Montgomery County Student Alliance

The Montgomery County Student Alliance was a 1,000-member student-led education organizing group in Maryland in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Activities

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Formed in early 1969, the Alliance worked to change schools, saying they “presently inhibit students’ individuality, creativity and independent thinking.” They published a report criticizing the school system as rigid and authoritarian and one that “didn’t encourage free inquiry or discussion.”

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Alliance members met with employees of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare in neighboring Washington, D.C. as well. That department was the predecessor of the U.S. Department of Education.

FBI

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The FBI’s COINTELPRO program maintained informants in the Alliance and spied on students as young as 14. No reason for the FBI`s activities was located.

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References

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Forum for Youth Investment

The Forum for Youth Investment, based in Baltimore, Maryland, has gathered several years’ experience in youth development and education reform to design a youth-centered vision of schooling called Ready by 21. They identified five areas, including Climate, Instruction & Curriculum, Connections, Outcomes, and Engagement. Their material explores this vision and offers new insights for school
improvement.

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At The Table

The At the Table initiative belonged to the Innovation Center for Community and Youth Development in Chevy Chase, Maryland. It aimed to promote youth governance in schools and communities across the United States.

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Algebra Project

The Baltimore Algebra Project in Baltimore, Maryland, is a fully youth run non-profit organization that tackles math illiteracy and seeks to empower youth within the city school system.

We employ youth, both high school and and college students as classroom instructor, teacher assistants, tutors, and organizers. Over the last nine years, we have funded 2 million dollars in wages to our employed youth. We also focus on building coalitions with youth across the counrty that are involved in the same struggle as us. But our priority is here our community and home.

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Anne Arundel County Public Schools Office of Student Leadership

Anne Arundel County Public Schools, in Maryland, has been committed to fostering Meaningful Student Involvement throughout district decision-making for many years.

The Anne Arundel Office of Student Leadership has been the home to most of the projects encapsulating the district’s commitment. Throughout the years, these projects have included:

  • Superintendent’s Teen Advisory Committee. Composed of two student representatives from each of the district’s high schools, the committee met with the superintendent and other district officials three or four times annually. Student members have helped foster changes such as providing dinner for students in the evening high school program and revising course curricula to better facilitate the service learning projects—from tutoring to running a Toys for Tots campaign—required of all Maryland high school students.
  • Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils (CRASC). The county student government association represents the district’s 32 middle and high schools. Monthly general assemblies, forums on issues from school discipline procedures to the district’s curriculum, and student-led leadership workshops at individual schools on topics such as group functioning, project planning, and running effective meetings are the keys to their activities.
  • Students on Committees. Students have participated on many of the advisory, curriculum and study committees in Anne Arundel schools. Students sound out on grading policies, alternative education, and other areas as a matter of procedure. State mandated School Improvement Teams involve large percentages of students – as many as 5 students on a 10 person Team.
  • Student Member of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education. Participating in budget and policymaking for the district’s 100-plus schools, Anne Arundel may be the only district in the country to accord this student representative full voting rights on the board of education. In an article by Wendy Lesko of Youth Activism Project, several successes of the student member of the board are detailed. They include the McGill Plan, named after the student board member who proposed modifying the bus schedule during high school mid-term and final exams. This move saves the district $100,000 annually. There is a shared and common understanding of the student’s role on the school board. Students and educators understand that the student member is not the student representative; instead, they are someone who will provide the viewpoint of a student in school matters. Students are very deliberate about the student who is chosen to represent them. The student member is not meant to represent a submissive or dominating perspective to adults. Instead, they are to offer something different from what are already established viewpoints by adult board members.

There is support from multiple levels of decision-making for the work of the Student Leadership and Involvement Office, and the work has been sustained in a meaningful way for years.

All of these actions, and many more, make Anne Arundel County Public Schools a beacon for student involvement in school decision-making around the nation.

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