Student Voice!

Gotham Schools has a great story about students in the Bronx organizing around school turnaround:

The students, who attend Samuel Gompers High School, have a specific improvement model in mind: the “re-start” option … Gompers is one of nine poorly performing high schools that are eligible for the federal help, but are not part of the city’s application for federal turnaround grants … “Why hasn’t the DOE given the grants to all the schools?” Gompers sophomore Sony Cabral asked at the rally. “They’re setting us up for failure.”

I’ve touched on this before, but the student voice often is completely absent from conversations about school turnaround. “Sistas and Brothas United” – the student group that organized around this issue – is filling a very important void. Kudos to them for that. Student and family demand should be a factor – though one of many – in determining school reform strategies, especially from the standpoint of sustainability.

All that said, the school improvement grants already constitute a relatively small portion of city and state budget. The only way to create the conditions for those grants to be successful is to give larger grants to fewer schools. Unpopular? Certainly, so school officials should choose grantees wisely. And it’s not bad to have a bunch of students begging for change!


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