Can college students develop solutions to end the high school dropout crisis and close the achievement gap?
Can college students develop solutions to end the high school dropout crisis and close the achievement gap? That's the hope of rEDesign Education, a new grassroots initiative created by University of Michigan undergraduates.
Although teachers, education reformers, and policymakers have spent plenty of time debating the best way to improve schools, students have rarely been involved in the discussions. Libby Ashton, founder and president of rEDesign, says college students bring a valuable perspective to the push to improve public schools because they're fresh out of high school and "still identify with our roles as students." They know what it takes to get into college and succeed, but they also have fresh memories of what it's like to "feel completely uninspired and isolated in school."
The initiative isn't limiting itself to students at Michigan, either. The group posted the project at DoSomething.org and are actively recruiting other college-based groups to start rEDesign efforts on their campuses and help design "systemic transformations in K-12 education." They're also asking students to tweet their ideas using the hashtag #rEDesignMyEdu, and the ideas are starting to roll in. Student Alex Schiff tweeted that "students need more opportunities to create self-structured and self-initiated projects without fear of failure" and user Vwampage suggested more federal oversight, writing that "Standard wages for teachers would be equal, helping equalize opportunities."
The students behind the rEDesign movement have a long way to go toward their goal of influencing high-level education policy discussions, but they're certainly on the right track. Including people who remember what high school is like can only be good for education reform efforts.