As parents and adults, we can talk and talk about what’s right and wrong with our schools, propose solutions and take action, but often, I think it’s the voice of students, that is most poignant. Certainly they are influenced by our involvement and advocacy, but it’s their perception of their own experience that may influence them the most.
Take a group of students in Monrovia, CA who have initiated a campaign dubbed Hernandez 2012 that seeks to save the job of their high school (career and college) counselor who may be laid off due to budget cuts. According to the students, Ms. Hernandez’s impact has been invaluable and they are advocating in huge part, it seems, to ensure younger students in their community can benefit from the expertise and care of this exemplary educator.
What a message it sends when young people take a risk and use their voices especially around a sensitive issue like public school layoffs. It further highlights the importance of parents and mentors and our duty to empower students to embrace their voices and opinions and do something with them. After all, this is what makes students stand out in college admissions because they demonstrate something extremely important – they care about something. It’s actually amazing talking to college bound students and though there are obviously things they care about, it’s often hard for them to articulate exactly what it is. So, creating opportunities for students to identify causes they connect with and then do something, is a great exercise in college preparation and an even better way to prepare them to be successful in the jungle that is college.