Student Power!: Organizing For School Reform
The people...united...can never be defeated!
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More About: Youth In Action | Publicolor | Youth Organizing Communities
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Student Power!: Organizing For School Reform

United Students meetingIt's a no-brainer: if you want a bright future, you've got to get a good education. But for many students, that means struggling against budget cuts, overcrowding, outdated policies, and other challenges. [Get stats on recent U.S. student dropout rates] The good news is, young people don't have to feel frustrated and helpless about it all. This In the Mix program chronicles the struggles and accomplishments of several student-run organizations who are turning their passion into power...and making school reform happen in their communities.

Providence Mayor David CicillineFirst, we travel to Providence, Rhode Island, where the teen members of Youth In Action work from the top down through an open dialogue with city mayor David Cicilline, a relationship that's resulted in YIA members being added to his advisory committee on community and school reform. Mayor Cicilline points out, "Every time I've had a conversation with Youth In Action, I always learn something about an issue the city is not addressing or could be doing better...Youth activist groups are important because when youth come together as a group, it makes it harder to ignore them." [Teens featured on the program answer questions about their activism]

Publicolor group painting school hallwayIn New York City, we see students join with teachers to protest budget cuts, and watch as teen members of Publicolor organize their peers in a mission to paint city schools with vibrant colors, turning uninspiring rooms and hallways into an energizing learning environment. Says one student about the transformation, "After I painted my school, it was better because the walls were brighter, the kids were better, and it made me want to stay in school."
[Speak out! How do you feel about school reform and student activism?]

United Students members talking to peersUnited Students, a part of Youth Organizing Communities in East Los Angeles, attend Roosevelt High School. With over 5,000 students, it's the largest in the U.S. Through planning, organization, and media smarts, they're able to get more school counselors on the staff, add ethnic studies to the curriculum, and eliminate a tardy discipline policy that contributed to their school's 68% dropout rate.
[Take our poll: Would this be possible at your school?]

These motivated teens illustrate the basic steps in getting organized for activism, and speak candidly about how their involvement has boosted their self-esteem, leadership skills, and hopes for the future. [Great resources] [Get help 24/7]

"Student Power!: Organizing For School Reform" was funded by The Open Society Institute, Youth Initiatives Program. The program is regularly re-broadcast on PBS affiliates across the country. Please check our schedule and station list for airtimes.

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