Imagine education activist groups from New Hampshire to Los Angeles gathering in one place. That’s how you’d build a movement for real education reform.
This weekend, over 1000 students, teachers, parents, researchers, and activists will assemble in Chicago for the fourth “Free Minds, Free People” conference to continue building the growing “education for liberation” movement. Attendees will join in workshops and conferences with topics ranging from democratic leadership, to parent organizing, to restorative justice and the school-to-prison pipeline. Many of these workshops are student-led. And while adults are at the “Organizing Resistance to Teach for America” conference (which has gathered advance attention in publications like Prospect and The Washington Post), students will be strategizing around the creation of a sorely-needed National Student Bill of Rights.
Providence Student Union this year is supporting five students in this work, including Cauldierre McKay. In Cauldierre’s own words:
“This conference is a chance to build relationships with people across the nation who are fighting for the same things we are fighting for. This is the kind of real, innovative learning experience that we should have more of in our schools.”
Cauldierre, four more students, and I are taking the 16 hour bus ride (each way!) with a group of youth power organizations from across the Northeast, including Boston-area Youth Organizing Project, Boston Student Advisory Council, Young Organizers United, El Movimiento, and The City School. PSU is especially happy to be making the trip with two inspiring organizations from Providence: Young Voices and Youth In Action. The Northeast groups in particular will be working together to strengthen efforts for democratic education in our region.
As Providence Student Union member Hector Perea said, “We’re not even to Chicago yet, and it’s already been an adventure.”