Our Turn’s growing movement has an unyielding passion for educational equity. The solutions we employ are as diverse and audacious as our members. We galvanize bold truth-tellers, shift power by creating proximity to young people for system leaders, and identify actionable solutions for one of the greatest issues of our time.
We believe that achieving equity in education can’t wait. Join our movement and let’s turn our urgency into action.
Developed by young people of color, the Student Agenda is a one-of-a-kind values and policy framework that has been endorsed by 19 national and local organizations. This is our North Star.
1. Nothing About Us, Without Us.
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Students deserve to have our voices heard. We are taught to value democracy and fair representation in school, now we are calling on our schools to uphold these values by empowering the voices of students to shape our education. Students—especially Black, Indigenous, and students of color—must be positioned as authentic partners in the decision-making process at every level of education.
- Voting Student Board Member: Every governing body in a district and schools must have student(s) representation with voting power. This representation should prioritize elevating BIPOC and marginalized students as leaders.
- Ongoing Feedback Cycle: Create and ensure there are multiple opportunities for students to directly share feedback and experiences beyond speaking at school board meetings.
- Accessible Board Meetings: Schedule board meetings that are easily accessible for students to engage and participate in.
2. Learning Centered on Justice.
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Now is the time for students to reclaim and reimagine how schools teach us. Students deserve a holistic curriculum that dismantles white supremacy in public education. Our country must reconcile with the wrongs of our past and lead a new pathway forward. A just curriculum is truthful about our nation’s history, affirms the intersectional identities of all students, and empowers us to be critical leaders.
- Authentic Evaluation: School districts will conduct an internal audit to assess and evaluate where current standards, curriculum, and teaching methods derive from, and decolonize curriculum and textbooks in every subject area in all k-12 grade levels.
- Relevant Courses: Meet student demands by adding courses connected to anti-racist history, civic engagement, financial literacy, and comprehensive sex education.
- Strengthening Student/Teacher Partnerships: Integrate student surveys into evaluating teacher and instructional effectiveness.
- Shift Power Dynamics: Create classrooms where students and teachers are able to learn from one another, creating a positive learning environment. Having an understanding that one person does not hold all the knowledge, we must center the classroom culture on community cultural wealth.
3. Prioritize Our Mental Health.
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Before we can expect students to engage in learning, we must prioritize and support their socio-emotional well-being. We should work to actively heal the generational trauma of years of systemic oppression. Our schools must play an active role in supporting students' basic needs.
- Team of Support: We need full time, culturally competent, qualified mental health professionals, counselors, and social workers who are reflective of the student population in which they support.
- Centering Our Experiences: Staff who are specifically trained to address the issues faced by the student body, including racial trauma, LGBTQ experiences, and poverty.
4. Our Schools, Our Culture.
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Students have the greatest understanding of what it takes to create a school culture that is safe and high achieving. We reject one-size-fits-all thinking; we are intersectional beings who deserve to thrive. We demand restorative, collaborative, and culturally competent practices to fulfill our potential.
- Protecting All Students: Nationwide legal protections for marginalized students (LGBTQ, BIPOC, undocumented, students with disabilities).
- Restorative Justice: Implement restorative, collaborative, and culturally competent practices because all students must be seen as full, complex human beings.
- Differentiated Pathways: Utilizing varying forms of instruction, learning, and collaboration to drive the greatest growth in every student.
- Access to Rigor: Increase diversity and support in advanced courses.
5. Fully Invest in Our Futures.
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Nowhere is systematic racism more transparent than in the unethical underfunding of our Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities and schools. As young people, we are the leaders of the future, so it is our nation’s duty to invest in the untapped potential of all students. Every child, regardless of their zip code, race, nationality, immigration status, sexuality, or gender identity, should be valued and invested in as individuals and historically marginalized groups. We demand funding practices that meet the communicated needs and aspirations of our communities.
- Equitable Funding: Change formulas, budget cycles, and the process, to ensure accountability toward improved outcomes for Black, Indigenous, and students of color.
- Accountable to Feedback: Integrate authentic student and community input & audits directly into budget allocations, at the levels of schools, districts, and states.
- Open Doors: Allow undocumented students to be eligible for in-state tuition.
- College Promise: Free higher education for disenfranchised youth.
Ready to join our movement?
Across the country, we are elevating the perspectives and demands of young people to rewrite the rules for public education.
The LA Student Standard: A Collective Resistance
Schools are no exception to the long-standing impact of institutional racism in our country. White supremacy is in our textbooks, discipline practices, funding formulas, lower expectations, etc. Now is the time for LA Unified to lead the way in creating equitable and just school systems.
Tell City Council to Defund the Police Department
We are demanding that the Minneapolis City Council defund Minneapolis Police Department and invest those dollars to create safe and inclusive schools for Black and Brown students.
Push for More Equity in Minneapolis Schools
We’re elevating the voices of Minneapolis public school students to drive district-wide recommendations that combat inequities.
Demand Tuition Equity in North Carolina
Tell the NC Legislature that in-state college tuition should be the same for ALL North Carolina students, regardless of their citizenship and immigration status.
Demand Change in Colorado Public Schools
For too long, adult leaders have made decisions about our schools, our experiences, and our needs. But now, students are setting the agenda for the future of Colorado Public Schools. Support the Colorado Student Agenda by signing the petition and demanding leaders and elected officials take action.
It's Our Turn for Effective Educators
We demand Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) give students a voice in teacher evaluations and create a change and improvement to the evaluations of teachers.
COVID-19 Student Impact Report
We conducted a survey of young people in April 2020 to understand how COVID-19 is impacting them and their educational experiences.
Increasing College Access in Los Angeles
LAUSD’s current policy allowing students to fulfill graduation requirements with a “D” grade average is leaving students behind, unprepared for higher education.
Pause DPS Accountability System Conversations
We need to pause the committee from taking further action during this crisis so we can give families and students the time they need to process the difficulties they are facing.
North Carolina Credit Recovery
We are fighting to increase transparency around credit recovery programs, and institute a GPA requirement in North Carolina high schools.
Minnesota Project Equity Report
Our Turn Minnesota undertook a massive survey of current and former students, and then published the results, which formed the basis for Our Turn's current Project Equity Campaign.
Denver Board of Education Superintendent Candidate
In 2018, the Denver Public Schools Board of Education planned to appoint a new superintendent. We demanded that the board take Our Turn recommendations into consideration.
MPS Police in Schools
We demanded the Minneapolis Public School Board re-open their contract with the local police department to ensure K-12 students are #ProtectedNotSuspected.
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