Youth Leaders Present Recommendations to U.S. Department of Education!
On February 26, six VOYCE leaders traveled to Washington D.C. to play a lead role in the DOE's first-ever national youth summit. VOYCE was one of just seven organizations selected to share the lessons and success of their youth-led efforts to increase Chicago's graduation rate. Elizabeth, a senior at Kelly High School and a leader with the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, describes what the experience was like:
I was able to be a part of the action that took place in Washington DC, where students were able to meet with officials from the U.S. Department of Education and discuss what has brought change in our communities. Because VOYCE has demonstrated that we have worked hard to bring change in our community and would like to help and learn from others, we were one of the chosen organizations. We knew there were going to be people from the Department of Education, such as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, listening to the youth and adults who were there about how we can achieve President Obama’s goal to increase college completion rates by 2020.
In Washington DC, I facilitated a workshop along with another youth from VOYCE and Leigh Arsenault, Policy Advisor, Office of the Undersecretary and Greg Darnieder, Senior Advisor on College Access, Office of Secretary, both part of the Unites States Department of Education. Another VOYCE youth emceed the event, and all of us worked together to lead a workshop where we talked about how VOYCE has increased freshman on-track rates at our high schools.
I am also a part of another organization called Alliance for Educational Justice (AEJ), whose main goal is to bring a great change in education at the national level. The day after the summit, AEJ organizations met to recap on what occurred on the previous days and how all of the organizations that were invited to come to Washington DC could lead education reform. Throughout my three days in Washington DC, I had a great experience learning about others throughout the United States and plan to keep in touch to make a difference for the future generations that are to come. I am glad that I was able to have had the privilege to have gone on the trip and learn about the federal government and education. Coming back home was the best part, because sharing the stories told by other students is powerful and how education can be beneficial not only to students but to teachers and parents as well. I just thought that overall it was a great experience as a youth to have an opportunity to meet with people who have the authority to make change in the national level and listen to what the youth actually have to say was very powerful.