Guest post by Zak Malamed
With education reform becoming a prominent issue on the local and federal stage, young people are looking for both a voice and a seat at the table. Unfortunately, the traditional school system is one that is not typically designed to provide such a platform. Fortunately, that doesn’t stop 21st century students. Because we are living in a world of unprecedented interconnectivity, students no longer have to sit around and wait for someone to give them permission to be heard. Like-minded people no longer just happen upon each other or wait for someone else to connect them. They are using the online social media tools, that are often blocked and banned in schools, to find each other. This is not only uniting young people; it is empowering them.
Over the past few months I have networked and formed lifelong relationships with individuals I have met online. They are amazing students leading groundbreaking movements. They are organizing with weekly #StuVoice Twitter chats on Monday evenings at 8:30 and creating sites like StuVoice.org.
A student revolution is staring us in the face.
Most recently students from throughout New York State banded together by calling on self-appointed “lobbyist for the students,” Governor Andrew Cuomo, to stand behind his words and add students to the New York Education Reform Commission.
In a prompt response, the Office of the Governor agreed to make the student voice a priority at regional Commission meetings by giving them an opportunity to testify. Students will also have the opportunity to meet with powerful Commission members, following each meeting, to discuss their thoughts on that day’s meeting. Additionally, if they are not satisfied with the contents of the preliminary and final Commission reports, they will then be able to submit an independent report to the governor.
Social media has provided students with a door to having a seat at a table they weren’t invited to. Now they’ve taken their places and the student revolution has begun.
Zak Malamed is a recent graduate of Great Neck South High School in Long Island, New York where he was Student Government President. Always a champion of the student voice in his school, he is now advocating for a widespread youth empowerment. As he moves on to the University of Maryland, College Park, he looks forward to continuing his efforts to give youth a voice and a seat at the table.
Twitter handle: @zakmal