Youth Taking The Lead

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“[S]he who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as [s]he who helps to perpetrate it. [S]he who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Students Protest School Closings

Photo Credit: Media Mobilizing Project

Photo Credit: Media Mobilizing Project

I have always admired the work Philadelphia Student Union has done. I remember they were one of the groups I discovered in the early days of my blog, and I wanted nothing more but to drop out of college and join these students in the struggle. I talk about them often, and if you haven’t already, go to their website RIGHT NOW (I caps locked that, that’s when you know it’s serious). See what amazing things they’ve been able to accomplish. Anyway, just to add onto their great list, they held a student apocalypse in response to the 37 schools in their community set to close.

Photo Credit: Media Mobilizing Project

Photo Credit: Media Mobilizing Project 


Sumter, South Carolina – Students Standing Up For Their Teachers


Blake Ward
Photo Credit: The Item


Lance Foxworth
Photo Credit: The Item


Remorsefully, that is becoming almost abnormal for any student to feel that way. Never in 12 years of our academic careers (all of which has taken place within Sumter School District) has there been so much hopelessness for the future of our school district.

Every day, we see teachers – men and women that have worked hard for college degrees in their fields in order to earn an honest living and obtain a better quality of life – who are afraid to teach in comfort for the fear of being reprimanded by an administrator or a district official with a pen and checklist.

Every day, we see teachers who have sadness in their eyes because they know that the teaching techniques they are forced to use are not truly what is best for the students.

I have written about Blake Ward before, and the brave steps he has taken to bring to light what is going on in his small town of Sumter. Blake is a high school senior who is a founder and current co-chair of the Sumter School District Student Coalition. Blake and his other co-chair, Lance Foxworth, wrote an Op-Ed to their local paper, “The Item.” I can’t encourage you enough to read what these two students have to say, and the fear they have for the path their district is taking. As things move forward, we are hoping Students United for Public Education (SUPE) can initiate a National Campaign to put the pressure on his school board officials to be held accountable for their actions–if you are interested in helping build this campaign, please reach out to:


Red Bank, New Jersey – 19 Year Old Socialist Takes NJ School Board Seat

Photo Credit: Pat Noble, New Jersey's Elected Socialist Facebook Page

Photo Credit: Pat Noble, New Jersey’s Elected Socialist Facebook Page

Can I get a woot woot for New Jersey? (I swear, the more comfortable I am getting with you all, the dorkier I get). Anyway, seriously, how awesome is this?! Some may know already about my interest in running for the school board seat in New Brunswick in this upcoming April\November election, so already seeing another young-adult folk catching some attention on an NJ school board is really exhilarating. Exciting things for NJ and Education indeed.

“Noble plans to focus on several areas as a school board member, including the promotion of LGBT issues in sex education classes, banning military recruiters from schools, opposing merit pay for teachers and fighting budget cuts.

Noble is not the first teenager with ties to far left groups to win a school board seat in the U.S. In 2005, Shane Brinton, an 18-year-old who had been involved with local Communist Party anti-war activities, was elected to the North Humboldt Union High School Board of Education in northern California. ”

[Full Article Can be Read Here]

Well there you have it. Just a few of the many phenomenal things happening in regards to students taking risks and standing up for  education in their community. In addition, make sure to check out this fantastic post in The Nation by James Cersonsky, Dispatches From the US Student Movement. Believe in student apathy? Think again. See what students across the nation are also making noise about, and see what they are successfully getting done.

This blog post has been shared by permission from the author.
Readers wishing to comment on the content are encouraged to do so via the link to the original post.
Find the original post here:

The views expressed by the blogger are not necessarily those of NEPC.

Stephanie Rivera

Stephanie Rivera is a student at Rutgers University. She is a future teacher and educational equity activist.