Amid the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and the catalyzation of the Black Lives Matter movement, flaws in our education system have been brought to light. These issues, spanning from racial injustice to colonized curriculums to the health and safety of students, are being discussed and re-evaluated by lawmakers and students around the country. Our schools train the next generation of leaders, and these environments are often discriminatory and unsafe for marginalized groups. With the recent transition to online learning this spring, the prospect of reopening schools is a popular topic. Yet, the opinions of students remain unheard. In order to combat this vehement problem, Move School Forward (MSF) was established.
Led and coordinated by the Education Justice Collective, the MSF campaign centers around closing the digital divide that remote learning has created, as well as combatting the inequities that will arise when schools return to face-to-face learning. The ten guiding principles that define MSF’s purpose broadly align with the values that Oregon Student Voice identifies with, such as equity among students, inclusivity, and bringing change into schools. To cultivate change on a nationwide scale, Oregon Student Voice has chosen to collaborate with the many other organizations across the country to magnify MSF and their future endeavors.
The actions being taken by MSF include orchestrating letter-writing parties, exemplifying the demands for police-free schools, launching the “30 Days of Action” campaign, and coordinating an online town hall to push for the decolonization of school curriculums (stopping the glorification of European colonization and focusing more on native culture and practices). The “30 Days of Action” initiative has been created to help students make a noticeable difference in their communities and schools, whether it be sharing what school didn’t teach them, or reaching out to their local school board. On top of collaborating with larger youth-led organizations, the Education Justice Collective has formed a group called EJC On the Ground for passionate young activists to come together and partake in the Collective’s actions and to have the opportunity to collaborate with others to amplify their opinions on change in schools.
In our rapidly evolving world, youths’ voices need to be heard. They need to be listened to. Decisions need to be made by learners, not against them. Schools need to be a safe space for marginalized groups; anti-racist curriculum needs to be taught. Mental and academic requirements need to be met during the COVID-19 pandemic and after. With the support provided by Oregon Student Voice to the Education Justice Collective, reform will take place on a much larger scale, with both organization’s work being amplified. With the help of supporting organizations, The MSF campaign ensures that students’ opinions will be heard and understood, and that change will occur.
Ava Hulbert is a sophomore at Lakeridge High School and a member at Oregon Student Voice, a student-led organization that empowers all students to be authentic partners in making decisions that affect their K-12 education.