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Chiming In

Policymakers and education activists have struggled for years to ensure productive education reform, taking advice from researchers, educators, and think tanks. A group of Yale University students says, however, that they're ignoring the most important source of feedback—students.

To give students a voice in the debate, Aaron Tang and fellow juniors Charlie Ambler, Adam Brenner, Ethan Hutt, and Paul Levin have set up Our Education, a "student empowerment" Web site that offers education news, links, and message boards for high school and college students.

The site came online last week and received more than 300 hits the first day.

"One of the driving factors [that led to the creation of site] was the contribution our high school teachers made," said Mr. Tang, who is the executive director of Students For Teachers, the nonprofit organization formed by the students last summer that launched the site. "We wouldn't be here without the contributions of our teachers, so we thought—why aren't all teachers highly qualified?"

According to Mr. Tang, that led the group to question why policymakers did not seek student involvement in efforts to improve public education. After all, students are the ones the reforms will affect, he said, noting that they could provide lawmakers with better insight into how policies change their environment and learning capabilities. While many groups actively support education reform, he pointed out, few seek student feedback.

And students are concerned, according to Mr. Tang, who attended Riverside High School in Painesville, Ohio. Students there, he said, wanted to see improvement in the school's Advanced Placement programs and better technology.

While he admits that students do have competing interests when it comes to high school—including after-school activities, college ambitions, and everyday teenage pressures—they could still be a powerful vehicle toward the improvement of public education, he argues.

"There's a real policy and consciousness problem," Mr. Tang said. "Policymakers need to realize that, at the end of the day, students do want better schools. It's not a matter of persuading students to care. High school students do care."

Our Education is on the Web at

— Marianne D. Hurst

Vol. 22, Issue 40, Page 3

Published in Print: June 11, 2003, as Take Note

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