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Excerpt: The Young Activists

August 07, 2002 2 min read
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While interviewing young people for her monthly Child magazine column called “KidSpeak,” Elizabeth Rusch gained a deepening appreciation, she says, for this rising generation’s energy and idealism. She was also struck by the ingenious ways some of those students had found to put their idealism into action. In July, the Oregon-based writer, a former managing editor of Teacher magazine, published a book exploring the thoughts and activities of these young members of what she calls “Generation Fix.” Written to challenge and appeal to young people, as well as to inform parents, teachers, and other adults of their aspirations and concerns, Generation Fix: Young Ideas for a Better World gives the firsthand testimony of 8- to 16-year-olds from around the country who are trying to make a difference in their world. They share their ideas and concerns on problems that range from racial inequality to environmental threats. Below are a few of their thoughts on education:

“Every school should have an after-school tutoring program where you hire people to help kids with things they did not understand that day. If they learn it that day, they won’t fall that far behind. You could hire retired teachers or just anyone who is smart and can explain stuff clearly without lots of big words.”

—Elizabeth Jager, 11

“Schools would be much better if students decided on the laws for schools.”

Lena Eckert-Erdheim, 12

“Students should get two sets of books for each subject. One book will be kept in class and the other at home. This would prevent kids from being reluctant to carry books home for homework or not bringing books to class.”

—Lonnell Fuches, 14

“I have a very good education with everything I need in my school in top condition. I think schools like mine should donate to other schools.”

—John Weldon, 14

“A major issue in schools is lack of parental involvement. It’s nearly nonexistent by junior and senior high. One reason is that parents don’t understand what the child is learning. An answer to this is to allow parents to take classes along with kids.”

—Kristen Palmer, 12

“If parents don’t have time to be involved in school and help with homework— like if the parents are working too much—the students should have sessions with their teacher twice a week to work on stuff they are not getting. Or we could bring people from the community in to act as the ‘school parent’ for that child.”

—Nick Janecke, 14

“I think it would be really cool to learn the things you need for actual life—sewing, cooking, how to repair your bike, how to repair your car.”

—Leah Meijer, 14

“Make kids teach a class, so they realize how hard teachers’ work is, so they can appreciate what people are doing for them and take school more seriously.”

—Aaron Garcia, 15

“Schools should teach more than what the state requires. They should have classes about real issues that touch our lives—like what do you think about school and what would make it better?”

—Mai Truong, 16

From Generation Fix: Young Ideas for a Better World, by Elizabeth Rusch, published by Beyond Words Publishing Inc., 20827 N.W. Cornell Road, Suite 500, Hillsboro, OR 97124. Copyright (c) 2002 by Elizabeth Rusch. Reprinted with permission. Additional information about the book is available on the Web at www.generationfix.com.

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A version of this article appeared in the August 07, 2002 edition of Education Week as Excerpt: The Young Activists

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