Teaching to Change LA > Youth Voices > Vol. 5, Issue 1 > Electoral Politics
Electoral Politics > Features > Student Group Work

Introduction to Youth Voices

This year, Teaching to Change LA invites youth, educators, and community members to explore how Los Angeles schools can promote powerful civic participation. People participate civically in many ways. They volunteer, vote, speak at public meetings, create murals, gather signatures on petitions, perform spoken word, organize friends and neighbors to take a political stand, march in protests, and much more. These actions require a variety of academic and social skills. Yet, most schools devote very little time to providing students with the skills to act in these ways.

Even when Los Angeles schools do not offer curriculum on civic participation, their conditions teach powerful lessons about equal opportunity and fairness. When some schools lack qualified teachers and learning materials, students learn that their government is not serious about leaving no child behind. Similarly when schools create zero-tolerance disciplinary policies with no input from youth, or when they present prescriptive, test-driven curricula, young people learn important ideas about who makes decisions and whose knowledge matters.

If we want Los Angeles youth to become vital participants in democratic life, we need our schools to embody inclusiveness, equality, and public-mindedness. This means our schools must have the necessary resources for all students to learn. And it means that they must provide young people with opportunities to acquire civic skills and encourage them to practice these skills in their lives.

Take a look at the features in this issue!

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Teaching to Change LA is an online journal of IDEA, UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education, & Access