Zak Malamed & Allison Wu - The Power of the Student Voice in Education Reform

With all the conversations and decisions surrounding education reform, what actions are being taken to include (and amplify) the student voice?

About The Speaker(s)

Zak Malamed is an 18-year-old advocate for the student voice in education policy. He is the organizer of the #StuVoice Twitter chats and StuVoice.org--these efforts focus on uniting and centralizing the student voice. You can Follow him on Twitter at @zakmal. He and Allison Wu both blog occasionally for the Huffington Post.

Allison Wu is a senior at Newton North High School in Newton, Massachusetts, and a member of the Policy Council of the National Youth Association. She was also an A.L.L.Y. Award winner at the 2011 U.N. International Year of Youth Culmination Celebration. Allison is passionate about youth social entrepreneurship and advocates for youth voice in education reform. You can Follow her on Twitter at @allisonswu.

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Questions Asked/Key Comments Made

  • (05:02) #edchat has been going on for some time, bringing educators together to discuss education [...] but education is ultimately about the students, so why aren't students talking about education?
  • (09:07) With a fledgling education system, not including the student voice is like a detective conducting a criminal investigation without interviewing the victims. It's unprofessional; it's unjust.
  • (11:46) It's good to empower the student voice, and it's good that we're all speaking, but it's a two-way street. If everyone is talking over each other, then no one is going to be listening to anyone. Empowering voice is the first part of the process; we need to make sure people are listening to it.
  • (13:10) Do you think [the student voice movement] is about changing a culture, or something more than that? Or something different?
  • (15:48) What we need to do with StuVoice.org is make sure that all students recognize the value of working together, respecting each others' opinions, and finding a way to reach that middle ground. [...] How we use that voice is something that we're trying to learn together.
  • (20:37) What is it that they do in Canada, which is very much different from what we do here?
  • (25:20) What steps should we take to change a culture that currently lacks student voice and student input?
  • (30:12) What questions should adults/educators ask students at the school or classroom level?
  • (35:43) It's important to not wait until the end of the year to pull out the evaluation questions and say, 'What did you like about this course? What didn't you like about this course?' We could have talked about this three months before. It's important to, maybe, ask questions each month, each chapter, each unit to make sure you are having that dialogue.
  • (36:16) Have any of you had the opportunity to craft a curriculum, from the ground up, with a teacher?
  • (39:20) From the #stuvoice Twitter chat, there was a statement that 'Students are being listened to, but not truly heard." Why do you think that this is?
  • (42:56) What is the future of the Student Voice movement, and do youth and adult have different (or similar) roles to play?
  • (47:46) We're recognizing the fact that social media and the internet can only take us so far. [...] Not all students have access to social media, access to the internet; that lack of equity makes it difficult for us to connect with certain groups of students. That's where money and resources will have to come into play.
  • (51:43) What excites you about the future of the Student Voice movement, and what positive changes do you hope will take place?

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List of Hangout Participants

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