Thursday, March 3, 2011

National Youth Summit: What happens next?

In February the U.S. Department of Education hosted the "Voices in Action: National Youth Summit' in Washington, DC. The summit was attended by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and quite a few other DOE and White House officials, along with 300 students and 50 adults from school districts and youth-serving organizations around the country. The summit was held to promote dialog about how to achieve President Obama's goal for the U.S. to lead the world in college completion by 2020.

The Forum for Youth Investment (FYI) has posted a page on the summit that includes video of the opening and a "Summit Sampler" written by Alison Beth Waldman, a recent college graduate who attended. There is also a link to "Ask Sec. Duncan," which allowed students who did not attend the summit to ask the Secretary questions and vote on the top questions. However, it looks like the librarians have taken over. Most of the questions appear to have been asked by adults, and the top five questions are all about school libraries.

It's great to see the White House and the Department of Education seeking input from young people. The question, though, is what happens next? Did students' words have any influence on the decisions that will be made by the federal officials who attended? How will we know? If students had been asked what they think the President's goal for education should be, would they have chosen the same one he did? Do students even care if the U.S. leads the world in college completion?

Again, it's great to see the administration reaching out to students. But it will be even more interesting to see the follow-up. The FYI summit page indicates that Alison plans to write more on "edutainment, 'streets instead of schools,' and what happens when we’ve already talked to our Senators?" Stay tuned.

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