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STRIVE

March 27, 2011
On Friday I had the chance to meet with a student group called STRIVE (Students Re-Investing in a Valuable Education).  There are about 25-30 students in the group.  Their goal is to have a student voice in education reform in Saline and also in school districts across the area and the State of Michigan. If you are from Saline or another district and are interested in learning more or getting involved you may contact them at strive.striveteam@gmail.com.

The leader of the group is Junior Aaron Murkerjee.  He noted,

The inspiration for STRIVE came from a conference (National Young Leaders Conference) that I attended in Washington D.C. this past fall. The conference was an opportunity to get experience in government simulations as well as meet with Michigan’s representatives and their staffs. After attending this conference and being particularly inspired by the keynote address given by mobilize.org founder Maya Enista, I decided to take the skills I learned back to my community. Although I really did not know how to apply these skills at first, it became clear to me that after a while that education is something that affects everyone, and is affecting me at this point in my life. It also became clear to me that the very people that education affects — the students — had little or no say in the education system.
What motivates me to continue working towards the goal of getting a student voice in education, despite skeptical adults and blank stares from other students, is that I know how hard today’s students work and how much they can achieve, and yet our education system is not letting them achieve their full potential. Not only are we falling behind countries like China and India in education, but people from our own country (people such as author Mark Bauerline) are saying that today’s students constitute “The Dumbest Generation.” So our goal is two-fold: One, to improve the quality of education and two, to show the cynics that this generation cares about education.
As Superintendent I was requested to present to the group, our educational philosophy at Saline High School, educational reforms, and obtaining this groups thoughts and opinions on a variety of issues. They had excellent questions about our policies and our strategy for making change.  During this Q & A period, we talked about weighted grades and the value of AP courses.  As I explained our current practices, it became evident to me that the focus on grades vs. learning has become even more pronounced as students feel pressure about college admission.  It made me reflect on how public education and society have created the idea of that high stakes testing is the “true” measure of intelligence.  Thankfully, we have more students than ever challenging themselves with rigorous academic offerings; however, we need to look at how we assess their learning.

Aaron, you and the STRIVE group – your voices are being heard and you are already making a difference.

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