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  • Writer's pictureChris Lewis

Leading to Listen: A Youth Led Conversation

You’ve heard it before. History repeats itself. And though we know it doesn’t quite ring one hundred percent true, it would be hard not to see the patterns and parallels of the past to present. Social studies educators are caught in the midst of a major political and cultural battle over what gets taught and how. From book bans to school board protests and laws in some states limiting the ability of many teachers to teach historical truths, education is fraught with seeming peril.

Yet, here in California, we await the near future implementation of Ethnic Stuies as a graduation requirement for all high school students. Sacramento has also further spotlighted the need for civic education across the curriculum, elevating this ever so timely educational call to action through the state seal of civic engagement as well as service learning.

But what does this all mean for young people? How does this moment compare to those of the past? Will mandated Ethnic Studies usher in a new era of institutional commitment to transformative justice in classrooms and communities throughout the state? Will more students from under resourced communities be afforded the same opportunities t

o earn the State Seal of Civic Engagement? Perhaps most importantly, will these and other future changes create fertile ground to grow the next generation of democratic guardians? There are many working in academia and policy who might posit answers to such questions, as well as practitioners in classrooms who create responses to such inquiries daily. Yet, the voices we might think to listen to the most deeply and with great interest are more than likely sitting right in front of us.

This is what the Saturday morning Keynote panel discussion will intend to do. CCSS’s 62nd annual conference will bring together the voices of youth throughout the state in conversation with one another about the importance of practices that center student civic voices. They will share narratives and insights about how they were supported in find

ing ways to take informed action on issues close to their hearts, while also being supported to develop critical understandings of how those issues came to be. The conversation will also be framed by education scholars Nicole Mirra and Antero Godina Garcia who have written extensively about the importance of civic imagination and empathy in pedagogical practices across subject areas. Rounding out the panel will be educator and CCSS board member representing region 5, Mark Gomez, who has championed youth civic voice for years both in the classroom and community spaces. Together this panel will serve to model what it means to be deeply listening to our young people at this moment and how that can radically transform our ability to teach them in ways that result in the power of possibility through individual and collective agency.

By Mark Gomez

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