At 9 am this morning, sitting in a circle of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ students at the Phoenix Detention Center, I listened for the first time to Tupac Shakur speak (via YouTube video). In the interview, in which Tupac is only 17 years old, he spoke eloquently about the problems of the American education system and shared a few of his own ideas for its improvement. Citing a need for more relevant material, he said he would like to see classes on racism in America and why poverty persists in addition to classes on, as he said, “reading, writing and arithmetic”. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMXBYkYCmXU&w=420&h=315]
In small group conversations after the video, Phoenix students and UO students discussed more ideas—our own ideas—for improvement of the education system. The conversation was inspiring. It was clear, and remains clear, that the American education system faces some very significant problems and there is not an easy way to remedy them. However, the level of engagement in the conversation, the volume and breadth of ideas generated in just my little group of three in a conversation of less than ten minutes, shows me that a desire for education reform is something we share. Every one of us in the room brings our individual educational experiences into the Serbu Book Club, we think about education in different ways (based in part on the quality of education the public education system has afforded us), and certainly, the levels of passion for the subject differ. Nonetheless, as students of the Oregon public education system, this conversation matters and it was clear to me that everyone in the room knew that.
- Phoebe, Student, University of Oregon