Los Angeles, CA – Students from Locke and Manual Arts are among the high school pupils who will present their findings Friday at the Los Angeles Expo Center on what type of support teachers need in order to engage students in community issues.
Coordinated by the UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education and Access (IDEA), the program features 26 students from the Council of Youth Research, who interviewed teachers, administrators and students and surveyed an additional 185 educators working at Cleveland, Locke, Manual Arts, Roosevelt and Wilson high schools.
The local students are: Joann Alatorre, Beverly Castillo and Dejohnette Dubose of Locke; and Gaby Dominguez, Aaron Armstrong, Maurice McCoy, Rebecca Torres and Richard McClain from Manual Arts.
This fall presentation is a continuation of research the young people began in the summer that explored the idea of student civic engagement, said an IDEA spokesman. The young researchers began studying this topic because students spend so much time around their teachers.
What the researchers found was that while teachers care about their students’ development, the majority felt it was not their job to get their students actively involved in community issues or school clubs.
In the study, students also discovered that teachers receive little support to deal with urban school concerns (death, drugs, graffiti, gangs, poverty), and in fact, many teachers are not very well informed about the environments from which their students come. Consequently, it can be hard for them to relate and hinders their ability to incorporate civic issues in the classroom, explained Maribel Santiago, project coordinator.
Finally, the teachers surveyed identified a number of conditions–overcrowding, large class sizes, and lack of administrative support–that impeded their ability to help students develop personally.
Ideally, a long-term goal of the research, noted IDEA officials, is to possibly influence school district policy and curriculum development.
On Friday, the young people will offer a set of recommendations to help address the problems. One of those will be that in addition to providing professional development to help teachers with the academics, similar assistance should be provided to enable educators to better understand their students’ environments and the civic issues that are connected to living in such places.
In order to produce the study, the Council of Youth Researchers met monthly with the IDEA staff as well as with the faculty advisors at their respective schools.
The event will be held Feb. 6 at the Los Angeles Expo Center, 3980 S. Menlo Ave., Los Angeles and doors open at 5:30 p.m. The presentation begins at 6 p.m., and a roundtable discussion with educational leaders follows.