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Teenagers are protesting, since when have they cared?

On May 3rd local youth took a stand, protesting and showing everyone they care about their education.
silent protestors

silent protestors /Alexis Gray

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More information about L.I.T. and G.R.I.L.

Leaders In Training (L.I.T.) is a program in which teenagers ages 14-17 come together to live one mission of “Equipping youth for lives of reconciliation,” as tall turf ministries mission statement says. The L.I.T. program teaches students a lot about becoming a leader and about the three R's -- relocation, redistribution, and reconciliation.

Grand Rapids Initiative for Leaders (G.R.I.L.) is about creating Christ - like cross cultural leaders. G.R.I.L exists to strengthen leaders to transform communities through actively engaging in the life of their community. In this way they advance the kingdom of God.

silent protestors

silent protestors /Alexis Gray

silent protestors

silent protestors /Alexis Gray

As I am walking down the street I see young people standing up for something they believe in. These teenagers are from Tall Turf Ministries' Leaders In Training (L.I.T.) program and Grand Rapids Initiative for Leaders (G.R.I.L.) through Madison Square Church.

Youth from Tall Turf Ministries and Madison Square Church joined together to take a stand on Madison Ave and Hall Street on May 3rd. Dressed in graduation caps and gowns, the teenagers stood up for their education, showing everyone that they care about their education. Silently and nonviolently, the teenagers protested holding signs that read, “Prepared for jail, thanks.” “The color of my skin does not equal my aptitude.” and even signs that said, “If teachers don’t believe in me how am I supposed to believe in myself.” People stopped by to question what this protest was about.

These teenagers are us. They are America’s future and if they believe they are not getting a fair education or that the school system does not believe in them, how are they possibly supposed to succeed?

All these teenagers want is for educational opportunities to be distributed equally among schools. These young voices finally stood up, saying loudly, “there is no reason that a high-student should not be able to read and write proficiently.” According to Lori Higgins, "there are ninety two schools in Michigan that are deemed failing schools." They do not meet standards.

The youth are demanding a plan of action from school leadership and the board of education to change these failing schools so they are passing and successful. Let’s get more in depth: Godfrey Lee and Grand Rapids Public Schools are considered failing, but how come they are not receiving help to make West Michigan a part of the state that does not have a failing school system?

To support their claims, these teenagers took the time to gather facts. Referencing Susan Searls Giroux's research stating, “those who fail 4th grade will determine how many prisons are built,” and pulling on local data showing “1 in 5 (22%) of adults in Grand Rapids are illiterate.” These teenagers are teens from many different high schools, representing Creston High, Rogers High, Grand River Prep Academy, and Godwin High School.

Many may wonder when this silent protest happened. This has happened in a time when adults feel children have given up on their education. This has happened when a valuable education seems nowhere to be found, and if valuable education is available, the question is, “Can we afford it?”

All these teenagers are asking for is that common sense be used in decision-making. If schools who offer proper education tools and have more than adequate funding to ensure there school is meeting standards, why not mandate equitable funding to bring failing schools up to standard?

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Great article Alexis!  Because of this article, more people will become more familiar with a very real and important problem in our communities and hopefully become inspired and encouraged by the well informed students from Tall Turf and Madison Square Church who joined together to raise awareness about it. I want to encourage you along with the students from Tall Turf and Madison Square Church to keep on fighting the good fight for Justice . . . for ALL!