USC’s Program Board announced EdMonth, an initiative aimed at getting students to discuss the state of education in America, on Wednesday. Several assemblies will host EdMonth events during the last two weeks of March.
The initiative will also focus on the school systems in Los Angeles and across the nation, said Black Student Assembly President Eric Burse, who organized much of the effort.
“We’re going to have events that are cross-cultural,” Burse said. “These events are going to be student-centered and student-focused and the discussions are going to be student-led.”
All Program Board assemblies will contribute to the program.
“It’s very rare that we have more than four or five assemblies come together to work on something,” Burse said. “We have a really dedicated team in Program Board so we can delegate tasks and come out with a big production at the end. We haven’t done an event of this size before.”
Based on NBC’s Education Nation, EdMonth will incorporate representatives and leaders from public platforms — including local high schools, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the government — to spark the conversation at USC, Burse said.
“We’re trying to bring people who students will be interested in hearing and who will also encourage [students] to change something or get involved in education,” Burse said.
For the opening day events on March 19, Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education President Monica Garcia and Teach for America CEO Wendy Kopp will speak to students about how college students can help to ameliorate education inequality.
London Moore, Teach For America’s manager of campus recruitment for USC and UC Irvine, said that more than 100 USC students received offers to join Teach For America last year.
“USC is consistently in the top five for schools accepted,” Moore said. “USC is a really unique university in that it does take that [focus on education], and a lot of that focus is encouraged by the faculty and then the students.”
Joanna Smith, an assistant professor at the Rossier School of Education and expert on charter schools and school choice, said quality teachers are one of the most instrumental elements in improving education.
“Schools serving a high percentage of low-income students often have trouble attracting high-quality teachers, the factor that research has shown is the single most important component in success,” Smith said.
Asian Pacific American Students Assembly Director Amy Huang said Program Board hopes to increase student activism on campus through the creation of the event.
“We should be doing our part to educate USC students about the state of education,” Huang said. “I hope we not only increase the level of awareness of the state of education in this country but also generate some activism.”
Burse said one of EdMonth’s main goals is to make the discussion on education viral.
“Students are leaders in a lot of different issues in our nation, and this is one of the issues that students can be a leader in — whether it’s coming out with new technology for the classroom, or whether it’s becoming a teacher for Teach For America,” Burse said. “There’s tons of ways students can get involved to help the state of education in America.”
Burse said that other universities will be involved in the EdMonth discussion and that he hopes the intiative will spread to other campuses across the country. Program Board plans to use various social media platforms to attract and involve participants from across the United States.
“We definitely want the initiative to be successful at USC, but even more, we want it to happen at schools across the nation,” Burse said. “This is a conversation that could be had at any school in any state in any city or any economic level.”