Across The US

Idea’s Focus Across The US

IDEA works at a broad level across the United States by creating learning opportunities and engaging in aligned campaigns that seek to transform the narrative, practice, and policy of public education ever more strongly towards justice and racial equity. One of the core assumptions of IDEA’s work is a belief in the power of building critical local­-national connections to raise up and support both local efforts in communities as well as the ongoing broad-based movement for education justice, racial equity, and sovereignty.

Our ongoing work to collaborate across the United States includes:

Learning Tours

An opportunity for educators, young people, and community leaders to experience powerful schools and programs across the US and bring the learning back to their community.

Antiracism Courses

A space for educators who are ready to take their good intentions and grow their capacity to show up – in and out of the classroom, in words and actions – from an antiracist lens. 

Aligned Campaigns

Efforts to change the narrative, inform policies that impact students, families, educators, and communities, and otherwise coordinate with partners to reinvent public education.

Learning Tours

What Are Learning Tours?

Learning Tours provide an opportunity for educators, young people, and community leaders to see powerful schools and programs with their own eyes and bring back the learning to their community. Each of the sites has valuable practices and stories to share about what is working and what has been learned through challenges and efforts over time.

“I didn’t think I would find original inspiration after 20 years of being a teacher. I thank you for this experience to find more to bring back to my work.”  – NYC Learning Tour participant

    Members of Nuestra Escuela, from Puerto Rico, on a Learning Tour to New York City

    IDEA organizes both open tours available to individuals and groups, and custom designed tours in which we work with potential participants to create a tour experience tailored specifically to their community as professional development, youth development, or alongside ongoing organizing and change efforts.

    Goals of Learning Tours

    1. Showcase powerful learning by highlighting schools and programs outside of schools that demonstrate democratic education in action.
    2. Provide inspiration and new ideas for educators, youth, policy-makers, parents, and community leaders.
    3. Support local change efforts by including a cross-section of key community members on tours.

    What to expect on a Learning Tour

    Learning Tours bring together the best of educational site visits and hands-on workshops into one experience. Tours typically include groups and individuals of 20-30 participants visiting three to four sites over two and a half days. Here’s what to expect:

    • Three to four fully arranged site visits over the course of 2 and a half days
    • Time to observe and engage in dialogue with adult and youth leaders on site
    • Opportunities to reflect and discuss the visits with tour participants
    • Full facilitation including pre and post tour communication and documentation
    • Local transportation, blocks of discounted hotel rooms, and several meals provided
    • Focused attention on race and equity in educational justice

     

    Custom Designed Tours

    Is your school, district, organization, or group looking for new ideas and inspiration to guide your change efforts or initiate new programs and practices? IDEA can work with you to design a Learning Tour that is specifically focused on your particular needs and goals.

    How it works

    You tell us your goals, needs, and interests, and we work with you to design a tour for groups between 10 and 30 people that can help you move your work forward. We’ll discuss timeline, locations, types of sites to visit, and logistics. After deciding on a tour plan, IDEA arranges the site visits, provides information before the tour, facilitates the experience, and shares back documentation of the visit post-tour. We can also work with you and your organization over time to make sense of the visit, reflect with the full community back home, and implement ideas and change plans.

    “Working with IDEA to design and facilitate a NYC Learning Tour for our site was a great experience. We were thrilled with the process, final product, and ease of the working relationship. Their organizers were able to take our ideas and wishes for what our participants would experience and suggest schools to visit that helped us imagine what was possible at our own schools. They helped to facilitate connections with educators that can serve as resources moving forward. They nailed the logistics of touring a large group of students and teachers through the streets and subways of New York. And, the reflection activities they led helped us integrate the learning into our own context so we arrived home with tangible next steps for making positive school change. We would definitely recommend collaborating with IDEA. ” 
    – Lindsey Cox, Project Manager, Partnership for Change

    What an IDEA-designed tour includes:

    • Arranging site visits
    • Sending information and tour packets to participants prior to the tour
    • Facilitating the tour from beginning to end, including leading discussions and reflection sessions throughout the experience
    • Providing several meals during the tour and arranging blocks of discounted rooms at a hotel
    • Arranging or providing local transportation during the tour
    • Sharing documentation including pictures and reflections from tour conversations.

    Pricing:

    We will work with you to determine a cost rate that makes sense for your school, organization, or community. Total costs include lodging, meals, ground transportation, and facilitator travel expenses.

    “The NYC Learning Tour was a highlight of my 33 year teaching career. I give it an A+.”
    – Participant in tour designed for South Burlington High School, VT

    Examples of Current and Past IDEA Designed Tours

    • Nellie Mae Education Foundation’s Amplifying Student Voice & Leadership cohort – 2016-2021: We coordinate tours for this cohort of community-based youth organizations to see student-centered learning in action and bring ideas back to their communities and schools.
    • Sisters School District and Heart of Oregon – tour to Oregon: A tour for the district to learn about project-based learning and portfolio assessment as they build a new public alternative school.
    • South Burlington High School – tour to New York City: This high school in Vermont asked us to design a tour to see schools practicing student-centered and proficiency-based learning to spur improvement efforts. Participants included the principal, school board members, teachers, parents, and students.
    • Partnership for Change – tour to New York City: A school transformation project in two districts of northern Vermont asked us to design a tour to New York to see student centered learning and to help them build community power for action.

    Contact us to discuss tour design for your group: info@democraticeducation.org

    Learning Tour participants on a visit in NYC

    Antiracism Courses

    Why Now? IDEA’s Vision & the Need for Antiracism in Education

    IDEA’s antiracism courses, first launched in December 2019, are planned with the support of a multiracial group of educators who play a vital role in shaping and informing all of our course offerings. Our work over the years towards antiracism and dismantling white supremacy has included workshops and learning experiences in and with multi-racial communities as well as learning and affinity groups for BIPOC and white people. 

    Current courses focus especially on white educators, reflecting the reality that in the U.S. 80% of educators are white. In recent years we have seen a sharp uptick of progressive white educators who have begun talking about racism, using antiracist language, and acknowledging their own whiteness. And still, many white people are at a loss when it comes to adapting their own actions, when it comes to living out the changes that they want to be a part of. The courses we offer are for white educators who have been doing their own personal work of examining their place in white supremacist society, and are looking to deepen their learning and take action to disrupt white supremacy through connection with and accountability to other white educators.

    “Reflecting on this course, I have to say that the biggest impact it had on me is that I feel now more than ever that I have the language, theoretical, and other foundational knowledge needed to have more productive, impactful, and organized action-oriented conversations around antiracism and disrupting white supremacy. The diversity of speakers who came to the course, as well as the readings that we did (grounded in two texts and all of supplementary readings as well), have really helped me feel confident in having these conversations in my school buildings and with the organizations that I support and work with. [I feel more capable of] making sure that we are dissecting our work from an intentional lens of disrupting white supremacy and not letting present practices continue if they do uphold white-supremacy culture; of making sure that we are also being very intentional about putting students and families in the center of our work as their day-to-day and education is directly impacted by these racist and white supremacist systems. I cannot recommend this course highly enough for other educators, whether in K-12 or beyond. It was really a great opportunity for learning.

    – Brittany Johnstone, course participant and School Psychologist in Baltimore, Maryland

    Operating Assumptions

    These courses do not serve as introductions to antiracism. There are certain realities that are not up for debate, and explaining them will not be the focus of our courses: 

    • We, in the United States, are living in a white supremacist society
    • Racism is systemic
    • Institutions of education operate within a racist and white supremacist framework

    “I’m continually appreciative of the curriculum, pace, readings, books, and the space for the work that we’re doing. I am incredibly appreciative for the thought and reflection that the facilitators have put into this. That really intentional time… this is an exceptionally run course with incredible resources, and I don’t say that lightly at all. I’m incredibly appreciative for that. It’s really profoundly life changing.”

    – Sarah Norsworthy, course participant and 4th Grade Teacher in Portland, Maine

    Information on Current, Past, and Upcoming Courses

    IDEA’s Fall 2021: Antiracism Course for White Educators – A 12-session discussion and action-based course for white educators.

    IDEA’s Spring 2021: Antiracism Course for White Educators (closed) A 12-session discussion and action-based course for white educators.

    In 2020 IDEA held antiracism courses for white educators in the spring, summer, and fall. We are planning a similar roll out of course offerings in 2021, and hold space for any emergent opportunities to support learning in diverse and dynamic settings.

    If you are interested in learning more about or participating in any upcoming antiracism courses with IDEA, please contact us at info@democraticeducation.org

    Some Resources that Inform IDEA Antiracism Courses

    Aligned Campaigns

    Partnership and Collaboration Across the Landscape

    IDEA has strong relationships with education justice networks across the United States, including the Journey for Justice Alliance, the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, and the Partnership for the Future of Learning, among others. As part of these networks, IDEA participates in coordinating and implementing broad-based campaigns, including the Journey for Justice #WeChoose Equity campaign, the Death by a Thousand Cuts report and campaign on racism and school closures, and the Partnership for the Future of Learning’s ongoing narrative campaign to change the story about public education towards a focus on racial equity, community-led schools, and culturally-responsive education.

    Current campaigns include supporting the development of a Journey for Justice Southern Region to mobilize action across the southern US, and acting as a key local partner for the Freedom Riders’ 60th Anniversary later this year.

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