The Power in the Room
Radical Education Through Youth Organizing and Employment
How community-centered, peer-to-peer, youth knowledge exchanges are evolving into a strong economic and political foundation on which to build radical public education.
Following in the rich traditions in African American cooperative economic and educational thought, teacher-organizer Jay Gillen describes the Baltimore Algebra Project (BAP) as a youth-run cooperative enterprise in which young people direct their peers’ and their own learning for a wage. BAP and similar enterprises are creating an educational network of empowered, employed students.
Gillen argues that this is a proactive political, economic, and educational structure that builds relationships among and between students and their communities. It’s a structure that meets communal needs—material and social, economic and political—both now and in the future. Through the story of the Baltimore Algebra Project, readers will learn why youth employment is a priority, how to develop democratic norms and cultures, how to foster positive community roles for 20–30 year-olds, and how to implement educational accountability from below.