Inquiring Minds Institute interns meet with DK Holland

Kids today, learning to act as citizens in our American democracy

DK Holland

It was 1956. Atom bomb tests and Elvis twerks shocked the western world. I watched both on our black and white television set. I was nine years old trying to make sense of the world beyond my home town of Metuchen, New Jersey.

I heard an agonized yelp, ran out the front door of my antebellum home to find a dog dying in the street, hit by a car which had sped off up Graham Avenue, never stopping. I was shocked, outraged. And I felt helpless. How…

DK with some of the young leaders she works with at PS20 in Brooklyn.

President Trump wants to shrink federal support for our public schools by nine billion dollars to help inflate his defense budget by 15 billion dollar to protect our democracy against terrorism. But isn’t a solid public education system the first line of defense for any democracy? All that’s good follows a good education.

Calculating the financial gamble

President Trump wants to eliminate all the buttressing that supports our public education. For instance, he would eliminate after school programs in high poverty schools also known as the 21st Century Learning Grants. He would whittle away at Title I individual programs (i.e…

Cafeteria Busters will be calling for a ballot initiative (the center for civic design is helping) so all kids in 4th and 5th grade (at their school, PS 20) can vote to innovate in the cafeteria.

A typical public school cafeteria feeds many hundreds of kids a day. In a high poverty school breakfast starts at 7AM for kids coming from homes where they might otherwise go without.

Lunch starts at 10:30 in half hour shifts. Kids are moved through a large echo-y room with 25 minutes to get their trays, sit and eat. It’s not only a challenge but it denies the kids what they really need, a way to decompress after a morning of sitting and learning! If its raining, the kids can’t play outside — which compounds the stifling of the kids —…

Over half of the population in the US right now is of color. This new majority minority is showing up in Pre K and Kindergarten, all around the country. And nowhere is this reflected better than in New York City public schools in which one point one million students are enrolled, 176 languages are spoken and only 15 percent of children are white.

Our public schools are a wonderful blend of America’s vast cultural tapestry, but factor in that the income levels of many families in New York are at the poverty level, and our public school system also doesn’t…

DK Holland

Journalist, design thinker, champion of children as citizens.

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