Center X: The Declaration Project Gives High School Students a Voice

TEP initiative empowers students to utilize history, writing, statistics, and other academic subjects in the civic process.

On a recent gray Saturday morning, while many teenagers were still sleeping in their beds, a group of young students from across the Los  Angeles region gathered with local and state elected officials at UCLA to take part in a radical act. Following the example set long ago by the signers of the Declaration of Independence, these students came forth to “name the long train of abuses,” declare the causes,” and propose a course of action to address key issues affecting their lives, their schools and their communities.

The students were at UCLA to take part in The Declaration Project, an initiative of UCLA Center X to further understanding of government and engage young people in the civic process. The intent is to go beyond the usual high school government class in which students learn about the structures of government. Instead, through the use of participatory research, the Declaration Project provides young people with powerful analytic tools and encourages them to be active participants — political agents engaged in the democratic process of identifying and addressing injustices.  In doing so it demonstrates that academic subjects — history, writing, statistics, and others can be used to understand and transform the world we live in.

UCLA Professor John Rogers

“The Declaration project supports high school students to identify, examine, and speak publicly about the challenges they are experiencing and strategies for addressing these problems,” says John Rogers, a professor of education at UCLA and the faculty director of UCLA Center X. “Invoking the history of the Declaration reminds us that we all should be committed to calling out our collective grievances and taking action to realize a better and more just world.   This is an approach to civic education that casts young people as informed agents of change.”

To read the full story in Knowledge That Matters – Sudikoff Institute Public Forum, visit this link.


Above: Students from San Fernando High School presented their findings on “Educational Attainment: Obstacles Faced by Low-Income Students” at UCLA on April 27 as part of The Declaration Project, a TEP initiative of Center X. Photos by John McDonald