Last summer, our team launched “Educational Equity ACTion!”—an exciting partnership between the Campaign for Educational Equity and Epic Theatre Ensemble’s Epic NEXT program, which pairs professional actors with selected students from NYC high schools year round. Guided by their teaching-artist mentors, Epic NEXT students write and perform original performance pieces based on important social issues.
In July, students participated in a series of CEE-facilitated “Know Your Educational Rights” workshops—featuring parent- and youth-friendly handouts —to introduce them to their educational rights under NY state law. Over the past few months, the students interviewed various education stakeholders to learn more about these issues, and they used this material to write their scripts.
This past weekend, those brilliant young artists brought Broadway to Albany, performing their pieces, for the first time ever, at the annual New York State PTA Legislation/Education Conference!
In front of dozens of PTA presidents from school districts throughout the state, the students delivered a powerful set of original monologues, skillfully blending heart-wrenching, personal stories—from the perspectives of students, parents, and educators—with detailed information about the impact of educational-rights violations on the futures of NY children in under-resourced schools.
How did New York’s parent leaders respond to these budding education activists? A standing ovation, tons of encouragement, and invitations to perform at several district-based meetings and conferences! One parent who is also a classroom teacher told the students that their stories of resistance to crushing educational inequities had inspired her to postpone an early retirement and continue striving to ensure her students the level of education they need and deserve. Following a rich Q & A session, almost all of the audience members rushed the stage to learn more from and about these talented young people, all of whom attend schools located at the Evander Childs Campus in the Bronx.
CEE is extremely proud to work with Epic and such talented young artists—New York’s bright stars—to expand youth participation and youth voice in advocating for true educational equity.
To help sustain and expand our efforts to equip New York students and families with high-quality information about their educational rights, please click here.
Stay tuned for videos from the performance!