The Gen Z Collective
Quality education is so important, the students at STEPS are taking action! Read on below to find out more!
1. Tell us all about you and your organization!
Students Toward Equitable Public Schools (STEPS) is a student-led organization focused on education equity in Montgomery County. Montgomery County has one of the nation’s best school systems, but working-class students and minorities do not receive the same standard of education as wealthy White and Asian students, which is incredibly unjust. The color of your skin and the amount of money your parents make should not determine your opportunities in life, which is our mission. STEPS first coalesced around the issue of school boundaries, which perpetuate de facto school segregation in our county. Since then, we have expanded to address the disparities exacerbated by coronavirus, the issue of police officers in schools and Eurocentric curriculum.
2. Why do you think it’s important for your generation to let their voices be heard?
Education equity is such an unique issue in that the vast majority of the stakeholders have no voting power or say in school processes. With many other causes like climate change and gun reform, members of the base have influence over who’s in power, via the ballot box. In education equity students really do not have influence in the decision making processes. That needs to change. There’s also the added factor of exigency -the education you receive in the present affects so much of your future and if you wait to advocate until you’re an adult it will be too late and the damage will have already been done. With every other issue as well, our generation will feel the consequences of our action or apathy the longest
3. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?
I’m optimistic about the social change I see right now. I see so many of my peers speaking out against police brutality, racism and sexual violence like never before. This moment is also unique in that police brutality and racism are no longer solely championed by black people and sexual violence is no longer solely championed by solely women. I am a bit pessimistic though because educational disparities are just another permutation of racism. There are so many manifestations of racism and I worry that when we mitigate one, a new permutation will appear.
4. What are the most important issues facing our world right now? And in the future?
There are so many issues facing our world right now, I probably don’t even know all of them, forgive me for being ignorant of some. Climate change, racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and other things which then manifest themselves in education, housing, healthcare, pay and more.
5. What does your organization offer that helps the world be a better place?
Our organization is making Montgomery County a place of equal opportunity and experience for all children. We are also setting the precedent and stirring the pot so that other jurisdictions pay attention and hopefully get inspired to do the same.
6. Will you be voting in the next election?
I am so proud to say I voted for the first time this year, for local and national positions. Local elections do not get enough credit, they are just as important, if not arguably more. It’s so important to vote, if the system does not work for you then vote in people who will work for you. We’re definitely seeing a shift away from the political machines of the past and towards a future with good people who care about their community.
7. Please tell us all about your current campaigns, projects and endeavors.
In wake of a hate crime in our school district, Students Toward Equitable Public Schools is using this moment as an example of what happens when we allow racial segregation to persist and how as a result, white children barely interact with people of color. We’re using this awful event to point to a solution and a wider pressing issue: the need to address de facto segregation. We’re also doing a similar thing with police brutality and institutional racism -using this moment to emphasize the need to remove police officers from schools and have a more reflective curriculum.
8. Tell everyone where to find you online and on social platforms.
@moco_steps on facebook, instagram and twitter!