Project Citizen

Ralph Nader highlights some creative curriculum at a Chicago elementary school:

In Room 405, since December, the entire course curriculum is devoted to one project and one goal – document the terrible disrepair and lack of facilities of the school and build community, state and national support for a new school!

I asked their teacher, Brian Schultz, how this came to be? He said he asked the 19 students in this class, all African-Americans from low-income families, what they wanted to work on. They replied “our school.” Reading, writing and arithmetic – they learn those and much more through this one single, expanding mission.

Looking over the students’ work product so far, I noticed a methodical sequence for their rationale. First they listed 89 “problems that affect our community and us.” They fit their school needs with their community at large in a kind of free association. Project Citizen, as they call their initiative, then zeroed in on their school – no stage or auditorium, rest rooms dirty and broken, no lunch room – eat in hallway, heat does not work, need to wear coats, no air conditioning, bullet holes/cracks in windows, few books in the library, broken fences outside, no attached gym. They learned how to take photos of what they verbally describe. They each wrote a description of their school.

Talk about making the best out of a horrible situation. Nader concludes with a well-written slam on George W. Bush (hey, he is running for president, after all):

Maybe George W. Bush will divert his attention as Mayor of Baghdad and start paying attention to these schools and their needs with some of that money he is wasting in the massive military budget that now takes half of the federal government’s operating expenditures.