What is Just Ask Us?
Just Ask Us is a grassroots effort designed to amplify the voices of a million youth and families as schools across America respond to the COVID-19 crisis and related social and economic forces for change. Participants include students, parents, educators, and organizations across the country dedicated to asking a diverse array of students and families about what they value and what they would like to see changed about their schools.
2020 has become a pivotal year for the future of learning, living and livelihood in America. Just Ask Us is a non-partisan effort to more deeply understand what and where student and family educational demand is going. Due to the pandemic, economic downturn and social unrest more and more people to asking what is the purpose and value of schools moving forward? Now is the time to gather in an open, inclusive and trustworthy fashion how students and families respond to this essential question.
What is Just Ask Us trying to do?
Schools are experiencing significant budget cuts and are being pushed to adapt, if not, transform themselves as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. School decision makers need to listen to what students and families want in terms of just, meaningful and equitable educational opportunities and experiences. What do they want to change about schools? The single purpose of Just Ask Us is to amplify student and family voice as a force multiplier in school change.
Just Ask Us is designed to do three things:
Engage a million students and families in a short survey about what schools need to do next.
Listen deeply to uncover expressed and latent needs, demands and priorities.
Amplify common themes at the local, state and national level to inform school change.
We want to engage as many diverse voices as possible particularly people of color, poor people, immigrants, females, rural populations, and other marginalized individuals.
By October 2020, broadly disseminate what we have heard to inform school design and decision making.
What does the survey ask?
The survey asks about: a) the desired purpose of schooling; b) what is working now; c) what needs to be changed and/or started; d) school and community connections; and, e) issues of educational equity and justice.
You can access the survey on the home page.
What will be done with survey responses?
Participant privacy is a priority. All information collected in the Just Ask Us survey will remain anonymous. The information collected will only be used to identify broad and deep themes and trends.
We believe in full transparency. Once we have analyzed the information gathered, we will share openly and freely.
How is Just Ask Us organized?
Just Ask Us is completely volunteer driven, we are not a formal educational reform organization peddling a specific reform agenda and seeking resources to advance our own solutions. There is no central authority, budget or operational system. At this point in time, we are a growing community of students, families, educators, organizations and networks dedicated to a common purpose – discover and share in a just, equitable and effective way, the voices of students and families about what they want from their schools.
We are learning as we go. We strive to follow a small set of principles.
Be open to any person, group or organization who genuinely wants to engage, listen and amplify student and family voices.
Share what we learn openly and truthfully without advancing a particular reform agenda.
Feed and leverage the power of distributed leadership.
Work with clear focus, discipline and humility.
We believe the people and organizations that comprise Just Ask Us will be inspired to be more inclusive, equitable, and generous in all of their efforts moving forward. We also believe they will stay connected through existing and emergent networks that help scale impact at the local, state and national level.
Why should I get involved?
Education affects every dimension of a society. Unfortunately, student and family voices are not often included in decisions about the purpose, nature and value of education. Your participation in Just Ask Us is vital to identifying and capturing the perspectives of as diverse array of students and families as possible in a relatively short period of time. Your participation is vital to the future of schools and communities in your own backyard as well as all across America.
How can I help?
You can help by activating your personal networks and sharing the survey as widely as possible. We especially need help in reaching out to communities whose perspectives often are overlooked and/or undervalued.
You can share the survey through text messages, social media posts, e-mail, virtual discussion groups, or community announcements. You can help us connect to other people and organizations that would like to volunteer their time and services. Participation can mean anything from asking one student or parent to take the survey to engaging an entire school district to distribute the survey.
Our forthcoming OUTREACH TOOLKIT includes materials to support your efforts.
Please fill out the intake or volunteer forms on the home page to sign up.