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The Alliance for Educational Justice (AEJ) is a new national alliance of youth organizing and intergenerational groups working for educational justice. AEJ aims to bring grassroots groups together to bring about changes in federal education policy, build a national infrastructure for the education justice sector, and build the capacity of our organizations and our youth leaders to sustain and grow the progressive movement over the long haul.
The groups participating in this alliance share an exciting alternative to the private market agenda for education. They represent a proven approach in the local communities in which they work, but one that has been marginalized in the mainstream education reform debates. The emerging alliance is in a position to bring their solutions to the national stage. This group of organizations is united by the common frameworks of human and civil rights, and is working on issues that include fighting to improve college access and advocating for youth voices in school governance, presenting alternatives to punitive school discipline and preventing the criminalization of student behavior. Many groups in the alliance share the goals of changing how high schools operate, creating more meaningful relationships between students and teachers, and developing opportunities for youth to effectively assert their voices in education policy debates and decisions. The groups also share many strategic approaches including building coalitions that transcend geographic boundaries, which are both multi-generational and multi-issue and aimed at developing strategic campaigns that focus on both inside and outside dimensions. Their work is broader than education reform; it is also about movement building.
Under the Obama Administration, the opportunity for local groups to define a national agenda and set of policy priorities and make an impact on the future of public education is unprecedented. With the passage of the recent stimulus bill, which will bring education resources to state and local government; as well as the impending debate over the re-authorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, there is a clear need for local groups to speak with one voice about the priorities for these and other upcoming federal education initiatives.