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How community-centered, peer-to-peer, youth knowledge exchanges are evolving into a strong economic and political foundation on which to build radical public education.
Following in the rich traditions in African American cooperative economic and educational thought, teacher-organizer Jay Gillen describes the Baltimore Algebra Project (BAP) as a youth-run cooperative enterprise in which young people direct their peers’ and their own learning for a wage. BAP and similar enterprises are creating an educational network of empowered, employed students.
Gillen argues that this is a proactive political, economic, and educational structure that builds relationships among and between students and their communities. It’s a structure that meets communal needs—material and social, economic and political—both now and in the future. Through the story of the Baltimore Algebra Project, readers will learn why youth employment is a priority, how to develop democratic norms and cultures, how to foster positive community roles for 20–30 year-olds, and how to implement educational accountability from below.
About the Author
Jay Gillen has taught and organized in and around Baltimore City Public Schools since 1987. In 1994, after a 2-year organizing campaign, he became teacher-director of the new Stadium Middle School, the first community-controlled public school in Baltimore in many years. Working with graduates of the Stadium School, Gillen developed the peer-tutoring Baltimore Algebra Project (BAP). He currently teaches in a juvenile detention center for young women and is helping to develop a peer-to-peer youth enterprise incubator. Gillen is the author of numerous articles and the book Educating for Insurgency: The Roles of Young People in Schools of Poverty.
“Readers interested in the intersection of political activism, economics, community, and education will find ample food for thought in Gillen’s insightful call for action.” —Library Journal
“A must-read for activists and theorists who are concerned about democratic life in contemporary America.” —Theresa Perry, author of Young, Gifted, and Black: Promoting High Achievement Among African-American Students
“A visionary tour de force built on a rock-solid foundation of teaching and organizing.” —William Ayers, coauthor of “You Can’t Fire the Bad Ones!”: And 18 Other Myths About Teachers, Teachers’ Unions, and Public Education
“Anyone who wants to learn how to support youth development outside the dominant paradigms needs to wrestle with Gillen’s argument that economic empowerment, political activism, and education aren’t three different things; for Black people, they are three aspects of one thing. An extraordinarily important book, one Ella Baker would have loved.” —Charles Payne, author of I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement