Community Engagement & Service

Dreams Deferred: Injustice in Urban Education, Washington DC

Alternative Break DC Education

The Trip

This trip will focus on the inequalities in DC’s public education system. It will be an opportunity for students to explore a side of our nation’s capital that is often forgotten. DC is widely known as the proud home of our nation’s leaders and the heart of our democratic interests. Images of DC boast the beauty of the White House and the Capital building. But in the shadow of those images is another side of DC that is often forgotten or ignored. DC is home to a community of long time residents whose lives are largely characterized by poverty and violence. We would like to expose and explore the world of public education in DC that has played a significant role in perpetuating the poverty and suffering of residential communities in our nation’s capital, as well as meet those dedicated people who are doing something about it.

Our trip will include school visits, exposure to current education policy debates through Q&A’s with government officials, and an understanding of the grassroots efforts being made to improve public education through visits with education-focused non-profit organizations. The trip itinerary will provide a dynamic and comprehensive understanding of the scope of the public education system in DC and the challenges it is facing. By the end of the trip students will have been exposed to issues ranging from teacher’s unions, to school funding, to the day-to-day trials that teachers confront in low-resourced urban classrooms.

The trip will include collaboration with a number of community partners including City Year DC, DC Reads and the Children’s Defense Fund. Participants will have the opportunity to work alongside these various organizations in an effort to make a measurable difference in the lives of DC public school students. This will be an unparalleled opportunity to understand and get involved in a critical social justice issue that exists in our very city!

About the Student Trip Leaders

Sophia Miyoshi is a junior majoring in Sociology with a minor in Education Studies. She is passionate about activism and has participated in multiple campaigns and events on and off campus. Sophia also participated in the 2013 Alternative Break trip to Cuba which broadened her perspective on systems of education.

Tentative Itinerary (subject to change):

Day 1
Arrive at hostel downtown
Dinner with parent activist who fought school closures in Ward 5
Watch documentary Waiting for Superman at the hostel

Day 2
Meet with a Professor and community member to talk about gentrification
Historical tour of the city (focusing on gentrification)
Reflection activity with the group

Day 3
Visit and volunteer in Hart Middle School (Ward 8)
Q&A with Liz Davis, president of the Washington DC Teacher’s Union
Volunteer at after school programs, coordinated with DC Reads

Day 4
Visit and volunteer at Stanton Elementary School in Southeast DC
Q&A with Stanton City Year team during lunch
Talk with Admin of Stanton to hear about their five year turn around plan
Go to the Department of Education, Q&A with representative
Meet with David Johns, the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans
Educational documentary screening and discussion at the hostel

Day 5
Short visit with a school in Tenleytown
Visit KIPP charter school in Shaw
Panel discussion with Teach for America representatives and KIPP volunteer alumni to hear about the programs and firsthand experiences within classrooms
Return to hostel to have dinner with a professor who will talk about culturally relevant pedagogy in urban education

Day 6

Visit McKinley Tech in Northeast DC to observe classrooms in a STEM school
Meet with the teacher, Seth Tendler at lunch to discuss his experiences and his understanding of culturally relevant pedagogy
Meet with Kaya Henderson, current Chancellor of DCPS

Day 7
All day community service project with City Year
Attend evening youth event in the city

Day 8
Meet with Empower DC about activism surrounding DC school closures
Meet with Children’s Defense Fund
Return to AU via Metro



Location: Washington, DC

Dates: March 8 – March 15, 2014

Email The Trip Leaders: Sophia Miyoshi

Faculty/Staff Advisor:

Cost: $350

Cost Includes: Transportation, room and board, meals, and all activities.