Education Circle of Change

Education Circle of Change Gathering 2010

Starting in 2008, the Education Circle of Change continued the work that began under the Circles of Change program. The mission of the Education Circle of Change was to bring together educators, organizers and advocates committed to equity, justice and democracy in and through education. Grounded in a desire to cultivate participatory democracy, it supported the individual and collective well-being of all children; nonviolent relationships between people and nature; and justice through collaborative action to transformation education and schooling.

The Circle had the firm belief that differences in approach or technique among diverse educational visionaries are ultimately superficial, and far less important than the common goal of replacing unequal, oppressive and authoritarian systems of schooling with a democratic and liberating culture of learning.

The core values of the Education Circle of Change were:

Equity: every child is entitled to a fully-funded, free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive, safe environment.

Democracy: everyone (every person) should have a voice and a vote on the policies that affect their lives.

Inclusivity: every single person, regardless of socioeconomic status, legal status, ability status, race, gender/sexuality, geography, language or culture is entitled to participate fully in every aspect of their education.

Dignity: our schools must embody respect for the inherent worthiness of every person and accommodate them accordingly. We must commit to restorative practices and affirm each person’s sense of positive identity.

Access: every stakeholder – in accordance with our commitment to inclusivity – has a right to participate in the learning environment that serves their community.

In 2009, Spirit in Action held its first Education Circle of Change gathering at Haley Farm in Tennessee. The gatherings continued through 2014 with 21 to 31 educators, organizers and advocates in attendance. Click here to read the experiences of Isaac Graves, a gathering attendee and early support of Education Circles of Change.

Impact of the Education Circle of Change

The Education Circle of Change produced notable results. This Circle had a profound impact on the 2010 US Social Forum where The People’s Assembly on Education at the 2010 US Social Forum ratified the Education Circle of Change’s statement of principles as its own. Linda Stout was one of the keynote speakers at the 2011 Education Revolution Conference (AERO).

Our 2011 national Education Circle of Change gathering of educators, organizers, parents and youth highlighted the importance of trans-local organizing to transform our public education system. In 2012, in partnership with several members of the Education Circle of Change, the network held local and regional gatherings throughout the country.

In 2014, at the final Education Circle of Change gathering, those gathered reviewed the work of the Circle over the past six years and decided to move the work in a new direction by expanding the reach of the existing education justice work through communications and to further refine a messaging framework for education justice. 

Listen to members of the Education Circle of Change talk about the impact of the circle on their work.