Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Many of the participants in Democracy Education classes are under the age of 18. This section is for parents of young people who are interested in, or actively involved in Democracy Education classes or the programming at the Institute for Community Leadership or the Martin Luther King Jr Freedom Center.
In what parts of the country do you currently offer Democracy Education classes?
ICL has active coaching staff in Western Washington and Eugene and Portland Oregon, Miami, Florida and the Greater Bay Area of California. In Oakland, our programming is offered in conjunction with the Martin Luther King Jr Freedom Center. Additional sites may be considered based on regional resources and scope of proposed project.
My child was selected for this program at their school. How are students selected?
ICL staff meet with school personnel, generally someone who knows ICL or has hosted Democracy Education classes in the school setting. ICL staff sometimes are invited in to make a presentation in a school classroom, or pull-out session designed to assist in identifying interested students. Students are selected based on their emergent leadership skills, those who express interest in being a part of changing something within the school or community, or who are interested in personal leadership development. makes suggestions to the school personnel on recommended group composition that will best facilitate achieving these specific workshop objectives.
In general, gatherings for the classes are the most successful that have the greatest diversity in the room; age; gender; socio-economic background; linguistic; academic; racial and cultural; regional and "cliché" or group representation as possible. Classes are designed to assist students in getting out of their comfort zones, and go deep into where they come from, and what is their purpose in life. We have found that these discussions and explorations happen best with diversity in the room.
What is the role of the teacher or school staff?
A teacher or school staff is encouraged to participate in the classes as a participant, initially. As teacher's comfort level with the curriculum grows, they might decide to take on a facilitating role within the context of the Democracy Education classes. When we are conducting classes in an in-school setting, attendance by the teacher in the classroom is optional. Many of our classes are presented without school staff in attendance.
How is the supervision at the out-of-school activities, or the classes held at the O’Dell Center in Kent, Washington?
All out-of-school activities are coordinated and staff by the certified coaching team of ICL. Activities are highly structured, and ICL staff provides transportation. Students meet together at a common gathering place, an ICL office or school lobby for example, set the purpose for the activity, set a tone, then travel to the activity or class, together. After all activities, students evaluate their roles individually and collectively. They coach one another on how they might have done an even better job of achieving the purpose. Students are then transported home or to an agreed upon site where parents have arranged to pick up their students. Students are under direct supervision of ICL staff at all times.
What do you teach at the classes?
The content of the classes involves the principles of nonviolence, changing ourselves to be the change we wish to see in the world. Classes are designed to assist in the development of common-good values of interdependency, mutuality and ecological sustainability. In Democracy Education classes, students read, write and read what they have written to one another. They coach each other on how to change conduct, so it is more aligned with core beliefs and cultural values. Classes are very interactive, and create a safe, equitable space where everyone’s voice is heard. Parents are always welcome in all classes.
How do Democracy Education classes support the need for teachers to address Standards Based Outcomes and various state testing requirements?
Democracy education is a literacy-based program. Students read, write and read what they have written in each session. Classes improve student performance in areas of reading, writing, listening, public speaking, oratory and social skill development. Students evidence dramatic improvement in respect for self and others. More detailed information of ICL's compliance with Washington State Standards (Essential Academic Learning Requirements) is available upon request.
What is the cost for the classes or program activities?
There is usually no-charge for in-school or out-of-school classes or programming. Special events that involve travel may require some involvement from families to assist in raising needed funds. You would know this well in advance of the relevant activity.
My child attended a class at their school. How do schools and community organizations fund the classes?
Some classes are funded at the district level, others by individual school. Administrators have accessed reading, Safe Schools, anti-violence, gang or substance abuse dollars in the past. The impact of the class is broad, allowing for greater flexibility in funding sources. Some schools have utilized the community component to encourage the private sector to sponsor the workshops. Many have added workshops to Action Plans or annual budget process and covered the fee out of standard budgetary sources.
What does a school need to provide on-site class or bring the ICL program?
Once we have identified a school contact person who will take the lead on ICL conducting classes at that school, all they need to provide is the group of selected students, and a space for the gathering! Classes generate a lot of noise, energy and love. A room that is free from loud or strong visible or auditory distractions is preferable. Also, a room where our noise will not interrupt others is also important. Students write, so chairs with tables or good comfortable writing surfaces is key. That's it. ICL facilitators provide all workbooks, pencils, paper, easel and supplementary materials needed for the classes.
Do students get to keep the workbooks?
Yes. Workbooks are given to the student participants at the end of the workshop, so they can take them home. An online study program is also available for graduating students.