We must engage Federal Way youth

Today’s youth are politically maturing during a time when our country is abdicating its leadership seat at the world’s table. Like the rest of us, they are witnessing the slow destabilization of our country’s culture, institutions and shared community values.

So how can we prepare Washington’s 1.1 million public school children for a bright future when we don’t know what tomorrow will hold?

In Federal Way, we aim to provide students with a world-class education, so each child is given the opportunity to realize their own dreams. But like most other public school districts in the country, we have been struggling to ensure that every child reaches their full potential.

As a public servant of color, I feel the responsibility to forge an inclusive path forward that centers on the concerns of student. Because one day, these emerging youth leaders will hold us accountable to the promises that were made to them.

We must begin to challenge the traditional top-down approach to addressing the lack of quality public education in K-12 schools. That’s why in Federal Way, civic leaders and myself are working with community organizations to encourage high school students to become the change that they would like to see happen in the world today.

When our communities come together to solve our region’s most pressing challenges, we can empower every child whether black, white or brown to recognize their own brilliance and genius. It’s time we choose to make a collective impact by bringing together organizations and people from different sectors to work toward upgrading our approach to improving K-12 education and policy.

Every day that we ignore the concerns of youth leaders is one more day that we fail to identify the immediate ways we can begin to improve the educational experiences our children have access to. We need to welcome youth leaders to the table and intentionally work alongside them. Together, we can create integrated community-oriented solutions that work for all of us.

Community-oriented solutions are key for progress in the turbulent times we are living in and our world today. This could include restorative justice practices for our youth, community policing practices, more diverse juries, alternatives to youth jails, funding for after school programs and developing apprenticeship programs.

I am determined to create something revolutionary and transparent in the form of youth engagement in our city that focuses on empowering students to become fully engaged participants in the creation of solutions for our community.

Jesse Johnson, Federal Way City Council

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