When they showed up for class as usual a few weeks ago, a
group of students in the Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility were expecting
the same old classroom. Instead, what they found was new desks, chairs, books,
and laptop computers.
This wasn’t simply an upgrade, though. Educators with San
Diego County Office of Education’s Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS)
took the opportunity to encourage the students to use the reasoning and
collaboration skills called for in the Common Core State Standards.
Educators asked the kids in September why they needed the
items. The students pointed out that while they had up-to-date school books,
the books they had to read on their off time were outdated—some from the 1950s.
Their current desks and chairs were tagged with graffiti and were made of hard
plastic that was uncomfortable after sitting for a while. They also said the felt bad for their teacher
having to sit in a plastic chair and having a desk that did not close
correctly. Both of those were replaced as well.
“This is great,” said one juvenile detainee. “We really need
this stuff, and our teacher has a chair.”
Best of all, they had a variety of new books—from this
decade—to choose from for their reading pleasure.
JCCS administrators and students discussed and brainstormed
not only about why they needed the new items but also about what the students’
role would be in taking care of the new items and how they would effectively
use the requested items.