Speak Truth

 Student-led Civic Discourse

Speak Truth is honest and respectful discussion about contemporary social issues – by students, for students.

Each program brings students together from all over the District – public, public charter, and private schools – to engage in a dialogue that exposes them to a diverse array of perspectives.

Through student-facilitated conversations, participants learn to productively and respectfully discuss current, controversial topics. The thought-provoking conversations at Speak Truth teach students to defend their stances on a myriad of issues and help them develop and recognize the power of their voices. As a national model for civic discourse and dialogue among young people, Speak Truth seminars have the power to shape a generation of socially conscious future leaders and citizens who will be responsible for building a better future for us all.

Transformative Education Opportunity

Prepares students to thrive

in a university classroom, where they will engage in similar high-level discourse

Creates space for dialogue

where students can safely share their voices and experiences

Exposes students to a variety of media

through speeches, essays, movies, news articles

Provides community service hours

 to students who facilitate discussions and write follow-up papers

Models Inspired Teaching in action

emphasizing student-directed classrooms

 Attend or Facilitate at Speak Truth

Speak Truth Seminars are unique and invaluable opportunities to talk about important, current topics with students from a range of backgrounds and experiences. Designed for students, by students, each conversation allows students to meaningfully engage with a text, topics, and their peers.

Speak Truth Seminars for school year 2019-2020 will occur on the following dates:

  • September 26*: Thurgood Marshall Academy
  • October 17: National Cathedral School
  • November 21: Thurgood Marshall Academy
  • December 19: Location TBD
  • January 16: Location TBD
  • February 13*: Location TBD
  • March 19: Location TBD
  • April 23*: Location TBD
  • May 21: Location TBD

Note: Speak Truth generally takes place on the 3rd Thursday of each month. Dates marked with a “*” are not a 3rd Thursday.

Virtual Seminar Opportunities: During the 2018-19 school year, Speak Truth expanded its reach beyond Washington by holding monthly virtual seminars in addition to our in-person seminars. These discussions took place using Zoom videoconferencing and functioned in a similar format as our in-person seminars (except students easily tuned in from anywhere on their computers or phones). Convening students online allows Speak Truth to broaden its impact and promotes greater diversity of thought and experience on the part of the participants. While there are no virtual seminars currently scheduled for school year 2019-20, we will let you all know if plans change.

Inspiring Changemakers and Critical Conversationalists

This year, for the first time, we are offering a learning opportunity for adults who wish to create Speak Truth-like learning experiences for their students! Inspiring Changemakers and Critical Conversationalists will take place during and directly after Speak Truth seminars from September 2019 through January 2020. Each month, participating teachers will be invited to observe Speak Truth discussions (from 5:15-7pm). Once student discussions have concluded, Center for Inspired Teaching expert instructors will lead teachers in activities, guided reflection, and discussion of what they observed during a post-event seminar (7:15-8:15). Inspired Teaching will supply participants with readings, activity guides, and other resources they can use in their own schools, and will coach these participants through the experience of implementing Speak Truth-style critical conversations with their own students, connected to curriculum and geared towards students’ interests.

Past Speak Truth Seminars

September 26, 2019 Seminar at Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School
The Impact of School Shootings on Mental Health
The Psychological Aftermath of Surviving School Shootings

The N-Word in the Classroom
Too Taboo for Class?
Good Teachers Use the N-Word

June 12, 2019 Seminar at George Washington University (National History Day Speak Truth on the Mall)
May 16, 2019 Seminar at Georgetown Day School
March 27, 2019 Virtual Seminar
February 28, 2019 Seminar at Wilson High School

Mandatory Black History and Ethnic Studies in Schools
     • Black History Month in Schools—Retire or Reboot?

 Who Helps Schools More: Counselors or Security
     • Counselors Versus Cops
     • More social workers, not officers, in schools

Strike One and You’re Out!  End Zero Tolerance Policies
     • ‘Zero tolerance’ policies disproportionately punish black girls, professor says
     • How Zero-Tolerance Policies Hurt Kids
     • Betsy DeVos Revokes Obama Discipline Guidance Designed to Protect Students of Color

Hire More Black Teachers
     • Hire More Black Teachers Now!
     • Study: Having Just One Black Teacher Can Up Black Students’ Chances of Going to College

How Do We Use Social Media Healthily?

    • Excerpt from Jean Twenge’s iGen

Living in Color: Colorism in Professional Environments
     • Schools’ Discipline for Girls Differs by Race and Hue
     • Darker-skinned Black Job Applicants Hit More Obstacles

Do Standardized Tests Impact the Demographics of DC Schools?
     • 
D.C. had a plan to diversify one of its most selective high schools

February 28, 2019 Seminar at Wilson High School

Mandatory Black History and Ethnic Studies in Schools
     • Black History Month in Schools—Retire or Reboot?

 Who Helps Schools More: Counselors or Security
     • Counselors Versus Cops
     • More social workers, not officers, in schools

Strike One and You’re Out!  End Zero Tolerance Policies
     • ‘Zero tolerance’ policies disproportionately punish black girls, professor says
     • How Zero-Tolerance Policies Hurt Kids
     • Betsy DeVos Revokes Obama Discipline Guidance Designed to Protect Students of Color

Hire More Black Teachers
     • Hire More Black Teachers Now!
     • Study: Having Just One Black Teacher Can Up Black Students’ Chances of Going to College

How Do We Use Social Media Healthily?

    • Excerpt from Jean Twenge’s iGen

Living in Color: Colorism in Professional Environments
     • Schools’ Discipline for Girls Differs by Race and Hue
     • Darker-skinned Black Job Applicants Hit More Obstacles

Do Standardized Tests Impact the Demographics of DC Schools?
     • 
D.C. had a plan to diversify one of its most selective high schools

January 30th, 2019 Virtual Seminar
December 20, 2018 Virtual Seminar
November 24, 2018 Virtual Seminar

October 18, 2018 at Georgetown Day School

September 20, 2018 at Cesar Chavez Public School (Capitol Hill Campus)

See discussion topics and readings from last year here.

This is much better by far than other learning opportunities! The freedom to explore and learn through authentic conversations is really engaging and pushes both reflection and action.

— Adult Visitor, Speak Truth

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