Meet Crosscut's Community Idea Lab winner

By Berit Anderson
Crosscut archive image.
By Berit Anderson

Abi Gibson is a high school senior. The oldest of three sisters, she's a vocal jazz nut and, like a lot of other high schoolers, she isn't sure yet what she wants to 'be' when she grows up.

But there's one thing she sees pretty clearly. Education. Gibson isn't put off by the state Legislature's working and reworking of funding packages or the constant arguments about class sizes and charter schools.

From where she's standing, Washington's school debate is pretty simple really. It's all about the students.

"Change happens from the students up," she told the audience Tuesday night at Crosscut's Community Idea Lab.

Gibson was one of five finalists presenting to the audience last night; all of whom had submitted ideas inspired by a question Crosscut posed to the community: How can we make K-12 classrooms more student-focused, individualized and community-centered?

Crosscut archive image.
The Community Idea Lab finalists, judges and MC with Crosscut Managing Editor, Berit Anderson. Credit: David Pynchon.

Gibson's proposal — a student advisory board that would shadow Seattle school board members, participate in discussions and decision-making, and provide student input on decisions — was narrowly voted the winner of those five by the Community Idea Lab audience.

“A number of other cities and states have student representation on the school board,” Gibson said in an interview, pointing to Portland and Washington State’s Board of Education.

Appointment to the board, which Gibson proposed would have eight members — one for each region of the Seattle Public School district, would be application-based. Gibson foresees principals or teachers nominating students.

“If students had a say in the decisions being made, those decisions would fit the students better,” she said.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Berit Anderson

Berit Anderson

Berit Anderson was Managing Editor at Crosscut, following tech, culture, media and politics. She founded Crosscut's Community Idea Lab. Previously community manager of the Tribune Company’s Seattle blogging network, her work has also appeared in YES! Magazine and on the Huffington Post, Geekwire, and KBCS 91.3 radio. She served as Communications Director at Strategic News Service, a weekly newsletter that predicts global trends in tech and economics, and Future in Review, an annual tech conference which gathers C-level executives to solve global problems. Her weaknesses include outdoor adventure, bananas with peanut butter and big fluffy dogs.