“Why the hell are you listening to a 17 year old?” high school student Nikhil Goyal asks educators and parents from 125 schools and districts. He proceeds to make a powerful case why student voice must be sought and honored in a conversation among all stakeholders about how to transform our schools. “It’s up to us,” Goyal reminds us, “to create a new order in education… Are you with me?”

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17 year old Nikhil Goyal is a student at Syosset High School in Long Island, New York. He writes prolifically in the national press, including The New York Times and The Huffington Post, and is the author of the recent book One Size Does Not Fit All: A Student’s Assessment of School. Just a couple of nights before this event, Nikhil was in San Francisco owning Michelle Rhee in a debate. A quick story, that hopefully won’t embarrass Nikhil: early on the process of organizing this event, I asked Nikhil if I should speak with his parents, what with his being a minor and all. He explained that he was used to traveling to conferences and workshops alone, and that it wasn’t a big deal. Cut to last Friday, and Mrs. Goyal was on my cell phone. “Nikhil is here in the room, and he doesn’t think I need to talk to you. But as his mother, I’d like to know who’s going to be responsible for him should anything happen in Los Angeles.” It is hard to remember that Nikhil is a teenager — “just” a teenager, as we’re often tempted to say — when he sets so inspiring an example for adults to follow. -CT

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  • Linda-marie Monier

    This inspired me to adapt my thinking. I once read that too much of education is spent answering questions that are not being asked. Nikhil gives some specific ways to bring students into the shaping of educational choices that are fitting for our modern times.