MPR News with Angela Davis

Putting students at the center of their own education

Three adults and three teenagers on stage with Angela Davis
Students and educators talk about school reform with MPR News host Angela Davis (far right) at a conference hosted by the nonprofit organization Education Evolving at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis on May 7.
Bruce Silcox

We hear a lot about students who are not engaged in school.  

But what happens when schools begin to do things differently to give students more control over their education — in everything from hiring staff to student discipline policies?  

MPR News host Angela Davis shares a conversation she moderated this spring with high school students, principals and teachers from three public schools who are finding new ways to support student leaders. 

A technical high school on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota is helping students explore careers and Indigenous identity. A small public charter high school in Brooklyn Park involves students resolving discipline issues. And, at a small-town school in southeastern Minnesota high school students help out in the elementary school classrooms.  

The panel discussion was held May 7 in Minneapolis at an annual education reform gathering called “Student-Centered Learning for Equity” convened by the Minneapolis-based nonprofit organization Education Evolving and supported by the Bush Foundation.  


  • Cari-Ana Garcia Luna is the director and superintendent of SAGE Academy, a public charter high school in Brooklyn Park.  

  • Skye Leng is a ninth grader at SAGE Academy.   

  • Marlin Kingi is a social studies teacher and student council advisor at Lakota Tech High School, a public high school in Oglala Lakota County on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  

  • Marcel Swallow is a sophomore at Lakota Tech High School.  

  • Luke Kjelland is principal of Spring Grove Public Schools, a public kindergarten through 12th grade school in Spring Grove in southeast Minnesota.  

  • Ellie Halverson is a senior at Spring Grove Public Schools.    

Subscribe to the MPR News with Angela Davis podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or RSS.  

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.    

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