We barreled across the high desert, five people to a car, training and debriefing as we drove, scouring data and reading other state plans in hotel rooms late at night, and stopping wherever we could for more coffee and chocolate. We did this because we care, and we believe that better policy is informed by local knowledge and that we train the next generation of interdisciplinary participatory researchers through mentoring and modeling. The students did it for the thrill of being engaged in something that matters.
As I reflect on our work using structured dialogue in Guilford County, NC, I become a witness to something happening in Next Generation Academy (NGA). Black parents begin to release some of the emotional burdens they retain from a long history of navigating the U.S. public education system.