YES! Recommends: Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA)

The Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA) is at the eye of a new sustainable education movement to give students the education they deserve, and citizens the planet they need.

Document Actions

IDEA logo

Mainstream American education is increasingly driven by standardized tests instead of real-life learning and curiosity.  Too often we hear about—or worse, witness—students stressing out, checking out, or dropping out every day.

The Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA) is at the eye of a new sustainable education movement to give students the education they deserve, and citizens the planet they need.

Democratic education starts from the premise that every young person is unique, and that all young people deserve the opportunity to live and learn in an environment that practices meaningful participation, supports self-initiative in learning, and is directed towards greater equality and social justice.

And, yes, it includes teaching the basics—literacy and numeracy—along with offering a clear connection between what students learn and how it will help them become savvy, fulfilled, and responsible members of their communities and the larger world.


IDEA Hallway So, how do I get started?

Democratic Education 101
Begin by reading What is Democratic Education? and watch the short video, Make Your Voice Heard. If you are itching for more in-depth information, read Dana Bennis' feature here.


“Eduvation” Library
IDEA’s Eduvation Library is brimming with articles and other resources on topics that include: place-based education, involving students in governance, and self-directed learning.  It also has a healthy selection of its own lesson plans and classroom activities, plus resources from other well-known organizations that embrace democratic education, such as Facing the Future and Teaching Tolerance.

Explore the Eduvation Library for practical, relevant, and innovative tools.

Survey: How democratic is my school?
Is your school demanding? Respectful? Tense? Are students encouraged to ask questions? Take the IDEA survey for a snapshot evaluation of what's happening at your school. Consider sharing it with students, parents, and your teaching colleagues.

Download the survey for your school’s learning environment snapshot.


IDEA resources that foster connection and collaboration

IDEA geocube students

  • Innovation Tours
    IDEA's Innovation Tours—which take place in various locations around the country— visit four schools that practice democratic education, and discuss what's happening in each one. The tours are an opportunity for professional development and networking with teachers from around the country.
  • Blogs and Podcasts
    entries from IDEA’s bloggers and listen to viewpoints from educators—people of different ages, backgrounds, locations, and roles in education who are passionate about learning that matters.
  • Stay Connected
    Learn about the latest events and resources in innovative education through IDEA’s free e-newsletter, and see what IDEA is highlighting in its Facebook showcase and Eduvation Library

 You can sign up for the free IDEA e-newsletter here.

IDEA girlsInstitute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA) is national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to ensure that all young people can engage meaningfully with their education and gain the tools to build a just, democratic, and sustainable world. The one year-old organization collaborates with communities around the country to reclaim and reinvent education, in ways that develop compassionate citizens and changemakers.


YES! Archive


Ednews Sept 2011 screenshotThe above resources accompany the September 2011 YES! Education Connection Newsletter


READ NEWSLETTER: Tales of a Beginning Teacher :: Prison food vs. School lunches