Luke Risher Capstone

For my capstone I ran the Student Union chapter for a year. I choose this because I wanted to put my energy into an organization that will continue when I’m gone and continue to impact positive change. Over the course of the year Student Union was involved in many different things, we started of the year involved in recruiting, especially juniors, and building up our base and continued to do so over the year. We continued to take action around reforming school policing on a citywide level and gained a complaint system for School Police officers. Also we worked to learn more and bring student voice to the decision around our school location moving. We had weekly chapter meetings, frequently attended or held actions, attended citywide meetings, and did daily outreach. Over the course of the year I ran the instagram, facilitated meetings, communicated with citywide organizers, sent out emails and reminders, did constant outreach, and generally ran the chapter. But at the same time I was working to raise the organizing skills of other younger members so they would be able to continue the work. People got involved in citywide and also began to facilitate meeting. Through building up a leaderful organization my capstone was complete in ensuring that the Student Union would continue the powerful work.

Luke Risher - Capstone 2017 -  Bibliography


Dream Defenders. “Blacked Out History Rebellion.” Scribd. Dream Defenders, 4/1/2016. Online PDF. 10/16/2016.<>

This source is a specific workshop/lesson plan that was put together by the education activist collective Dream Defenders. It teaches the students about several different organizations that have done revolutionary work to impact the world including the Black Panthers, Brown Berets, and Left Roots. All of these organizations and movements are often taught in a negative aspect in schools and society. This helps Student Union gain knowledge from other active groups in history which can inform our tactics and strategies to create change. As a movement it is important to understand and draw from our history. Also these stories inspire us to action. This resource overall provides a great workshop to run in a chapter meeting.


The City of Philadelphia. Open Budget. The City of Philadelphia, 12/31/2016. Online Visual Chart. 9/26/2016. <>

This is the City of Philadelphia’s budget page where it has a visual graph with the budget breakdown as well as a written breakdown to the right. It shows what major divisions got what money and the subsets within those categories that got what funding. It’s a comprehensible way to visualize and understand the budget of Philadelphia. This is very useful to Student Union because as we try to educate ourselves about the local policies and how the political systems work we can draw on this understandable reliable source. Using this we can make informed and rational analysis and advocate for changes to this spending.


Mitchell, Dave. Beautiful Trouble. OR books, 2012. Paperback.

This source is an activist handbook that focuses on how to create change and build a movement. It is broken up into different sections that each contain different essays from many different authors. Each essay addresses some aspect of organizing and movement building. We plan to use this in the future and it has a been a part of the training of the citywide organizers for a long time. Each chapter can be taught through a workshop to build our collective knowledge. These resources are very relevant for the work that work that Student Union does because they give us the practical steps to create change.


C, T. “Brown, Garner and other tragedies under the Michael Jackson Microscope.” Parents United. 2014. 3. Online, 7/15/2016. <>

This is an article that discusses the racism and explores the influence of intertwined oppressions that impact our education system. It is a first hand account of a parent who describes her experience raising two children of color. This is relevant to our work because it is provides a non student first hand experience in explaining these issues that we also discuss and work on. Also this is a point of connection between students and parent and other members of the constituency that are impacted in Public education. This is one of our peer groups in the sense that it is working on the similar issues we are and there’s a lot of room for collaboration. This source is both useful as an individual article shedding information on a certain issue, and also as a group we can draw on and work with.


Dream Defenders. Dream Defenders. Nation Builder, 11/09/2016. Online. 2016. <>

This source is the website for Dream Defenders. Dream Defenders is a group that does organizing work around racial justice. Their work and strategies range from on the ground meetings, to clothing campaigns, to resource distribution. As Student Union we can draw from these tactics and learn how to better address the issue of racial justice in our work as well. Dream Defenders is a useful organization because a fair amount of their resources and strategies are published online and easily accessible. In the future also a collaboration could be possible on some larger scale projects we work on.


"National Popular Vote." National Popular Vote. 22 Jan. 2017. Web. 02 Feb. 2017. <>

The National Popularity Interstate Compact is a legal movement that would ultimately rid the U.S of the electoral college system. It is a compact where states agree to give their electoral votes to the winner of the national popularity count in the presidential elections. This compact was a concept and movement that Student Union evaluated and is continuing to advocate for after the results of the election. This website is a place to get information and gain connections relating to the compact. We used this in the past to gain more information and out together workshop and strategy sessions with it and we will most likely continue to do that in the future and draw from this source. This is also a model of how we can frame and spread awareness of and issue or policy we would like to effect.


Backpack Full of Cash. Dir. Sarah Mondale. Perf. Matt Damon. Turnstone, 2016. Film. Backpack Full of Cash. Web.

This is a film that came out recently (last year), which focuses on the privatization of American Public Schools. A large part of the film was filmed and based in Philadelphia and overall the film has a lot of information about the Philadelphia School system. The interviews and facts provide a greater understanding of the policies and how they impact students on the ground. This is useful for Student Union because it gives understanding of our own city and schools. We haven’t had a chance to watch it as a group yet, but it would be a great structure for a chapter meeting or citywide. Also the local based connections that put together the film could help Student Union with the media and promotion that we need.


Https:// "Group Plans Daily Protests until Trump's Inauguration." 6abc Philadelphia. 14 Nov. 2016. Web. 02 Feb. 2017.


This is an example of a successful action put together in Philadelphia relevant to issues that impact our communities. From this we can draw strategies and techniques that can help us build our own actions. Also Student Union attended this event so has a perspective on how the media may cover and address an event. Using this knowledge we can be aware of how to address and present our events and releases to the media and what we will get out of the media. Because media is such a crucial part of organizing work we must use articles and stories like this to understand how to use it to our advantage.


"PA General Assembly." The Official Website for the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Web. 02 Feb. 2017. <>

This is the home site of the PA general assembly. This is a site where we can see the policies and the people that make decisions that impact our local community. This source is the most up to date information which makes it a great primary source for Student Union as we learn more and explore the policies and political landscape of the schools. In our city the school district is run by the state so the policies are directly impacting us as students. From this data based we have a solid source to build our arguments and back them with facts.


Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum, 2000. Print.<

This source is the writing of Paulo Freire. This writing is a philosophy on education and society, it is basically addressing how education is done vs how it should be done. It breaks down what is wrong with the current set up of education and offers many solutions to the problem. This large scale visioning and philosophy is very important for us to understand as background. This is the starting point for building our grand imaginative vision for education and from there we can take the real world steps to build that. This source is still very relevant and Student Union teaches the concepts conveyed in this pedagogy through workshops and activities.