Staff Editorial: Student Opinion Should Play Bigger Role in District Decisions

Many+people+attended+the+Board+Meeting+Monday+in+person.

Many people attended the Board Meeting Monday in person.

For a while now, we have noticed that D303 community tends to ignore and discredit student voices while also not informing students about the decisions that directly affect them. Students have time and time again been the last to know about major decisions.

One major example is the return of finals. Students were never surveyed on whether they thought bringing back finals was a good idea. We understand that the district is trying to get back to a normal pre-Covid existence, but the truth is that the world is still not normal. Students are still struggling with the pandemic, and adding finals on to that is not helpful. Students were also the last people to find out about finals, as we didn’t even know about them until two weeks ago. We were already through the majority of the semester before we found out that we were going to have to deal with finals. This is a subject that students feel very strongly about, and many would love to share their thoughts if given the opportunity. However, a chance was not presented, cutting students out of a process that impacts them the most.

Because the D303 School Board is not creating and providing spaces to hear student voices one-on-one, students must actively seek them out and speak in a public setting to get people to hear them. They must go to the board meeting and stand up for themselves, presenting ideas which may go directly against what other parents or community members believe, creating tension. This environment is not a comfortable one for students to be in, and it makes it more difficult for students to share. 

However, even if students do share their opinion, it doesn’t mean that it will be heard. Last spring we saw a number of students speak on the topic of Deep Equity at the March 8 board meeting. These students shared their experiences as a minority in their schools, advocating for the board to advance with Deep Equity. Even though the board voted that night to move forward in their contract with Deep Equity, that did not prevent backlash from parents, with many sharing angry posts on social media. It seems like the parents won in the end as the contract with Deep Equity is terminated and no concrete steps have been made by the board since then. 

Long talks about equity audits are still underway as the board tries to strike a balance between the opposing groups, but it is taking months, and still no concrete plan is in place yet. 

Those students in March spoke up about what they saw and experienced when so many other students don’t. At almost every board meeting we see parents of high school age kids speaking about their children’s experiences. However, we believe that if you are in high school and you care about an issue passionately, you should be there speaking during Citizen Comments. As evidenced by the students speaking about Deep Equity, high school students are old enough to formulate an opinion and express their opinion to others. We deserve to be listened to and influence decisions that impact us directly.  

As students, we have the most experience when it comes to changes being made by the board. We witness the consequences, positive and negative, where board members can’t. We have valuable knowledge and experience that no one else in our community has, and if we want to influence change to improve our schools, we need to share it. After all, who knows what’s best for students other than students? 

While we know that students’ voices cannot change everything, we definitely think it can make a difference. Students are most directly affected, so they should be the ones who help the board make decisions. Even if the board or administration doesn’t agree with what students are saying, it is still important to speak up and share what we think.

The purpose of the staff editorial is to start a conversation. The editorial topic and stance are discussed and agreed on by all members of the editorial board. While only one editor writes the article and the editorial may not represent each editor’s opinion 100%, it does represent an editorial consensus. Again, the purpose is discussion. Let us know what you think through Twitter @SCNNewspaper and email at [email protected]