An open letter to the school board: Students need a voice

An open letter to the school board: Students need a voice

By Ben Shapiro, Staff Reporter

Dear School Board,

“We have board members that are parents; we have board members that are grandparents.” This was a comment one of your members made at the March 1 school board meeting, where you, the board, voted 9-0 to make the switch to a 4-day-a-week, in-person instructional model for students. 

As our board members, you are making the most important decisions for students right now: when we go into school, how often we go into school, if our schedules and teachers stay the same. While I understand these decisions are hand-crafted with only the best intentions, there is one missing factor, one gigantic hole in this process: we students just don’t have a voice.

I can’t remember the last time I saw a parent in class, taking notes, studying for a test. I don’t recall my classmates being grandparents balancing academics with extracurriculars and a social life. I haven’t noticed school board members cramming for a test, scrambling to write an essay or freaking out when they hear the words “pop quiz.” The reason? Because they aren’t the students. Yet, they are claiming to know what is best for us without consulting us.

When explaining some of the changes that could occur with a newly implemented 4-day in-person schedule, one concerning bullet point mentioned in the meeting was the possibility of changing students’ schedules to accommodate for growing in-person class sizes. While this was explained as a last resort, the fact that it is even being considered is beyond concerning. If you need a time check, it is March. We have less than three months left of school. You shouldn’t be changing students’ teachers this late into the year. We know how they teach, how to do well in their class, and most importantly, we have already formed strong interpersonal bonds with them.

We have heard from our teachers, parents, administrators and government officials time and time again that everything they are doing in the push to open schools is to provide better education and to better our mental health. News flash: it’s not. You are making these decisions without our input, without asking the very students who you are trying to help. 

I have not once been offered the opportunity to productively strategize with you. You haven’t given me the opportunity to give you any open-ended feedback. Throughout the duration of what is one week shy of an entire year of distance learning, I received one survey in which you asked, “is this working for you? Yes or no?” Do not claim that you have received the input of students when you do not get complex, thought out responses from everyone.

 I know you will soon have to make the difficult decisions pertaining to the future implementation or rejection of a block schedule, asynchronous Wednesdays, and quarterless grading. When the time comes, please call upon us. We want to be a part of the decision making. We students can tell you what works the best; you don’t have to guess. I know that you are trying your best and that you have years of experience in your position, but what you don’t have is experience as a student right now.

You are the school board. You are a group of elected officials, chosen to represent us. Please represent us, and let us have a voice. Let us give you a first-person account of how distance learning is going. Let us have a say in our future. Let us help you understand. Let us work with you to make these difficult decisions. 

Let us have a voice.

Sincerely,

Ben Shapiro


Ben Shapiro can be reached at [email protected]