Student Should Have the Right to Vote on School Issues

December 16, 2011
By , Ballwin, MO
No one asked me what I thought about the new schedule. No one asked me what I thought about the new start times. No one asked my friend either, or her friend or the friend of her friend. No one asked us. The issue of students being left out of the decision making process at schools is a problem all around the world. However, I’m only going to focus on the students at my high school and how it affects them because it will allow me to go into more detail.

First of all, there are many different aspects of students not being given opportunities to voice their opinion. One, for example, is that by repressing the ideas of students on how the school should be run, schools are also taking away our freedom of speech by default. Earlier this year many of the students, who didn't like the change in the school stating times, expressed their discontent by trying to organize a protest. They all planned to camp outside of the high school on the parking lot, but this plan did not go through. However, the idea of it shows that students are willing to go to great lengths, such as camping outside of a school, to receive proper recognition for their opinions and feelings, but this should already be a right we receive due to the first amendment and our constitution.

Another part of the ‘students not being given proper representation’ problem is that many decisions get made without our input. I know that you're thinking that this point is fairly obvious, but it's also fairly important because it’s an obvious point. The results of new changes lead to students disliking the school board and the whole school altogether. It may even lead to them disliking the teachers even though, according to Mrs. Gebhard (an English teacher), the teachers are asked to give some input on the issues at hand but they are never really involved in the final decision making process. Also, an article states that perhaps students would learn and attend better if their time was being valued. (Listening to Student’s Voices) Students resentment towards being left out gets channeled negatively which impacts them negatively and can lead to inappropriate behavior and a fall in academic success.

Because this issue hurts the student’s pride in their schools and takes away our freedom of speech, our high school should do what they can to fix this problem. However, before I can go on to suggesting the many different solutions to this problem, we should look at the possible causes of this issue to better come up with a way to fix it. One cause might be that the school board already thinks that the students get representation through the student council, and that the process of electing StuCo members makes us feel more involved with decision making processes. This is a fair assumption because of the way all the students get excited during election week, but it’s also inaccurate. From a student perspective, electing Presidents and Vice Presidents is really just a popularity contest and we all have fun waiting to see who wins, and when they do, we all discuss what T-Shirts we want and what our homecoming float should be but that’s about it. Having a president and other officers does make us feel we are being involved in decision making processes but not important ones. Not the ones we want to be involved in. Alice Z., a sophomore, expressed her views on the election week. She said that she, “… really don’t care about it because it does not affect me…” and when asked to elaborate on why she doesn’t care she said that the elections don’t really give the students any power. Alice is onto something here. Student Elections are more of a fun contest than an election to pick proper candidates to represent us.

Another cause of the problem is that students do not have a chance to protest. They may make attempts and organize a way to express themselves but they never go through with it so the school board might not even know how we feel. Going back to the student protest earlier this year, we were on the right track and had everything sorted out, but in the end an administrator talked to one of the students hosting the protest and told him that if anything were to happen he would be responsible. Obviously, he backed down and called the whole protest off, but this event also shows that students try to voice their opinions through silly protests that don’t even work and that we need a new, productive way to let them express their thoughts.

Now, let’s go on to suggesting possible solutions. First, we should look towards other societies and see their examples. The biggest example to us would be our own government because of all the people that they have to look over and respect through involving them in decision making processes. Our government is a democratic republic which means that the citizens of the United States pick people to represent them by voting for specific candidates. Operative word: voting. This whole system works for the United States and has been working for us for many years so if we took this same concept and applied it to another scenario, we should get the same successful results. Also, another great thing about this system is that everyone feels as if they are being able to express their own opinions through voting for candidates that think will best represent them. Now, let’s apply this to our school. We take the student council idea but have the presidents and vice president be used to make decisions for us with the student board after discussing it with their respective class. However, when the talking is done and it comes to vote, all the students should be able to vote for whether they like new change or not. This will allow some of student perspective when deciding what decisions to make(the class officers) but at the same time still take in everyone else’s opinions through school wide votes.

Some might argue that this would be too hard to enforce because having a school wide vote would take a lot of time and paper, but there is another alternative to this. Online ballots, which we already use to vote for homecoming court, and though it does not ensure that all the students will vote it still gives them the option to do so. Another argument is that an inappropriate verdict will be passed due to the school voting. However, the head of the Parkway school board gets to veto rules that he finds harmful to the school, but he has to give a full speech as to why he made this decision and broadcast it to the students. Giving students the right to vote would allow us to overcome the problems that our school faces and is overall the right decision to make.

However, if we don’t create a solution and enforce it right away this problem will only escalate. It could lead to hatred in schools because of the repression of student’s opinion and school issues that hurt students in the long run. Creating a system to allow votes for student we can encourage students to voice their opinions and also create peace between the school board and the students. If it works for the government then it should also work for us.

Works Cited
Christians, Nick. "Listening to Student Voices." Education Evolving. Ed. Carrie Bakken. Avalon Charter School , June 2005. Web. 9 Dec. 2011. <http://www.educationevolving.org/pdf/Listening_to_Student_Voices.pdf>.

Gebhard, Melissa. Personal interview. 9 Nov. 2011.


Zou, Alice. Personal interview. 7 Nov. 2011.





Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback