Our Education System Silences Students

Currently, schools don't offer students enough choices within their eductations.

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No one in school currently has a choice in anything that happens, not even the teachers. No one knew the class codes until the fourth day of school and when school began this semester, we were quickly rushed into a whole new system of learning. When emailing staff members the night before the first day, they had no idea what was to happen the next day. They were told at the last minute and all preparation had gone down the drain.

Each day that I’m going to classes all I hear are teachers criticizing the response of the school board. Teachers are still perplexed at the sudden change of the whole system and I was lucky enough to make it to merely one class the whole day.

Not even teachers have a voice in how the school works. How will students be able to have a voice to shape their education when even teachers can’t keep up with the system?

My high school experience in having a voice that shapes my education has been minimal. Class choice is something many students at my school have a voice on, to an extent. However, I always felt like I was backed into a corner when it came to school.

In my sophomore year, I was able to choose between AP European History and AP World History. The problem is as much as I wanted to take world history for the world view and to opt-out of the western centered history as I’ve always had, but this time it’s in the title. I was quickly talked out of taking it, too many people had warned me that the teacher wasn’t good enough and that the exam pass rate was too low.

I had to choose the European history class at that point; schools are not about learning what you’re interested in, it’s about passing. I look back and think why is it so normal for a teacher to even have such a bad reputation? Having low pass rates should not be normal, if students are having a hard time in a class with a teacher or the information, they should be able to change it. The students are the ones learning the material, they are the ones that are most affected by the school. Students should have a strong enough voice in their own school to change the situation and rightfully criticize what’s not working.

I am very privileged to even have these classes as options but I can’t help but think that as a student I shouldn’t be facing that problem in the first place. The fancy AP in the title yet I didn’t choose it because it wasn’t the quality education that I expected. In a way, the choice was taken away from students.

The first Move School Forward Principal includes students having a direct impact on policy, practice and resource allocation. I have never even thought of the idea that we, as students could be a part of that. Education as we have grown up has always been on behalf of the adults and authority figures in our life. We listen to them because “that’s just the way it is,” a growing number of students aren’t given quality or equitable education but “that’s just the way it is.”

It shouldn’t be like that students can make positive changes, we know what we need. As a student, I am going to be a “functioning member of society” in no less than two years, but we should be functioning members now. Students absorb everything that’s given to us and we want to participate.

If education is for us it should be on behalf of us too. In my experience school is a hostile environment, students have been trained and conditioned to simply keep quiet and do as we’re told. It doesn’t feel like we’re learning for us but for them, I want to have a voice in education, not a voice that plans the prom but a voice where we as students can take our education into our own hands. The school board cannot represent me if I am not represented on the school board. The school board doesn’t know the issues that students face because they aren’t in our shoes or ask what it’s like to be in our shoes, and I never even knew that as a student I could ask and be a part of decision making that directly affects my peers and me.