The Need for Student Voice in Spring Independent School District

In my school district, Spring Independent School District in unincorporated Harris County, Texas, students must have a voice that shapes their education.

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Working to make STEM education more accessible in the Spring School District with my Science Olympiad team by decreasing education barriers and advocating for better funding related to resources, classroom materials, and extracurriculars. I'm passionate about social change, advocating for underrepresented communities, cooking, and reading.

(Source: The Courier of Montgomery County

38.9 percent African American, 37.6 percent Hispanic, 18.6 percent white, 4.6 percent Asian and Pacific Islander, and 0.2 percent Native American. Spring Independent School District (SpringISD) is incredibly diverse in many aspects. With the majority of students being low-income and first-generation, special support is necessary to ensure that every child is successful in the long-run. However, due to the lack of student voice in the district, the diverse interests of students are not properly met—leaving some to fall into the cracks.

The voice of students is necessary for schools to understand the needs and interests of their students. School  curriculums, policies, and resource allocation require the thoughts and opinions of students. Without them, the schools are simply acting in their own interests: resulting in poor budgeting and the lack of necessary resources for students that truly need them. In the SpringISD district, the lack of student voice is shown in many ways, most importantly in teaching and mental health.

Currently, the district makes it difficult for teachers to teach and for students to learn. Elementary, middle and high school teachers are simply stressed and lack resources. From decades old textbooks to leaking ceilings, our educators are overwhelmed. There is simply not enough resource allocation for subjects, leaving students unprepared for each subject and for the future. The lack of proper books, leaving some students without textbooks for half of the semester, makes it difficult for some to even graduate high school. Yet, the grievances are not being heard nor are solutions being implemented.

With approximately 600 students per 1 counselor, it is almost near impossible for a student to reach out for help academically and personally. Because the majority of counselors are juggling multiple tasks, students sometimes lack the resources for mental health. As a result, students do not reach out to their teachers or counselors for help but have to rely on something else. This becomes a bigger problem for lower-income students since they do not have the time or resources to seek help from a professional outside of school walls. 

Standing in the shoes of a low-income student, imagine working an overnight shift to support your family. It’s a necessary task to keep food on the table but that takes away time from homework, extracurriculars, and studying for tests. This continues on for weeks. Soon, the student’s academic performance suffers. They didn’t receive the same honor roll this semester. They received almost failing grades. The student didn’t want this but didn’t have an option. They reach out to their counselors but they are simply busy juggling thousands of students. They reach out to their teachers but they are too busy figuring out how to deliver a lab without lab equipment. They reach out to their parents but they are struggling too. This is the problem facing the district because we don’t have a student voice in it. 

However, this isn’t to say that there isn’t a single student voice in the district. Luckily, initiatives are being created to combat the spread of racism across schools. Most importantly, they are relying on the help of students and parents to take part. According to SpringISD, a new community-based task force will be created to discuss recent events and how the district can change its ways to ensure students are learning in a safe environment.This is one of the few moments in which students have the chance to voice their thoughts and opinions to truly make a change in our schools. Yet what is needed more is the inclusion of student voices to solve problems across the district. Although it would be a challenging task, the district especially needs to focus on the mental health and educational problems that are impacting the lives of thousands of students. One solution would be designating a mental-health counselor to every school to serve the needs of the students instead of relying on already stressed counselors to juggle even more tasks. 

The success of the involvement of student voice to address racial problems shows how it can be further implemented in other areas. An increased student voice could result in improved student and parent relations with the district, better education, and the overall success of the students, enabling students to shape their education for the better.