Categorized | Opinion/Editorial

Pros and Cons of giving the student board member a vote

The Student Board Member is the student body’s representative on the Board of Education. Though the member attends every public meeting, s/he is not privy to closed session information, which includes student disciplinary action and pending litigation. The member is given a preferential vote, in which s/he can voice support or opposition to an agenda item before the five community elected board members decide the matter.

Pro

Opinion Editor Vivian Geilim

The Student Board Member is a very important position held in the Board of Education. The Student Board Member is meant to advocate for students and voice the ideas and opinions of the student body. This is what makes the board connected to the students of our schools and it is why the Student Board Member’s vote should count in the Board’s final decision.

Having the Student Board Member’s vote be merely honorary and ceremonial defeats the value of the position. The regulations and policies that are voted for by the five community elected board members directly influence students. But we must ask ourselves, do the board members really know what the students want? What information would they obtain without the fresh and knowledgeable mind of the Student Board Member? By having The Student Board Member vote count, not only is the Board of Education maintaining diversity in their decision making, but this also makes the student’s voice count for something worth more than just commentary. With this crucial position on the team of the Board of Education, they have a direct aid in understanding what is occurring through the halls of the schools.

Although it is the Student Board Member’s duty to share information on the students and to voice the thoughts of his peers, what is the point if he/she doesn’t have a voice in the voting process? Having the Student Board Member’s vote be counted would increase the legitimacy of the position and have the student be more engaged in the problems he/she is voting for. But this doesn’t only count for his/her opinion. It can count as all the opinions of all the students. Having his/her vote count opens a door to have a legitimate and direct representative for the entire student body.

Someone who runs for the position is evidently of a mature mindset. Although senior year is notorious for its rigorous schedule and overbearing college applications, a student who holds the position of a board member knows what s/he is in for. They know that they must be able to balance school activities and extracurriculars as well as holding a lucid mind during board discussions. It is also a known factor that to become Student Board Member, the student running for the position must be an active member of ASB. This variable not only makes the student board member connected to student government, but also makes him/her a knowledgeable candidate for the position.

The Board of Education helps obtain equanimity in our district and, most importantly, the schools. But in order to do so efficiently, a student voice should be present of these votes. The student board member have a vote and direct say in the discussion of the board legitimizes the student voice as well as their position on the board.

Con

News Editor Ben Dahan

Students have the most stake in their school and district: they are the ones receiving the education, most affected by rules and decisions and with the most to lose or gain. This is why it is so important for the school board to have a Student Board Member, someone who can provide a student’s perspective as well as the students’ perspective. Yet this position should only inform and influence, not decide, district policy.

As it is now, the student board member votes on measures along with the five community-elected board members, but that vote is purely honorary and ceremonial. It is meant to voice support or opposition to a measure, something that theoretically is taken into consideration by the five members whose votes decide the matter. Whether or not that is the case in practice is another matter — one certainly worth examining — but not one that should be solved by giving a teenager power that he or she may not be prepared to wield properly.

Teenagers are notoriously impulsive, irritable and irresponsible. While those who would be elected would likely be among the most mature of their peers, we can never be sure that the student will devote the time necessary to be properly informed or fully grasp the implications of their decisions. Additional problems arise because the student is a senior: they will be distracted by college applications and their future prospects, and will not be around long enough to face the consequences of their decisions.

Besides, there are more tenable and practical ways to ensure the student voice is heard than giving the student board member voting privileges. An active and forceful student representative is able to interject the student interest and perspective regardless of a vote. Students are able to attend meetings and request a time allotment to address the board directly. This voice can be amplified if students show up en masse to voice support or opposition in a show of force. Petitions can be distributed, following school procedure, and signed to show the board members the wishes of the community they are meant to represent.

If board members refuse to be persuaded by the student perspective, they are still ultimately beholden to the voters, especially the students’ parents and families. If they are deemed to be ignoring the students they are elected to serve, they will face their judgement at the ballot box.

It is neither necessary nor appropriate for a student to hold such power over their fellow members of the board, the students they represent or the future of the district they will soon be leaving.

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