If Change is Gonna Come, Students' Rights Need To Be Honored
Last year, my freshman year, I really struggled. I was criticized, criminalized, and judged by teachers. I got kicked out of class for asking for a pencil. I had a teacher tell me that I was “stupid” and that I “wasn’t going to get anywhere in life.”
I got put into in-house and just sat there all day and didn’t learn anything at all. In-house is like detention. You are basically sitting in a room all day quietly -- no phones, no talking, and most importantly, no education. I was accused by administrators of things I didn’t do. I tried reporting a teacher last year that had no respect for me and cussed at me, and they said they couldn’t do anything about it. And it wasn’t just me. I witnessed students get arrested and harassed by the cops we have on campus. We have about 20 cameras on campus, so we are basically being watched on a regular basis.
To be watched all the time makes us feel like criminals, not students. Students here on campus get judged by their race, how they look, and how they dress. But the truth is none of these people know our backgrounds or who we are. Everyday on this campus I see students being expelled. I see students in the office picked up by the TABS and being put into in-house, rather than the school putting effort into keeping them in the classroom. But regardless of how we are treated, our backgrounds or what school we go to – we as students have rights. And while some teachers and administrators wouldn’t want us to know our rights, there are some teachers who want us to express them. And really, if administrators want students to succeed, they should also want our rights to be respected. I made a list of students’ rights based on all the things I have seen students have to face in school.
Really, students have more power than we know, and together even more power than a judgmental teacher. We can change the behavior of teachers and administrators who may be abusing their power and unfairly criticizing students. Ultimately, every student on this campus and in every school should have an education. And not just any education, but a successful, meaningful one. Students should know our rights so we can protect ourselves, our education, and our futures. If Core is going to work, it’s going to take students. teachers, and administrators all working together towards its goals. That only happens if all of our voices and rights are respected. Here is my list of a Students’ Bill Of Rights...
STUDENT BILL OF RIGHTS
1. We have the right to freedom of speech and freedom to express ourselves without being criticized.
For too long we have not been allowed to speak for what we believe in or speak what’s in our minds and be heard.
2. We have the right to be ourselves without feeling intimidated by the students, teachers, or administrators.
We need to feel a sense of belonging in school and don’t need to be harassed by teachers, students, or administrators for expressing ourselves, whether it’s with our language, clothing style, or heritage.
3. We have the right to feel safe on campus.
Safety is more than cops and cameras. It starts with relationships and caring about all young people’s well-being.
4. We have the right to learn and to receive help when we do not understand something.
It’s essential we are given an engaging education and receive the help we need when we are struggling.
5. We have the right to know our grades and a right to have a conversation with our teachers when our grades are struggling.
We need to know how we are progressing in school and what to fix and to communicate with our teachers on what we need to be successful.
6. We have the right to eat good and healthy food from the school’s cafeteria.
Students can’t be expected to learn when food on campus is nasty, unhealthy, and sometimes even expired.
7. We have the right to report teachers that do not teach or care for their students.
When a teacher abuses their power, we should be able to report those teachers to administrators or another body which can handle these problems.
8. We have the right to stand up for our rights as a group without reprisals from teachers and administrators.
Our voices have gone unheard for too long. We have a right to speak for ourselves without being penalized for voicing our concerns.
9. We have the human right to be respected by students, teachers, and administrators.
Respect is demanded from us everyday. It’s time that respect is given back to us by administrators and staff.
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