Giving students a voice – and a vote

In teacher contract negotiations, everyone is represented. Teachers have the President of the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA); the school administration has the Superintendent of the Department of Education (DOE) and the Chairman of the Board of Education (BOE); the State of Hawaii has the governor.

But who represents the students?

We need to give students a voice and a vote in employment contract negotiations. We need an elected student advocate (maybe an actual high school student) who will put the needs of the students first.

Why not ask look for a student advocate who is enrolled in a public Hawaii high school or charter school, between the ages of 16 and 19? Someone who is passionate about school. Someone who is not afraid to remind people that the contracts are really about the students.

I don’t know if we could find a passionate, fearless advocate. I don’t know how we could run a student election across the state. Maybe it could be done through KidsVotingHawaii.org. I don’t know how we could pay for it. Maybe we need a student council instead, or an appointed advocate.

But I do know that right now students are powerless. When the State wants to save money and the teachers want better salaries and benefits, the students are caught in the middle.

Do you think that students deserve to be part of contract negotiations? How can we give students more control over their education?

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