When crafting educational policies, how important is student voice?
If I were to answer this question from just hearing how educational policy makers today go about making policies, I would say student voice isn’t important as long as you have the students’ best interests in mind. I would say this because most of the people we have spoken with in policy do not have direct student input.
How is it possible though to have students’ best interests in mind if you don’t hear from them what is important? When we spoke with Candi from Project VOYCE, she really pushed the importance of student voice and student engagement in making important changes in educational policy. So far though, I have been disappointed to find that student input in educational policy is not common.
We met with former DPS board member Landri Taylor and when asked about student voice on the school board, his response was that much of the board is scared of student voice. Today we met with Highline Academy and Independence Institute and they all had similar responses – they value students and have their best interests in mind but they don’t actually talk with students to get their input on policy matters. I am not suggesting boards are bad if they do not have direct student involvement, I am merely wondering how they do it? Is student voice not valued?
In general I believe voice and the freedom to speak up is very important. Teacher voice. Student voice. Parent voice. It is one thing if students are not talked to when policies are being made but I think it is even more detrimental if teachers are not talked to. What if teachers are told their voice isn’t important? One teacher we spoke with from another school said that she was told directly by her principle to not speak out and instead just go along with what she was supposed to do. She was urged not to question things. In sum, she was being told her voice wasn’t important. As for parent voice, they seem to have the most! Parents are often the ones on school boards deciding many aspects of their students’ education. We need to find a way to bring all these voices together because once we do that, I think educational policy will have major changes.
HCU CR 2/22/16