To the editor:
What if the opinions of students in Barrington were actually valued?
They would be able to make positive change in their school and environment. They would be treated with equal respect as adults, and would be seen as intelligent, educated young adults; not silly or rebellious teenagers. What if student voice had a real and influential impact on the decisions of policymakers, legislators, teachers, and adults in general?
Unfortunately, in the town of Barrington, this is just a fantasy. For the past few years, this town has fought passionately against a change in the school start times of the town's schools. Students, like myself, have specifically been the most vocal. We have tried to make our voices heard. And although we have the support of a vast majority of the town, we are being ignored.
We live in a country where policy is shaped by the views of the majority, and never the minority. And although various student polls, appearances at school committee meetings, and even a show of hands at these meetings have shown that the majority do not want this change, it is still going through. Why?
The only plausible explanation is that the school committee, in fact, does not care what we think about this issue. Although that sounds harsh, it is true. The voice of the students is being ignored, and that is wrong. Teachers and administrators I have spoken to agree that student voice should be listened to just as much as that of adults.
I am a member of the group Students Against Start Times (SAST), the group that staged a protest outside of the high school on Oct. 14. On Nov. 3, we brought a group of students to the school committee meeting where we, along with many other community members, spoke for over an hour against the start time change. SAST worked hard to ensure that our voices were heard. But now, it is the school committee’s turn to listen.
The school committee is not giving students enough credit. We are intelligent, educated young adults. We will no longer be cast aside as silly or rebellious. We cannot be ignored, because our voices and opinions mean just as much as everyone else's. We know what is best for us, and we are not naive. We are fighting against something we know is not be good for us.
It is not the school committee’s sports teams that are being affected. It is not the school committee whose rides to school will be affected. It is not the school committee’s jobs that are getting affected. It is not the school committee’s lives that are being affected.
It's time for the school committee to open their ears and listen. It is time for the people to fight even harder against this unnecessary change, and it is important that the voters do not allow this to pass in next year’s budget. Thank you.