by Jonathan Bergman
In President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address on Jan. 12, he warned citizens that giving into the idea that they don’t have the ability to change the political system will “forsake a better future.”
Here at WHS, many students are giving in to cynicism. Some believe they’re powerless to change the government to make it beneficial to them. This despair leads most to opt to change lives in the short term with charitable activities. This has not made us the student body that we need to be: one that engages in government affairs. And I think we can do better.
Realistically, it’s not up to high school students to solve every issue our nation faces. However, it is up to us to solve the issues that face our towns and schools. I’ve filmed the Board of Education meetings since September 2014 and I’ve heard plenty of issues discussed that directly affect the student body.
Only on one occasion have I seen students attend a BOE meeting to voice their concerns about issues affecting our schools. Last year, when students voiced their support for a temporary lighting program at Kehler Stadium at a BOE meeting, the Board approved the lighting. Student voices are heard when they speak up. It’s not hopeless.
Despite the Kehler success, student attendance at the meetings didn’t improve. When the PARCC tests came along, many students opposed the new tests. However, the Board only heard from mothers and teachers rather than the students whom the tests directly affect. Even if the PARCC tests were unavoidable in the end, I think that the students who failed to voice their opinions on the tests to policy makers have no right to complain.
The point is: What happens in this world is up to you. You can make changes if you try.
The president suggested that the people who are elected don’t care if their constituents have low political efficacy. Regardless of if you’re a Democrat, Republican or independent, if you have a problem with that, it’s up to you to fix it.