by Cass Bouse-Eaton
I’m a senior at ThunderRidge High School, on the brink of voting although unfortunately I cannot vote in this election, though many of my friends have. Us students hear a lot about what’s best for us, but very few people actually ask us what we think, though we’re the ones spending time in the classrooms with dissatisfied teachers and awful reforms. Granted, I may not know as much about the outside facts of this election, but I can speak to what I’ve seen from the inside. I’m an International Baccalaureate student who is top of my class, and I’ve been taught by many amazing teachers over the years. My sister is a freshman at Rock Canyon, and I fear what her next four years are going to look like. I’m happy to be graduating out of our district this year. But here is what I’ve seen.
First of all, Mr. White was a teacher at my school. I never had him personally but he was one of those “famous” types. Everyone wanted to have his class. He was highly respected, many students loved him and his teaching, and he, like many teachers, is truly missed this year. Personally, my Spanish teacher last year had to be one of my favorite teachers ever. I hate Spanish, but Ms. Robinson made it fun while we learned and I never dreaded going to her class. She teaches in Denver Public Schools this year and all of her IB kids, who hoped that we would have her again this year to prepare us for our international exams, are truly sorry she is not here. Our new teacher is very nice, but she lacks experience as she has taught for less than five years, has never taught an IB class before, and has somehow ended up teaching the highest level Spanish class in the school. This is not her fault, but so many of our teachers are new and inexperienced. As an IB student who takes on a challenging, unique curriculum and takes year end tests that define whether we get our IB diploma or not, it’s scary for our inexperience to be matched with a teachers. Ms. Robinson left because of the pay cuts, the cracking down on teachers that is happening in the district. Don’t be fooled. We are losing good teachers, and many more would leave if they could get a better job. Teachers should be able to focus on kids, not struggling to make their living while being oppressed.
Also, we appreciate that teachers who have moved out of the district continue to fight. When they moved they left behind students who adored them, colleagues who they wish the best for, and a school district they dedicated their lives to. Why wouldn’t they want things to change, even if it doesn’t directly affect them?
As for schedules, the eight period schedule is a mess. The block schedule is necessary so that kids get enough time in their classrooms, as days with all eight periods mean only having 45 minute classes. This is not enough to learn. The block is what is currently saving things, but it is forced by the eight period schedule.
I am an extremely lucky student taking the highest level math class the school offers on campus. I am one of two students in my class and I LOVE it. The one-on-one teaching style makes me feel special, connected, and like the class can go at my own speed. Isn’t that the ideal? How can teachers do this if they teach six classes with thirty students in each class? I want my teachers to be able to focus on teaching, not on numbers.
Now I can already hear what some pro-reform people will say. You’re only 17! How can you possibly know anything? I know because it’s my life. I spend 35 hours at school a week, and I’ve been in the district since first grade. I probably know what’s going on in a students life better than any parent or district admin. This election SHOULD be about the teachers as well as the students. The teachers are the people that inspire us, who make coming to school and learning fun rather than a bummer. As a student, I can honestly say these reforms aren’t working. We’re losing class time. We’re losing amazing teachers. And I, nor my friends, classmates, or fellow Grizzlies are stocks, bonds, or interests. We are not a business product. We are young men and women who deserve to be educated as well as possible and that is not happening. It’s time to look up and realize this. Vote Hodges, Keim, Chase, and Scholting. Vote for the kids. Vote for our future. Thank you.