STUDENT FORUM - Lance Robson

01/26/05

Yesterday afternoon Student Government Representatives from High Schools across Hillsborough County attended the School Boards Annual Student Forum.

Every year the Hillsborough County School Board hosts a student forum to give student government representitives the chance to voice opinions, concerns and suggestions about issues that affect them and the students they represent. This year 23 schools were represented, and their list of concerns was long. The range of issues raised spanned the gamut: the school dress code, cell phone use, mandatory student IDs, overcorwding, racism, fcat assistance, and many more.

But one the most important question of the day was asked by Shaila Gainer from Middleton High School. It is a question and suggestion so amazingly simple, one that many adults could benefit from...
." would it be possible to have a class that teaches us about credit, insurance, 401ks, and voting?"

It was met with great approval, both from the council and the students.

The first of the hot button issues to be raised concerned the Council's opinion of Evolution being the prime explaination for the origin of life on Earth. Two of the council memebers addressed this issue, both with minced words. Jennifer Faliero went first -

i think if we teach that one we should also teach creationism..."

Council Chair Candy Olsen followed Mrs Faliero's resonse in more measured fashion.

...the board is not united on the theory of evolution... but science largely backs the theory..."

A number of students raised concerns about FCAT testing and why the No Child left behind act requires that schools with poor scores receive less money than schools with higher scores. Chairwoman Olsen briefly expalined how the state initiiative is at odds with the federal one.

"we have two different grading systems... that offers more oppurtunites for failure than success..."

She went onto offer an example of just how counterproductive the No child left Behind act can be in its current incarnation; one which operates in spite of individual states current education initiatives..

"imagine your a new student that has recently arrived from a foreign country... you have one year to become a literate adult under NCLB... "

It's no secret that No Child left behind has been largely underfunded, but money is a looming issue for the Schoold Board of Hillsobrough County. Chairwoman Olsen stated that the Board is already 8 million dollars in the hole for 2005, and that is before putting through any teacher raises which were previously scheduled. The board emphasized that they have the students best interests at heart, but it is clear that they are having serious problems keeping up with the growth of the county, the country , and the students they serve with the current funding situation.
In the council's own words it's not only up to them what happens with regards to Education issues... it is also up to the students and their communities.. and they urged everyone to get involved.

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