Students placed second to politics
With finals quickly approaching, students at Yuba City High School are preparing to take on those last few days of the semester, which can make or break their entire year's worth of hard work.
This year, though, students are faced with another obstacle to hurdle: There are no scheduled minimum days. The normal finals schedule of three minimum days with two tests on each day has been exchanged for two full days with three two-hour tests on each day.
Students are outraged. "If they expect high test scores and better attendance, then they must stop suffocating us," said junior Keenan Lewis. "Minimum days not only put students in a more uplifting, positive mood, but also allow us to focus on the task at hand, like our finals."
Senior Ria Sager, who is enrolled in several advanced placement — or AP — courses, said, "Students with excessive loads need the break. AP students completely understand what they are getting themselves into when they sign up for classes, but that does not mean it is OK to force six hours of college-level testing upon them" per day.
On Nov. 14, teachers had an opportunity to revoke the minimum-day ban, but the vote did not pass. Several students attended the meeting.
Julie Alexander, a senior, said, "It will affect me when it affects which schools accept me and which schools don't due to my final grades."
I spoke at the meeting and reminded teachers that their fear of angry parents, referring to the schedule change, would be miniscule compared to the anger of a parent whose child does not get into their chosen university because of a B-plus instead of an A-minus grade.
A source said that it was a political game, that there was nothing students could do or say to affect the teachers' decision. As students, we should not have to apologize for being direct in our assertions; we are taught to speak against inequities, not be complacent with them.
Mandip Dosanjh, a senior, said, "The problem with the administration, faculty and students is that each is looking for their own interests. If they want to make decisions for the students, maybe they shouldn't try generalizing us all as one.
"Some of us have hard AP classes. Some of us have jobs. Some of us aren't so fortunate and have serious family and social issues at home," Mandip added. "Being so different, what makes them qualified to reach a verdict knowing nothing about the students?"
Mandip reveals a larger underlying problem. The issue is no longer about minimum days — it's about our rights as students. If we have a problem with our employers, we take it up with our union; if we have problem with education, where do we turn without looking ungrateful or naïve?
The student body proposed an adapted finals schedule, which stretches the six finals over three days. If it does not pass, perhaps we will have to listen to alumnus Ryan Nason, who said, "Just occupy YCHS. It seems to be doing something here at U.C. Davis."
As we wait for administrators to vote, we sit quietly for the first time in a week hoping that student success is still at the heart of the public education agenda, not politics, egos or budgets.
Greg Geraldo is a senior at Yuba City High School. His column appears every six weeks in Education.