March 23, 2015

Only We Can Provide the True Insider Perspective

By Jamie Smith

When I was a freshman, I went to my first student voice team meeting. I didn’t know what it was, or why we were there, or really anything about what we were doing. But as the meeting went on and we started discussing education policy issues—like common core and teacher evaluation- I found myself falling easily into discussions about what effect the new standards were having and all the reasons in-class teacher evaluations may or may not be effective.

It was then I realized that I wanted to help our education system. I wanted to have my input heard, and I wanted someone to take what I had to say and use it to improve our schools.

I realized in those moments the most genuine, raw idea behind student voice. We know our schools backwards and forwards. We know what hinders us from reaching our full potential in the classroom. And what’s more, we are the only people who know these things.

Yes, adults can certainly identify problems and generate solutions for these problems, but only we, the students, can provide the true insider perspective on the ins and outs of our education system.

And we are capable. Our presence in itself proves that we have the ability to take charge of our own education, decide what needs fixing for a better learning environment, and do everything in our power to fix it.

Above all, we care. We care enough to miss a day of our education in the hopes we will improve it in the long run. We care enough to stand on these steps, exercising our sacred right to rally for what we believe is good and necessary for our education. We care because we know that student voice is the only way our learning will be as effective as it can possibly be.

And that is why we ask you to pass House Bill 236. A voice in the superintendent selection process is a small step, but a strong and essential one, towards our goal of letting our voices be heard loud and clear throughout our lives as students. A superintendent serves with the goal of helping students succeed, and who knows better what students need than students themselves? Student input and engagement is one of the most powerful ways to improve our education. That is why I, Jamie Smith, stand with students.

These remarks were deliverd at the Stand With Students Rally organized by the Student Voice Team on the steps of the capitol in Frankfort on March 23, 2015. The Rally called for the passage of House Bill 236, which would add student voting members to superintendent screening committees.

Jamie Smith

Jamie Smith

Jamie is a Yoda Corps Advisor and co-founder of KSVT. She is a former member and was previously the Chair of the Postsecondary Committee. Jamie graduated from Henry Clay High School in 2016 and Brown University in 2020.