Should educators influence student elections?

How much influence should educators have in student elections? They need to be part of the process, but shouldn’t the students ultimately decide who wins?

My son ran for office last year, and successfully secured a position as his class vice president. Because of his position, he was able to be a part of student council, plan school activities, help fundraise, encourage positivity at the school, and volunteer around the community. He sacrificed time, after school and on the weekends, to be a part of student council. He learned leadership and responsibility. He enjoyed the experience and decided to run for office again.

He had to go through the same strict requirements as last year, to determine if he was eligible to run for student council:

  • Be in good standing with the school administration.
  • Have at least a 3.0 GPA, with no failing grades the semester before.
  • Be enrolled in 6 credits per semester.
  • Be able to take the Student Leadership Class the following year.
  • Understand and agree to devote a significant amount of time outside of the class (weekends, lunch time and over the summer).

Once he met all of the above requirements, he filled out the application packet (requiring 50 student signatures, along with teacher and administration recommendations), campaigned for the position (with approved posters and flyers), and then waited for the students to vote.

This year he lost. My son was upset, not because he lost, but because the teachers and administrators had the ability to influence the outcome. The high school counts the student votes, but it also talleys the recommendations from the administrators.The recommendations are worth up to a total of 250 points. If the student class has roughly 400 students voting, then 250 possible recommendation points can impact the elections.

I can’t understand why the teachers or administrators would need to have any sway in the outcome of the student elections. The educators thoroughly vet the applicants prior to the election. If a student is not fit for the position on student council, then the educators can eliminate that student prior to the election.

Just to make sure I understood this process correctly, I emailed the principal and the student council teacher.

She informed of the incredible responsibilities of the elected officials and their need for teacher and administrator recommendations. I asked her if the recommendation points ever affected the election. She told me that only “in rare occasions do the teacher recommendations have any influence on the results of the candidate process.” I couldn’t verify the vote count and the recommendation numbers, due to student privacy. She also said, “teacher recommendation scores have been part of the Student Council application process since its inception at Eagle High School.”

It’s good that the students have to go through this rigorous process before they can be elected to student council. It is a big responsibility and it requires dedicated students. I question the need for recommendation “scores” that are used as part of finalizing the outcome of the elections. I question the ‘this is how we have always done it’ argument. Maybe it’s time to change.

How does your school elect its student council members?

Melanie Flake

Melanie Flake

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