We are the students and we want our voices heard!

After a position opened on the Boise School District Board of Trustees an outspoken student, Lizzy Duke-Moe, championed the idea of bringing students to the conversation of education. As the student body president of Boise High School, 18-year-old Duke-Moe has highlighted the conversation about student involvement in policy making here in Idaho. 

She was running on a platform focused on “proximity” as students are the “stakeholder in this system, but we aren’t being heard.”

Unfortunately, her application did not make it into the set of finalists announced on Tuesday, Nov. 16. However, this does not mean her fight is over, “I was obviously disappointed, but now I realize how much more work has to be done.” 

The board has expressed sentiments to create a student-led committee that will present a student perspective. Duke-Moe is in favor of this new proposal as it would rectify the issues of the existing system which “is like a dance… it is fairly superficial.” She is hopeful as “the board does want to hear more from students”, but she is uncertain how committed its members are to such a drastic change. The creation of a student committee or another similar solution would “be such a great opportunity to mentor students, this is what the real world is like.” 

The struggle for a say will continue, “it is going to take a lot of effort on the part of many more students to make sure our ideas are represented.” 

Her platform for more student involvement in the district board is not the first, nor will it be the last. Duke-Moe’s rejection points to a graver underlying problem within the conversation around education, here in Idaho and around our nation. There appears to be a disconnect between the desire for students to voice opinions about education and the mediums for their concerns to be voiced. There exist two separate worlds, that of the courthouse and that of the classroom. Our schools do little to encourage students to be outspoken when faced with laws, practices, and academic norms that are detrimental. Duke-Moe represented an opportunity for a change in this reality. 

As a fellow student, I was disheartened to discover she did not make it as a finalist. It confirmed a weary suspicion I- and many of my peers- carry: that those in the position to make change see no value in the voice of students. The very notion Duke-Moe sought to change has once again demonstrated that the ideas of Idaho students- regardless of age, gender, position, or intention- are being ignored. “Their motto is creating ‘leaders for the future of tomorrow’, but they don’t give the opportunity to students.”

Unless we reexamine the role public discussion has within our schools the fight for student voice will continue. Unless the gap between policymakers, educators, and students is bridged, we will continue to see the detriment of this divide. If Idaho is to champion the next generation of leaders, it must first allow itself to hear their ideas: to be led by its youth in some capacity. 

“We are the students and we want our voices heard!”

Owen Curtin

About Owen Curtin

Owen Curtin is a senior at Bishop Kelly High School in Boise.

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