This letter is concerning the recent debate regarding changing the Lake Oswego School District's start time. This letter will not address the specifics as to reasons why the Lake Oswego School District should change their start times. Instead the letter will address my perception as to how the administration at Lake Oswego High School and several key stakeholders alike are treating the advocating students as 'second-class' citizens.
Recently students in Political Action Seminar and who are members of the school hours planning team were going to hold a public forum to address the community's opinion concerning changing the starting time of the high school. However, the Lake Oswego High School administration postponed the meeting due to what they felt was 'premature action' on the part of the students.
Now the students had contacted numerous school board members, invited various people in the community, and scheduled to reserve the Lake Oswego High School library to host the community meeting. The scheduled meeting even appeared on the district calendar for a brief amount of time, before the Lake Oswego High School administration instructed the teacher of the advocating students to delay the meeting. To be fair to the administration, they had legitimate concerns about the fact that they were not informed directly about the nature of the meeting, and were caught off guard by such a broad based public discussion without any input or consent.
The teacher then asked the students to write letters of apology to all whom were willing to attend that the meeting, that it had been canceled.
The administration was upset that the students had not consulted them first and felt that this forum was an attack on concerns that the administration had to changing the high school's starting time, therefore forcing the administration to be on the defense. This however, is not true. These students are not looking to make an argument, or looking to make an attack on the administration (and neither is this letter), these students are genuinely concerned about an issue at our school. They were merely trying to give everyone an equal opportunity to express their various ideas and opinions on the topic. One wonders whether the administration perceived this formulated discussion as an attack, and therefore advocated no meeting. There should be no fear in expressing different opinions and ideas on a topic that could greatly change academics at Lake Oswego High School. The administration should be greatly interested in discussing this topic.
This is not the only time in which teenagers have been treated like 'second-class citizens.' Too often adults are taken more seriously - even if we are well informed and just as intelligent on a topic. Too many times members of the community have observed the Political Action Seminar curriculum as an outlet for 'whiney' students whom merely want to sue the city to get a later curfew, offer contraceptives to students, and attempt to change the starting time of high school. These views however are skewed. We have planning teams devoted to converting to b20 biodiesel, create rain barrels and help foster care in Oregon. These are all topics that students are passionate about and issues that pertain to students' everyday lives. Students should not be condemned for advocating for something they believe in. They should applaud these students for being politically active, and they should not be afraid to hold an open dialogue in which students and members of the community alike may propose ideas and opinions pertaining to said issues. If people attempted to take these students more seriously not only as teenagers, but as members of society it is very possible that people could be surprised at how many well thought out and organized ideas that Political Action Seminar students have proposed to benefit the society we live in.
Ryan Reece is a resident of Lake Oswego and a student at Lake Oswego High School.
Editor's note: Bruce Plato, principal at Lake Oswego High School, responds: 'I am disappointed that Ryan has the perception that the students on the PAS High School Start Time Planning Team have been treated as 'second class citizens.' I have had the opportunity to work closely with the members of this team and have appreciated their continued efforts to gather pertinent information from school officials, our transportation director, and other schools.
'Our Political Action Seminar program is an excellent avenue for our students to participate in government processes. Part of that education involves understanding and executing the appropriate steps in the process for seeking change. For this reason I suggested that their planned community forum be postponed until they had the opportunity to accomplish all that needed to take place before convening an event of this magnitude. Team members are continuing their work toward this event, and were invited to attend a work session with the school board this week and hear a presentation by Superintendent Korach that provided historical perspective on our current high school schedules.
'Our students are thoughtful and insightful, and are able to bring a fresh perspective to many issues surrounding our school, our community, and our nation. We take their efforts and activism seriously.'