School Committee elections lack student voices because they lack student votes – and shouldn’t
Students should be allowed to vote in the School Committee election, because they have the most relevant perspective of how to improve the school system: As students of the school we know what is actually going on, and we know what really needs to be fixed.
The results of a School Committee election can affect students’ experiences in school directly, because the people who sit on the committee have authority and power to make decisions for all students. They decide the length of the school day, the quality of school lunches, Covid-19 protocols and other district policies that have a direct impact on students’ everyday lives.
Students should be able to trust the people who make these key decisions. They should feel listened to and supported by members of the committee. But if this were a real democracy, students would have a voice too.
Currently, you can vote for School Committee candidates only if you are 18 or older, which includes even adult voters who are not in the school system and unlikely to be able to relate to the pressing needs of students. As a result, these adults don’t represent students in their votes. If students could vote, they would be able to decide who has decision-making power and influence over the policies that directly affect them.
Lowering the voting age for the School Committee to 12, when kids are mature enough to express their views on the world, would help children practice voting and establish it as a habit. It could aid low voting turnout rates as well. If you are going to say everyone has a voice, that means students have a voice. Democracy would be in ruins if we didn’t have voting, so why limit it?
Aya Riman and Anthony Dumerant, Cambridge Rindge and Latin School