“Districts and States Give Students a Seat at the Boardroom Table” prompted a response from an Education Next reader, J.H. Snider:
To the Editor:
Regarding Districts and States Give Students a Seat at the Boardroom Table, Caroline Hendrie overlooks the politics of the student member of the board position. At least in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, where I live and the SMOB has full voting rights, it survives and thrives because the school staff have effective veto over the selection of the SMOB. And then, after a SMOB is selected, they can easily intimidate the SMOB because they control the SMOB’s success in school. I’d suggest that a better way to empower students would be to lower the voting age to 16 for school board (but not other) elections. Compared to older community members, high school students do indeed often have better knowledge of and more of a stake in their local public school system. Sadly, where the staff unions in my district (and their state legislature champions) will fight to the death to keep the SMOB position because it is their most reliable vote on the Board of Education, I doubt they would even lift a finger to empower students in a way that doesn’t facilitate their corrupt control over student representation.
Severna Park, Maryland