Voters Should Consider Students’ Futures

With the latest town election taking place this past June 4, it has become difficult to ignore the increase of personal bias that fuels certain campaigns for town office. Even administrations such as school committee have not gone untouched by this issue, as more campaign for a position, taking with them the baggage of harmful prejudices. 

The objective of the school committee can be rendered into three specific categories: providing guidance to the superintendent, allocating school funds and making decisions on school policy  Those who are directly affected by policies and decisions are the ones in the schools, the children. Taking into consideration the more recent controversial issues that have been left up to the school committee’s deciding vote, such as the Rebel name change or any COVID-19 mask mandates, it is important to remember that it was all decided for the purpose of fostering a better, safer environment within the Walpole Public Schools (WPS). With these issues and debates on other hot topics of the moment, there have been expected disagreements among citizens and representatives of the town. School committee members are tasked with keeping the students’ and faculty’s best interest in mind, so running for these positions means being willing to do the same, and forgetting about personal politics. 

WPS is a host to a diverse population of students, from different backgrounds, beliefs, cultures and identities. And the issue coming across in the past couple of years is the fact that people who are interested in running for a committee position are not as dedicated to the entirety of the student population at Walpole High. Campaigning for a position that directly affects the students in the school should mean wanting to support them all too. 

In order to harbor acceptance within school systems, it has to be portrayed throughout town leadership. Students look up to the systems of their towns and who runs them and seeing an individual with power maintain certain views that do not align with being a respectful and accepting person can set the precedent that students do not have to act this way either. And past the bad example that is set, for a student to look to their leadership and feel as if they are not being positively supported along with their peers can lead to feelings of estrangement. No student should have to look up to their town leadership and think that their best interest as a student is not being put first, nor should any student’s identity stand in the way of their safety and comfort in their environment. 

The precedent that this type of candidacy sends to other members of the town, to students and to parents, is unacceptable. No student should have to worry about whether or not school policy will accept them and create a welcoming environment within a place where they spend multiple hours a day in. No personal prejudices nor religious beliefs should come into concern when considering a position that focuses on the well-being of children in schools. Over the past few years, the School Committee has done a great job of attempting to hear out every side of whichever debate is taking place at the moment, and using this information along with student feedback as well as facts and statistics to make informed decisions regarding the students and faculty of WPS. It is important that things stay this way because committees like these are what students look up to, which makes it all the more necessary for them to lead by example.