Blair junior Amanda Lee has always had a strong interest in politics and particularly education. In addition, Lee has wanted to become more active in the community. "I was really looking this year to be more involved in the policy making decisions," she says, adding that she wished to see more communications with students. These interests and concerns led Lee to pursue a position as Student Member of the Board (SMOB).
Lee describes her campaign experience so far as "fulfilling and eye-opening." "Students really can have an impact on our school system," she has concluded. After attending the nominating convention, perfecting her concluding statement for the candidate debate against incumbent Magruder High School junior Sagar Sanghvi and taping the debate, Lee has been contacting schools to schedule speaking events, where she plans to get student input on issues and talk about her ideas.
Lee's platform includes five issues:
1. The grading policy. The policy, which was proposed in light of students' performance on standardized tests, includes provisions that dictate that students will be graded on achievement only, and that a separate section on the report card will show a student's work ethic. Lee sees the policy as a "really controversial and current topic for students," and while she understands the "perspective and spirit" with which the policy was created, she disagrees with the policy and believes that its implementation may have potentially harmful effects for the students.
2. GPA requirements for after school activities. Lee proposes a program that will allow students with under a 2.0 GPA to participate in after school activities with certain conditions. "Allowing these students to be part of a positive peer pressure environment after school can be potentially helpful to the students," Lee asserts. "I just think that shutting them out of after school activities is not the way to go."
3. Communications with students. Lee believes that there is not enough communications between the decision-makers and the students. She vows to establish better means of communications with students next year by working with school newspapers across the county, writing and distributing letters similar to that of the superintendent and introducing a mid-year video in classrooms to inform the students. "There is just not enough communications between the student member of the board and the student body," Lee maintains, adding that it is not often that students hear back from the SMOB after the election. Lee believes that there are two parts to the Student Member of the Board's job. The first is representing the student voice on the Board of Education, but at the same time, "the other part of [the] job is to represent the board of education's voice to the students," Lee says. "That's something that will be an extremely high priority for me next year."
4. The controversy surrounding vending machines. Lee does not support turning off vending machines at certain times during the day and feels that the issue goes deeper than simply being about student choice. "I don't agree with the board's decision to promote healthy [habits] just by turning off the vending machine at certain times," she asserts, adding that in many schools, such as Blair, vending machine revenue are put to good use. "I feel like the board isn't thinking about the issue in the right way," she states. Lee supports introducing healthier options not only vending machines but also school cafeterias, but she feels that turning off the vending machines during the day alienates the students. "There are just so many ways of solving these problems," Lee says. "Alienating [students] is not the way to go."
5. Better placement for students. Lee has proposed that students who can pass the final on the first day of class be allowed to place out of the class, a stance that she believes has been misinterpreted by students from the wording on her platform. "I think kids are thinking I just want people to skip grades," Lee states, adding that she is actually focusing more on better placement for students, who would be wasting their time in a class where they already know the material. "If they can truly demonstrate that they can have mastered the material, then they should move on," she maintains. Lee says that the policy would be especially applicable in the more objective subjects such as math.
Katherine Zhang. Katherine Zhang likes French baguettes, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, bookmarks, fresh boxes of rosin, Brad Meltzer novels, and of course, "JAG." In her free time, Katherine enjoys knitting, playing the violin, and reading - especially legal thrillers and books about people in faraway places and long-ago times. … More »