Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 | 2 a.m.
Editor’s note: About 1,000 students from high schools throughout Southern Nevada participated in the 61st annual Sun Youth Forum on Nov. 8. The students were divided into groups to discuss a variety of topics. A representative was chosen from each group to write a column about the students’ findings. This essay addresses the issues covered by the School Days group.
I was fortunate to be seated among an astonishing group of young scholars with a passion for our community, specifically our education system.
The topics we discussed included guns in the classroom, sexual education and whether students who retake classes using the Apex Learning online system should receive the same diploma as students who passed courses the first time. Our discussions were enlightening.
Opinions clashed on whether to allow teachers to carry guns in the classroom. While some participants felt it had the potential to provide additional protection, others raised concerns that teachers and staff might not be properly trained. The subject brought out some fire within students, but we came to the agreement that if administrators received the proper training, as well as a permit and approval from the school board, they should be able to carry a concealed weapon on campus. However, we felt students should not be allowed to know who has a weapon and who does not for safety purposes.
Moving on to sexual education, there was general agreement that the district’s courses are inadequate. Points made included the fact that teachers (and some parents) do not talk about subjects or answer certain questions because it makes them uncomfortable, completely disregarding how that might make the student feel. Students believe that sex-ed classes should not only be targeted toward traditional heterosexual relationships but also toward members of the LGBT community on how to have safe sex with their partner. The general consensus was, improvements and adjustments are needed because our students are suffering.
On Apex Learning, our initial discussion led us to a more pre-eminent point: how the tendency for students to measure their self-worth through their grades had helped give rise to the nationwide cheating epidemic. The education system needs to stop putting so much emphasis on these letters and more emphasis on actual learning. Students today learn to memorize for a short time just so they can pass an upcoming test and maintain their grade so they don’t feel like a bad person. We came to the conclusion that students should be able to take and retake a class as many times as they want until they receive the grade they long for.
Isabella Del Castillo is a junior at Desert Oasis High School.