Modify School Policies To Reflect The Modern Age
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Windemere High School... The first high school to be built in our OCPS community in quite some time. It is High Tech and the first school of its kind to be completely digital. However, its policies are still “old school” varying from our dress code to grading system-which all needs to be changed. With help from our student body, we can ensure that change is afforded to us by petitioning the school. With this petition, a plan ensuring that our school is both completing its requirements as a K-12 Public Education Institution and is accommodating to all students regardless of Gender, Race, and economic status, will be set forth.
Dress Code, Sex Code. Dress Code was originally designed to ensure that no student would wear anything that could possibly distract their peers and therefore deprive them of their educational rights. Dress code went from something that would prevent distractions, to a systematic deprivation of education. Currently, our dress code policies are sexist and punish females at an exponentially disproportionate rate than that of males. The excuse that dress code is for our safety is simply barbarous. It was only after the Columbine event that dress code implemented new policies to prevent students from hiding weapons in their clothing. However, this soon changed to then limit student’s ability to express themselves and increase body positivity. One of the leading excuses given for enforcing these new dress codes primarily on young women was that it was a distraction for their male counterparts. If a woman happened to be wearing leggings without a T-shirt that covered their groin area, she would be punished because of it. So, because a man can’t control himself around the opposite sex, a woman is then publicly humiliated. She is called out in class for something that the majority of people there wouldn’t have noticed; they are then deprived of their education by being sent to PASS. Enforced by teachers and administrators, these dress code infractions, like the example given above, can trigger either a warning or PASS( Positive Alternative to Student Suspension, originally known as ISS). PASS is a form of punishment in which the student who has been referred, must attend school and proceed to a designated classroom. The room is filled with other students who committed infractions that would also require PASS. It is reserved for those who committed infractions with anything from dress code violations to fighting. This means that students which may have committed the offense of simply wearing a spaghetti top will encounter an individual who committed a violent act at school. Students are also required to sit in silence, and complete school work the whole day. Talking during this time, at any time, will result in an extra day. In PASS, students are unable to access teachers for questions or receive instructional information. They’re also deprived of their ability to converse with other peers, under the no-talking rule. For students with disabilities such as ADHD or ADD, this can be extremely hard. They will be more likely to spend more time in PASS because they will talk to a peer resulting in further disciplinary action(PASS). As these students are kept in isolation and in silence for the duration of the entire day, it can cause depression and anxiety to materialize. Better accommodate students must be made, yet still, ensure a secure and safe education. We believe that students across the school should vote on which policies to modify via an online poll.
No Hats. No Hoodies. No Expression. The current rules prohibit students from wearing hats or hoodies anywhere on the school campus. This means that the one kid that is always bullied for his looks, and normally wears a jacket so he is not subjected to the onslaught of destructive and detrimental criticism of his peers, is not allowed to shield himself all because it is a "distraction". Hats were originally banned because in the generations before us, wearing a hat was seen as a sign of disrespect and would draw the attention of teachers and students alike. This is simply not the case in today's laid-back progressive society. Just like t-shirts, hats are a form of expression whether that expression is political, social, or religious. Banning them is unlawful and if taken to the supreme court today, I am confident that it will be ruled in the same manner as Tinker vs Des Moines-which states that if students aren't posing a distraction to their peers they are able to express themselves. The solution to this issue will be to allow hats and hoodies as long as they don't promote violence or directly promote drug use.
No Headphones. No Creativity. Headphones should be able to be used outside of class and in between classes. They minimize distractions for students and allow students to indulge in different cultures through music. Music also alleviates the anxiety that a student can acquire from a stressful day at school. It allows students to disconnect from society and its expectations which can cause students to have depression. Allowing students to use headphones gives the student an excuse to ignore a bully without facing social repercussions. The headphone policy should immediately be abolished.
Bullying. The zero-tolerance approach to bullying hurts students that are victims of bullying the most. It allows bullies to play the victim when the student verbally defends themselves with a rebuttal or "comeback." This regularly leaves the victim to fend for themselves in fear of disciplinary action for defending themselves against the destructive words of a bully. Quite Often, this leads to an increase in youth on youth violence. The rules on bullying should be modified after research and a policy is approved by the student body.
Electronics. Policies should be made to prevent teachers and administrators from coercing students to unlock their phones for the purposes of a simple search. When this policy is made it, it must be made known to students that they will not face any repercussions for denying a search of their phone. The only time a students phone should be allowed to be unlocked is if there is an imminent threat to the safety of the school and its occupants.
Grading. Windermere High School is currently using an 80-20-0 percentile policy. This means that 80% of your grade is from Tests, 20% from quizzes, and 0% from classwork/practice. This would be acceptable, but it provides no incentive for the student to practice the material that is taught in class. This grading structure also punishes students that are not great test takers or those that experience anxiety during quizzes, leading to incorrect answers. Additionally, it encourages teachers and students to study and teach to the test meaning that they are simply learning how to pass the test but not employ those skills in the real world; they are simply studying to memorize. We propose we do a 50-30-20 percentage rule which would ensure that students will be incentivized to learn through practice, and it will still give tests an increase in importance.
Detention. Take note that Windermere High School is in violation of policies set forth by the School Board of Orange County Public Schools which dictate that "A reasonable assignment designed to improve the academic level of the student shall be an integral part of the detention period.” By requiring students to pick up trash and do labor around the school, outside, does not have anything to do with increasing your educational knowledge. This will cease immediately and a teacher will be on standby for any academic questions a student might have.
I believe that with the help of all students and parents we can change the school learning environment for the better. Implementing these changes will allow students to feel safer and more like adults than as if they’re children on a leash.
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