The lines of communication fray

Editorial Staff

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Jan EDITORIAL CARTOON

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“You won’t get in trouble if you cheat.” “The Team program was cancelled.” “Showing up late to class won’t lower your grade anymore.”
Heard in the hallways, these are all oversimplifications of policies recently proposed by the District Board. The only problem is most students haven’t actually read them.
And we are here to ask: can you blame us?
As a student, accessing information on policy changes is like hunting down Waldo—it’s there, but we have to know exactly what we’re looking for in order to find it.
The website the district uses to publicize its agendas looks like it’s from the ‘80s,  and is far less accessible to students than it would be as an abbreviated version on the Twig or Redwood TV.
During Board meetings, members don’t even interact with those who volunteer to speak.
While this may be the required format, we can’t help but wonder whether these meetings would be public if they weren’t ordered by law to be. The atmosphere is one that doesn’t invite open and honest input from the audience, particularly from students.
The difficulty in accessing clear, concise information, and being able to discuss it directly with members of the board and faculty is contributing to our misguided opinions about the policies themselves.
Take the recent Board policies BP/AR5113 and BP/AR5121, for instance, which aim to separate academic expectations from behavioral ones by proposing that absences will not lower grades or result in loss of credit.
When the policy changes were first proposed, some students worried that they might devalue class time, or benefit higher-achieving students only, who would learn the material on their own and then show up just for tests.
As a class of students ourselves, we understood these concerns, but after uncovering more about the issues and their roots, we realized we weren’t giving the Board enough credit.
In reality, the policies place greater value on attendance than before, as it’s understood that poor attendance will lower a student’s grade on its own, and that the added whole-grade drop is unnecessary.
Additionally, the policy originated in an attempt to lessen the penalty placed on minority students and students of lower socioeconomic status, who were less likely to have absences excused and were losing class credit more often than their peers.
Are the policies perfect? Not even close. But they’re moving in the right direction, and aren’t as bad as they are made out to seem either.
More than the current policies at play right now, it’s the system of creating these policies that needs the most reform. Part of that is involving students in the very thing being created in their name.
Of course, it’s our own responsibility to seek the types of interactions we’re demanding and not just spout rumors when we hear them.
Communication between two parties calls for cooperation on both ends, and it’s time we made that a priority.