Who ever talks about the rights of students? You never really think about them unless you feel like yours are being infringed upon. But what are they really?
A right to a safe school environment.
I feel like this is emphasized in schools above all others. The school is in charge of the safety and well-being of all of it’s students while they are in the care of the school staff. This is the cause of basically all the paperwork students and parents have to fill out related to school. Forms and waivers and signatures have to be given to allow students to participate in anything related to potential harm, this can include walking, this includes school activities off school property. My brother is a part of his high school basketball team and they had to go to the beach for a tournament. Most teams were allowed to play in the ocean and hang out, but my brother’s team could not even touch the water because the school district was afraid of someone getting hurt or drowning. Is this an overemphasis on the rules?
Also. Sometimes this “right” is used to take away other Constitutional rights such as free speech or right to assemble. Students are allowed to have these rights in theory, but the right to a safe school environment overrules any of the others.
There are other rights of students, the right to learn, the right to a learning space, the right to be able to speak freely within a classroom, BUT all of these are subjective and vary from region, state, district, and even classroom to classroom. Each teacher within a school has a certain standard of rules and expectations. What is supposably “standard” in the school might not be standard at all based on the teacher. I know in my high school experience there were an array of different standards practices depending on what teacher you were talking to. My English teacher could care less if we ate in the classroom, my Psychology teacher cared if we ate, but not if we chewed gum, and my French teacher would get angry if we did either. This is just one example of the countless ways that student rights across the country are very well not standardized.
This is the reason there is not a lot of data on this subject. While there are many cases related to students in schools there is no one standard of practice across the board because schooling environments are just so vastly different. What might seem like a heinous crime in one school is just everyday life in another. How could we standardize rules and regulations and the rights of students based on this spectrum?
Because these rules are so subjective it is easy for a school to overrule a student’s plight just based on the fact that they are a student and the school is in charge. What is really the worth of a student’s word over the testimony of a teacher? There is not a court system in the public high schools in America. Instead, there is an overworked principal who most of the time sides with the teacher because it gives the look of stability and solidarity to the school.
Looking deeper into these issues helps us to realize that schools are powerful. If this power is used incorrectly then the effects can be detrimental to the students.