Monta vista, how do you feel?
At every rally, we get asked the same question. And at every rally, we answer the same way:
We feel good, oh we feel so good, oh!
But does anyone really care about what we have to say? Apparently not. It is difficult to believe that FUHSD pays attention to our opinions, with the lack of student input on the final decision for the new bell schedules.
But does anyone really care about what we have to say?
Let’s back up. Currently, Fremont and Homestead HS have four block days built into their bell schedules, while Cupertino, Lynbrook and MVHS have two. However, over the last three years, a bell schedule committee was tasked with developing two new schedule options that included parameters such as a later start time and three tutorials per week, while still meeting required educational instructional minutes.
The district collected data in years past through student surveys regarding these factors. However, because the teacher’s union had to negotiate the change in bell schedule in their contract, their opinion seemed to be the only one that mattered in the end.
After finalizing the two options, the committee presented them to the Fremont Education Association, teacher representatives in our district, and asked them to vote by Jan. 23.
In the weeks leading up to the decision, some teachers let their students vote on which one to implement and based their vote off of the majority. Still, that left some without a say — in a survey of 364 students, 31 percent did not get a chance to vote through teacher-led discussions. Our teachers should not have had to take it upon themselves to make sure students got a vote, while potentially compromising their own viewpoint in the process.
The electronic ballot was distributed to all FEA members on Jan. 19, and based on their votes, it has been made official that MVHS and Lynbrook HS will follow the two-block schedule, while Cupertino, Fremont and Homestead HS will follow the four-block schedule for the 2018-19 school year.
Teachers preferred different schedules, leading to a divided vote, especially at MVHS. While the two-block option appeared to be favorable for the language and math department because of the advantage of seeing students more often and repetition of skills, the four-block option was favorable for many science and elective teachers because it provided adequate time to set up and clean up.
Although student input helped in creating the schedule, it wasn’t considered for the final decision. It would seem wise to seek feedback from all of the stakeholders, including us, when making a decision that will have such significant impact on our community. The new schedules are also likely to impact our parents, who were clueless about the decision for next year, because of traffic and differing start times and end times.
District administration, and not just teachers at our school, should have made sure we knew as much as we could about this issue and provided us a voice in this important decision. In a survey of 364 students, only 4 percent heard about the bell schedules through administration. Although the district board meetings are available to the public, we were not aware that they were the only avenue to educate ourselves. No announcements, no emails, only word of mouth. We have been kept in the dark and out of the loop. Students and parents had little means of hearing about the new scheduling options and informing themselves on its potential impacts.
It’s understandable for FUHSD to not consult us in every decision — to try and gather the opinions of thousands of students every time a decision needs to be made would be inefficient. But changing bell schedules not only affects the staff, but the students and parents as well. It does not take much effort for administration to simply ask the students what their stance is. After all, they have polled 2,380 students before about technology access or how we get to school in the morning.
All of us are affected by this change, so we should all have the ability to express ourselves.
Despite the emphasis that MVHS administration places on listening to student input, there is no way to trust that our opinions are being heard when we are unable to effectively voice them. All of us are affected by this change, so we should all have the ability to express ourselves. It’s up to the district whether they want to listen to our point of view while making the decision, but our perspectives should at least be considered rather than assumed or neglected.
So, to answer the ever-so-popular question of how we feel, we feel left in the dark. We feel ignored and left out of the decision. We feel as if our opinions don’t matter. But who knows? Maybe it wouldn’t matter. Maybe our vote — if we had one — wouldn’t sway the decision. Maybe it wouldn’t even be considered by the district.
Still, it would help to know that we have the opportunity to be heard. It’s not enough to just be a part of the process. We want assurance that FUHSD cares about what we have to say and that our opinion actually carries weight. But for now, we’ll just keep on saying we feel “good” — at least until we’re given the chance to say something else.