On April 15th 2023, PhillyBOLT hosted a youth-led event inviting students from Philadelphia public schools to express how they felt about their high school experience while elected officials listened. Throughout the event, many opinions were heard. However, how can we be sure that elected officials will consider the perspectives shared by student participants?
Many officials who have been elected to office still haven't made the promised changes. It almost seems like they craved the benefits of the position and the power . There were over 200 students present at this event, an impressive and uncommon outcome. Although the elected officials may not take what we had to say into consideration, we still spoke out. I asked residents of Philadelphia what their take on how government politicians operate in the citizens favor?
“I feel as though government officials should listen to our opinions more, as youth since, we are the future. I do not believe it is fair that decisions are being made FOR US, without being talked about TO US first” said Sharnice Lowry, a public school student at Frankford High School in Northeast Philadelphia.
“I believe they come in with the best intentions; however, the system corrupts the morals and values of the people,” said Mia Grasty, a Philadelphian native.
We all want to see change, but how far do we have to go to see it?
Many of the students discussed security and public safety, specifically how some schools like Frankford High, Girls High, Sankofa, and Prep Charter HS. The students think they should have metal detectors but other schools like Maritime Academy Charter School don’t.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, 4% of public high schools have metal detectors. They reflected on a perceived bias within members of the Board of Education, where they over-securitize specific schools.
People claim that security guards should be friendly and not so serious in an effort to provide a safe and welcoming environment. But what is a taser going to do against a firearm? School security is just a human shield for students. They need guns to protect us.
On March 29 2023, Devin Weeden, a 15-year-old Simon Gratz High School student was shot and killed on his way to school. He was the youngest of 12, an honor roll student, and a football star. We cannot blame Simon Gratz school and staff for not protecting this young man, as this happened about 5 blocks away from the school, but what about the shootings that happen directly in Philadelphia schools? Why are these students not being protected?
To do better, the district needs to have our security guards holding guns on their belts or just have staff walk these kids to their bus stops and wait until they are on safely. A small gesture can go a long way to protect us.