TeenBloc, an alliance of high school students from the Pittsburgh Public Schools, wants to be heard over the din of debate on the usual school issues -- cuts, layoffs and closings. They want to focus the district and its leaders on something more basic, their right to a good education.
Board members are elected, educators are hired and parents are involved, but the students are a school district's ultimate stakeholders. Because their futures hinge on the quality of their education -- and their willingness to take advantage of it -- they want to be sure that school officials hear what they have to say.
On Monday, TeenBloc held a rally to kick off a campaign for a bill of rights developed by 15 students. Among them is the right to free expression; to a "socially, emotionally and physically safe and positive school climate"; to equitable academic resources; to respect and dignity; to effective teachers and to fair access to accelerated classes.
Who could argue with that? And who on the Pittsburgh school board or among the district's staff would want to see them shortchanged on these fundamentals?
But with every right comes a responsibility.
Since all students would be covered by any districtwide bill of rights, all students should commit themselves to holding up their end of the bargain: by getting to class every day, respecting their teachers, doing their homework, taking advantage of school opportunities, helping their peers, being a credit to the district.
We suspect that the students who are promoting the bill of rights already take these responsibilities seriously. If they want their peers to enjoy these guarantees, they've got to persuade all students to show they are worth it.
First Published October 17, 2013 8:00 PM