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 Students Share Thoughts With Officials From Throughout the State

​​Students from three local community day schools participated Dec. 5 in a panel discussion intended to help school board members and administrators understand how to better serve students.

The hour-long discussion was part of the California School Boards Association Annual Education Conference at the San Diego Convention Center.

The students talked about how they know teachers care about them, whether they feel engaged in the classroom, their goals and dreams, and ways that educators could improve schools.

Felipe Flores, a student at McPhatter Community School, said he only feels that a teacher cares about him when the teacher shows the same care and respect for all of the students.

“It’s not only about one student,” he said at the discussion. “It’s about the whole classroom, I believe.”

Encouragement, one-on-one care, a comfortable learning environment, and teacher stability also go a long way, the students agreed.

The dozens of education officials in the audience listened intently as the teenagers spoke.

“This is exactly the kind of conversation that boards need to be hearing” as they put together their spending plans, said Teri Burns, senior policy director for the California School Boards Association. “I fully suspect that everybody in here will go back and do student panels, because they got so much out of this.”

It’s important to listen to what students have to say, because they’re the ones using the educational programs, she added.

Three of the students attend McPhatter Community School and two attend North County Tech Academy. Both are part of the San Diego County Office of Education’s Juvenile Court and Community Schools. Another three students spoke from Escondido Community Day School, which is operated by the Escondido Union High School District.

All of the students said they hope to graduate from high school and continue on to college.

The session was moderated by Dan Sackheim, educational options consultant with the California Department of Education.

Sackhein said he thought the students’ words would have a profound impact on students across California.

“There are kids all over the state that you’re never going to meet who are going to have their lives changed by what you’ve said today,” he said.