The Utah State Board of Education has named 15 students from across the state to the first inaugural Student Advisory Council. A Park City High School junior has been selected to join the board representing the district for this school year. Carolyn Murray has this:
Park City High School junior Daniel Bernhardt applied for the position this fall and recently learned of his appointment. He said he wasn’t entirely sure why he wanted to represent fellow students at the state board of education until he attended his first meeting. He said they’ll meet about every 3 months. He believes mental health and students with disabilities are two areas where Utah school districts can improve.
“And, I actually still can’t exactly remember what my answer was cause I had so many ideas ping-ponging around in my head but I think I chose mental health…the mental health of students. For me personally, I have degenerative eye disease called Stargardt. It pretty much means that I am just losing my central vision. I’m legally blind and I have an IEP and I just feel as though, you know, I think it’s pretty good in Park City, but a lot of the students with IEP’s or blindness aren’t always in the greatest situation in other school district around Utah. I just felt as though students with IEP’s needed more representation.”
Bernhardt hopes their ideas will be taken seriously and changes will be made.
“People who are running it, I think, are passionate about it. They really think it will work but I couldn’t speak for the higher ups. I don’t know if they’ll use any of our ideas that we pitch or even listen to them. I guess time will tell. You know, this is the first think like this in Utah. We decided we were going to establish several committees. School safety was a big concern. Definitely representation for race and sexual orientation. Finally, probably, standardized testing. I think it was re-working standardized testing because I think a lot of people right now, are really unhappy with standardized testing."
He said the it will be difficult to make real changes in certain areas.
“The focus on standardized testing is going to be really hard to make change because it is so cemented into a part of schools agenda. For some of the other things such as safety and representation for groups of students, I think that will be easier to affect change in. I don’t know whether we’ll see it boil down to a district level or a state level. I am not sure.”
Bernhardt hopes to gather input from his peers and bring it to the Utah Board of Education Student Advisory Board meeting which is scheduled for January.