A fresh start

New LSC student representatives have hopes for the future

New student representatives William Clancy ‘22 and Alex Kerr ‘23 participated in their first Jones Local School Council (LSC) meeting on Jan. 11, hoping to increase student voice in school leadership. 

They joined due to a new CPS policy that requires high schools to have three student representatives on their LSCs, as Jones Assessment Coordinator Nicole Guevara said in an email sent to students.

“Earlier this year Illinois adopted a new law that expands youth participation on Local School Councils (LSCs) by increasing the number of student representatives by two additional student LSC members,” said Guevara.

The new representatives saw these additions  as a chance to use their interest in local 

governance and student advocacy for good.

“I’ve been pretty passionate about student voice ever since I was a freshman, and this was a really great opportunity to take that to the next level,” said Kerr. “I enjoy making sure everyone gets heard.”

The representatives also said that student opinions are often missing from discussions about school policy, especially due to the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s a lot of decisions that get made without student input,” said Clancy. “That’s been especially impacted by remote learning, because a lot of decisions were made that really affected students, but they really didn’t get a voice in.”

The addition of these new student positions on the LSC should help the council better understand students’ reality attending Jones.

“As much as parents know, love, and care about their kids, they’re not in the school,” said Kerr. “They’re not watching the choices that they make on the LSC be enacted and dealing with the effects.”

Both representatives expressed that the LSC and school administration sometimes underestimate the power and importance of students in the school community.

“When the Chicago Teachers Union had all the teachers walk out, schools grinded to a halt,” said Clancy. “What would happen if students just didn’t show up? We are the largest part of the Jones ecosystem, but we’re frequently underrepresented when decisions are made.”

They encourage their peers to get more involved with the LSC and other governing bodies in the school community.

“It’s important that even people who aren’t on the LSC get out and speak to their reps and try to make active change in whatever way they can,” said Kerr.

Clancy agreed, saying “I’m hoping we can provide more opportunities for students to get involved with the LSC.”

The representatives also acknowledged the recent conflicts between LSC members and Jones administration, saying they wish important issues could be discussed in a more civil way.

“This is an environment where you’re trying to teach kids to be intelligent, not just academically, but also socially and emotionally,” said Kerr. “So if the environment you’re fostering is harmful, then it will be harder for students to learn to be socially and emotionally intelligent.”

Neither representative wanted to take a specific side in this conflict, but they did feel that Jones administration has sometimes been unfairly vilified.

“It’s important to remember that Dr. Powers isn’t a villain. As much impact as harmful decisions have, the only thing you can really do is work to restore the community after that,” said Kerr. “At a certain point, trying to look back on past mistakes instead of allowing positive change to happen isn’t helpful.”

A specific goal they have as LSC representatives going forward is to shorten meeting times, since most regular meetings last around four hours on weeknights.

“I’ve been really struck by how incredibly circular a lot of the discussion is, like there were topics that we sat down to talk about, and 45 minutes of debate would go by with people just restating their points of view,” said Clancy. “We can do a lot more to make these meetings more efficient, because no student can sit through four hours of meetings regularly.”

Overall, Clancy and Kerr are optimistic they can help the Jones LSC turn over a new leaf with their unique perspectives as students.

“We can always be putting our best foot forward,” said Clancy. “I  think the LSC  sometimes  takes  it’s mind off that and allows  itself to be overwhelmed by things that have happened in the past, but we should still always be trying to put our best foot forward.”