A Microscope of the Model Home, Issue 2

Silence of the Students

Is Francis W. Parker a model democracy, or is it actually a dictatorship?

The way the administration has refused to listen to students makes me fear that we have no say in our own education and development.

Let’s take the case of Senior Month. Senior Month was proposed by Matthew Turk when he ran for Student Government President; it was the main part of his platform. Basically, due to the fact that last year’s student government wasn’t able to bring the matter to a vote before quarantine, the issue was postponed to Zoom sessions. But in those Zoom sessions, we never had a quorum, so the student body couldn’t vote on the matter. Then, since we never had our democratic say on Senior Month, the administration decided to adopt it. All this because it was one person’s opinion!

Executive Advisor Ava Ori sent out a survey to students about Senior Month. Seventy percent of seniors shared that they would rather go to school than have Senior Month. However, the administration considers Senior Month a “done deal” and has expressed that neither student opinion nor a student vote matter because it’s already been decided.

We had a plenary session with Head of the Upper School Justin Brandon. He spent most of the time dodging questions and the rest of the time explaining that the negative student opinion didn’t matter to the administration.  

Our voices have been silenced.

As seniors who already have our entire year messed up because of COVID-19, we are now suffering a second time because the administration doesn’t care about us or our opinions. 

This further shows that the faculty and administration don’t believe we know what’s best for us. In Senior Graderoom, when discussing questions that the Seniors had for the administrators, we were told that if we were in school instead of having Senior Month, our relationships with our teachers would be ruined since none of us would do our homework. First of all, I don’t know how they know what our future work ethic is going to be! Secondly, I’ve been waiting my entire high school experience to take senior electives.  It would be disappointing for me–and I’m sure for many of my classmates–to have those experiences we’ve been looking forward to be cut short.  

While it would be discouraging enough to think that our opinions of what will happen at the end of our senior year don’t matter, conversations held with Dean of Student Life Joe Bruno in Civil Liberties class further reinforced the idea that the administration doesn’t care about student opinion. We were given an intellectual exercise to come up with offensive slogans for hypothetical banners in order to figure out which ones would be censored by the administration, and then had a conversation with the Dean about their response to these slogans. 

From that, we learned that as students at Parker, the administration expects us to only speak positively of Parker outside its walls. As a school that believes in training students to be outspoken and to bring the morals of embryonic democracy outside its walls, it’s troubling that we are expected only to share positive messages about Parker, as opposed to truthful ones.

We say we have these values and we don’t uphold them. We’re taught to debate, but are prevented from debating with the school. We were taught to protest, but expected to say silent when those protests go against the wishes of the administration.  Parker clearly isn’t the embryonic democracy we are taught it is.