Practicing public participation

More people need to make use of the public participation section of the Edmond Public School District School Board meetings.

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More people need to make use of the public participation section of the Edmond Public School District School Board meetings.

Adeline Gruen, Co-Editor-in-Chief

One of the most important aspects of a democracy is the involvement of the public. The people have a right to let their leaders know where or how they need help and what needs to be changed. One of the many ways to do this is public participation.

While public participation usually has to do with different companies seeking out input from their consumer base, it can also deal with political figures and the people they represent. Practicing public participation is necessary if one wishes to make a change in the area they reside.

The Edmond Public School District (EPS) offers a public participation session during each school board meeting. However, most do not use this to the full benefit. For example, at the school board meeting on Sept. 8th, only two EPS members showed up to speak during that particular part. Seniors Will Orr and Colton Walker at Edmond North High School spoke about how they want the EPS policy about hats in the dress code to be repealed. Orr talked about the significance of hats to him, and how he thinks they are an extension of someone’s personality so it wouldn’t be an identity risk since hats are person specific. While the School Board did not give Orr and Walker a decision at the meeting, they said one would be coming. While public participation may not yield immediate results, it is helpful for people of all ages to have their voices heard.

Another way people have used public participation in EPS school board meetings is asking for a change in the date of graduation. In the past, graduation has been held on the Saturday before the last week of school at different times for all the EPS high schools. Recently, EPS has made it so all three high schools have graduation at the same time the Friday before the last week of school. This causes problems not only for those who may have students, friends or family at multiple schools, but this day also conflicts with the State meet for Seniors that are involved in Track and Field. Unless these students want to miss their last time participating in the State meet, they are not able to attend graduation. Some parents asked the school board to move the date and were able to have the time pushed back by 30 minutes in an attempt to give all enough time to make it to the ceremony.

Whether it’s wearing hats or a high schooler’s last hurrah, public participation can be used in many ways to help facilitate change.

Public participation is an important tool that more people need to use in order to help changes be made. If people don’t speak up about the changes that need to be made nothing will happen.

Contact Adeline Gruen at [email protected]