To our leaders: take note

For our nation:

  1. Members of Congress need to listen to their constituents. They’re elected to govern by the people, so they should govern for them. But it goes beyond just listening, it requires action. Those who govern need to show us that it’s beyond their own self-interests by listening to those who know about the issues than they do. It’s about listening to doctors, to teachers, to students.  It’s about listening to doctors, to teachers, to students. It’s about leading according to the voices of the people.
  2. Before Congress can listen, it must be elected fairly, not according to the lines drawn by those who only want to win. If our country prides itself on being a true democracy, then it’s time that those words ring true. We cannot continue to suppress the opinions of voters according to arbitrary district lines drawn as the result of gerrymandering.
  3. If you can drive, you should be able to vote. 16-year-olds are trusted with a license, and they should be trusted to form their own opinions too.
  4. We need to encourage high schoolers to become involved, but we cannot do so if we deny them the most basic right in any democracy.
  5. Climate change is real. It’s time to stop acting like it’s a political issue and get serious. According to a recent report, we have 12 years to clean up our act, and that starts at a federal level.

For our state:

  1. We need to increase funding for public schools. Instead of allocating so much money for standardized testing, improvements should be made to our schools and to our teacher’s salaries. We can’t expect our future to be ensured if no one invests in it.
  2. Our state’s policies need to be considered from a diverse perspective. Women should make decisions about legislation concerning women’s health, teachers should make decisions about our school. The policies that we are expected live by should be made by those who are directly impacted by the consequences.
  3.  We need to invest in infrastructure. Our roads and bridges, especially in the Tampa Bay Area, need serious attention, and this isn’t an isolated problem. Everyone must use the roads in this state for transportation, so this should be a top priority.
  4. It’s time that we modernize our laws. The United States’ incarceration rate is higher than any other country, according to the Miami New Times. And Florida is no exception to this. With one of the highest incarceration rates in the country, it’s high time that we legalize marijuana. There’s no need to imprison individuals for a minor offense like possession of marijuana, especially when that imprisonment is often racially biased.

For our schools:

  1. It’s time for us to offer comprehensive sex education. It needs to go beyond that 30 minutes we all had to sit through in middle school that preached abstinence and only abstinence. The truth is that most teenagers have sex, and they should know how to do it safely. High schoolers should be equipped with sex ed that includes more than just knowledge about how to have safe sex, but consent and information that applies to different sexualities.
  2.  We should require classes that teach life skills. Too many graduates leave high school with a diploma but no idea how to open a bank account, choose a healthcare plan or pay off student debt.  while traditional high school courses are necessary, classes that teach applicable skills shouldn’t be treated as an afterthought.
  3. Often, students feel that their administrations don’t have enough awareness of everyday issues the student body faces. Issues like sexual assault, mental health and bathroom usage for transgender students, can be overlooked when decisions are made. It’s the responsibility of a school’s administration to help students through issues they may be facing on and off campus, which requires knowledge of and response to prevalent issues.
  4. As is, free and reduced lunches don’t cut it. Students who can’t afford to pay for their school lunch should not be punished for it with subpar quality. For many students, school lunch is the only meal that they will reliably have all day, so it’s time that they meet the nutritional needs of the students who eat them.