Citizens of Ventura prepare to “feel the bern” Thursday, May 26 as presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is set to speak at Ventura College. This a unique opportunity for all “Venturans,” but especially for Foothill students. Ventura College sits a mere few hundred feet opposite Foothill, enticing students with a rare opportunity sitting in their own backyard.
Who wouldn’t want to attend this rally? Well… conservatives, libertarians, moderates, and many more… yet this is an opportunity for anyone who is interested in the race, even if they aren’t a Sanders fan. Much knowledge can be gained by attending, especially if it is one’s first rally. Most people would not think twice about missing one day of school to take advantage of this rare opportunity, and many will.
However Foothill juniors are faced with a precarious situation. The final day of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test happens to fall on the same day of the rally. The SBAC is a standardized test given to juniors in order to determine how well they have been taught. In essence, the intent of the SBAC is to evaluate a school and teachers indirectly by testing the skill and knowledge of students.
Normally skipping school would be a non-issue, after all what’s the harm in skipping one day of bureaucratically imposed testing? Normally there would be no harm, yet there is more to the SBAC than initially meets the eye.
The SBAC counts for more than just convenient statistics to be analyzed by the state. The results of this particular test are used to determine a school’s national ranking, which is an important aspect of Foothill culture. Foothill is ranked in the top one percent of the nation, and students who are currently attending are privileged to state this fact. The truth is, had previous generations of students not taken the SBAC seriously, or simply not taken it at all, the current generation would not have the prestige that it is afforded by Foothill’s title.
If the juniors of this year don’t pull their weight then it will affect future generations of foothill students.
So, Foothill juniors are stuck between a rock and a hard place, attempting to make a decision whether to attend school, and having only a vague notion of SBAC actually stands for.
Should they take advantage of a unique opportunity that will likely never afford itself again, or attend school out of a sense of duty to future students?
Of course this answer will vary from individual to individual, as it should, however I urge interested students not to pass up the experience of being politically active.
Attending the rally is as much of a learning experience as any lecture, and is a scenario in which students have the chance to learn a great deal from others. Students ought not pass up this one-time event out of a fear of letting others down, or a sense of obligation.
It is not necessary to even like Sanders in order to learn a great deal about politics and policy from the rally.
This is not an attempt to convince students to attend who prefer to stay at school (or simply find Sanders abhorrent) to attend the rally. However students should be aware that sometimes missing one day of class is acceptable when the outcome is a furthering one’s working knowledge of politics and the world.
Make no mistake, SBAC is important, however it is the choice of the student which event is more important.
Do not let yourself be dissuaded from making the decision that you deem right. SBAC or Bernie, you need to be happy with the decision made, and both are equally valid. However do not allow yourself to miss out on an opportunity which you will later regret.
Illustration Credit: Jenny Chang / The Foothill Dragon Press