Nate Carson is a 16 year old junior at Yreka High School. He is planning to go into carpentry after he graduates. He was born in Southern California and has lived in California all his life. He is writing a piece on how teachers do not give students the respect and freedom they deserve. His interests include woodworking, spending time with his family, and school reform.

This letter was written by a Siskiyou County high school student as part of the Siskiyou Writes! camp. Students identified a community issue or concern of interest to them, researched the issue, and composed a polished piece that proposes action of some kind.

 After completing my sophomore year of high school, I’ve learned a few things that I feel compelled to share with you all. I have been successful and not successful in my various classes this past year, and that is basically true for all of my years of school. I’ve struggled with some coursework, and I’ve managed to excel in others. I am by no means a perfect model citizen, in school or even in life. But I do have a perspective to share with everyone who plays a role in designing school systems that impact so many kids every year. Many kids I went to school with share some of my thoughts on the ways school operates. We suspect, based on years of experience, that school isn’t really designed to meet the actual needs of actual kids who attend them. Specifically, I would greatly benefit by having more freedom, having teachers understand me and my life better, and having the opportunity to help design how and what I learn in school.

I think that students should get the respect and freedom that they deserve, since we are almost legal adults. For example, a student should be allowed to answer the phone when they get a call if they decide that it is important. We should be allowed to get a drink or use the bathroom when we need to and should not have to ask for permission. These are decisions that we should have the authority to make.

We are more than students, we are people. And you should know that some of us have responsibilities in our lives that are more important than school work. Family responsibilities can include caring for younger siblings, holding down a job, helping the household function, and even acting as the primary caregiver for sick or elderly relatives. School work comes second to real-life obligations, and I can't be bothered by school work when I’m with my grandma in the hospital, for instance. A lot of teenagers have other responsibilities than schoolwork, and for me and my friends, we have more to deal with than most adults realize.

In addition to needing freedom and dealing with heavy responsibilities, I think if the curriculum was adjusted to better fit a student, they would have a greater chance of success in classes because they would be interested in them. If we could choose what projects we did then we would care about the project and be more invested. For example, if I could design a year-long project that I chose with a teacher that they approved, I would be more invested and would want to see it all the way through. My career interest is carpentry and related fields, so if I could do a carpentry project, that would be a great learning experience that would help me in the field I would like to go into. Just having a say in how and what I learn would help me feel more included in my own education.

Many students feel that we are treated like small children even though we are all in high school and have many responsibilities. We might actually be able to handle more freedom and more choice if adults gave us more chances and helped us along. It would help a lot if I could study what I had an interest in. If students could pick a project, they would excel in both school and career. I would really appreciate the chance; we all would.