In a recent post, I wrote about how some of the members of the district’s Human Relations Task Force (HRTF) expressed concern over the lack of student participation in the process. I also wrote that if students could not come to the meetings, the meetings should be brought to them, physically or virtually.

This morning, things got clearer and I believe I now know what should be done.

In today’s Los Angeles Times, there is a story about the “L.A. Unified superintendent’s student advisory council” which recently met with the mayor and is focused on “creating a wider campaign to educate Angelenos about the effects of gun violence and encourage action to prevent it.”

The students created a website – here’s the link: – and have an official campaign “developed with help from the mayor’s Youth Council to End Gun Violence.”

What the district needs right now – tomorrow – is a student advisory council to make the tolerance curriculum recommendations currently assigned to the HRTF.

The chief reason for this is what hit me this morning: Here were are, a bunch of adults, most of whom have been out of school for a while and out of touch with today’s digitally-charged teens, trying to come up with a program that will help them reject hate.

It seems to me that this program has a far greater chance of success if we reversed the command and control by taking it out of the hands of adults and putting it in the hands of students.

Students know what needs to be said and how it should be delivered far better than our room full of adults. Plus, any program anywhere has a lot better chance of succeeding if the participants, the students, have some skin in the game.

Boiled down, it comes to a choice between a program devised by adults that once again tells kids what to do and when to do it, or one created by students who have more of stake in seeing it succeed because it’s their baby, so to speak.

That concept is true for most programs, public and private.

With this in mind, I am recommending that the current HRTF pause operations until a sufficient student population can be created to participate. And that student population will have the ultimate decision-making power over the final recommendations to the school board.

I have more faith and trust in students creating an effective program than the adults in the HRTF, and I’m one of those adults.

Pause the task force. Get student buy-in and participation and let them drive the process.

Like this idea? Think it should be implemented or that it at least warrants further discussion? If so, you should be wondering why it did not come from the superintendent. You should be wondering how the TF could have been created at all without first providing for significant student participation.

The answer, again, is because of failed leadership from the superintendent. It is embarrassing to me that a dysfunctional district like the LAUSD has a student advisory committee with some teeth – they met with the mayor!!! – while we have a superintendent who seems to be content to taking only a half-step above nothing about this major problem.

Steve Smith