Students from across Tennessee lend their insight to issues facing public education


More than 340 high school students gathered in Murfreesboro on March 10 to express their views on public education in Tennessee at the Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA) Student Congress on Policies in Education (SCOPE). The event took place on the Middle Tennessee State University Campus.

Four juniors from Haywood High School were selected from the Speech & Communications class to attend the 2020 Conference: Amariah Hines, Velma Santos, Kyeth Powell and Michael Harris. Teacher/sponsor Amy Webb commented, “Students need to have the opportunities to see how leadership skills prepare them for important roles within our communities when they become adults. Our local school boards are a critical part of the success of our public school systems and this conference is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about how board operate, set policy and make important decisions.”

Now in its 38th year, SCOPE is designed to give students a voice where public education issues are concerned and to involve young people in finding solutions to the topics that are discussed. Attendees participated in mock school board sessions, where they assumed the roles of school board members, school officials, parents, students and concerned citizens. The sessions were led by actual school board members, superintendents and education leaders from across the state. Haywood County Board member, Gem Bell was also in attendance.
During the afternoon session, students selected a speaker to represent each of their small groups to take part in full-scale debates on current education issues. This year’s four debate topics included:

  1. Cyberbullying shall be a zero-tolerance offense.
  2. The Uniform Grading Scale shall be adjusted to the traditional format.
  3. Students with perfect attendance shall be exempt from final exams.
  4. The school calendar shall be adjusted to a year-round schedule.

Following each debate, participants had the opportunity to vote to support or oppose the debate issues by participating in an online, SMS texting survey. 

The HHS students also participated in a tour of the State Capitol building, taking a stop in the Senate Chambers at Senator Dolores Gresham’s seat. Students also spent time exploring at the Adventure Science Adventure Museum in Nashville.