Focus on Education: Student Voices Part III

May 11, 2015

As some school districts struggle to improve high school graduation rates, students talked candidly about distraction about teenage life.  WBFO'S Eileen Buckley brings us part three of Focus on Education: Student Voices radio series reporting on those barriers to academic success.

Students from several area high schools participated in Student Voices focus groups.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"Kids put social media way too high on their list of priorities," said Da'Shaun Green, student at Leonardo Da Vinci High School in Buffalo.

Many high school students are living their lives on-line--through social media. Green said  social media infiltrates into the classroom where it is not allowed

"We're in the middle of class -- they're like stop, Tweet something, put something on Facebook, put something on Instagram," said Green.

Green has a mature attitude about social media. He said a constant need to send tweets and posts is not important in a student's life.

"Social media really doesn't get you where and a lot of it's drama really," noted Green. "I feel like it's an addiction."

Daniel Wilczewski is a student at Global Concepts Charter High School in Lackawanna. "There's so much pressure to be on social media," said Wilczewski.

Social media has become a  constant distraction for students that they are constantly involved in.

"I feel like there is a lot of pressure on kids," because if they don't use it, they feel left out," said Wilczewski. 

The on-line life has created more social anxiety and bullying for high school teens. 

"Social media really doesn't get you where and a lot of it's drama really," noted Da'Shaun Green, da Vinci student in Buffalo."I feel like it's an addiction."

"If you have really thin-skin, it can really get under your skin, like people Tweet things that they're not suppose to obviously. But it's like really, really bad," stated India Hector, student at Da Vinci.

Social media bullying is very difficult, even destructive for some.

"Like I know someone that actually cuts themselves over social media," said Hector.

Hector brings us even deeper into the teenage life of low self-esteem.  She describes the 'fear of failure'.

"Who gets their permit first, who gets the highest grades you know who has the prettiest clothes and prettiest teeth," said Hector.   

Students discuss barriers they face in education during focus groups at WNED/WBFO.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Will Keresztes is Deputy Superintendent of Student Services for the Buffalo Public Schools.

"Those of us who are City Hall, maybe we are at City Hall too much. We need to get out into the buildings," said Keresztes.  

Keresztes stressed the importance of meeting and listening to students.

"We need to really get out there, listen to their voice and remember their parents need a place t the table too because parents are going to expect that we are going to be listening to their children," said Keresztes.

Hector worries about students who walk school hallways with the head down -- she fears they are depressed and need attention. Some students even said teens disengage in the classroom because they're simply bored.

"What I try to do is keep the outside world separate from my classroom," said Deborah Grine, Science Teacher at da Vinci...

Focus on Education: Student Voices, a program produced by WNED/WBFO with area high school students.
Credit WBFO News photo of WNED program.

"When I go into my classroom, my primary objective is that the students learn the material and become scientifically literate citizens no matter what they are doing in my classroom, what their ability level, I want them to take something that they can use out in the real world," said Grine.

Still students complain of the homework load. "The homework load -- sometimes it can be a lot, especially if you miss school," noted Green.    

Students said they need help learning time management. Other students have growing responsibilities in their homes. "How do you expect a teenager just to know how to manage their time -- that has to be taught," said Wilczewski.

Some teens are putting jobs before their academics, but da Vinci student Green said earning money is the reason. "What I worry about now is how I'm going to pay for college," said Green.

"I'm scared to go to college. I know I have to, I have to, education is everything.  But the amount of work is crazy and the stuff they expect you to know -- I don't want to fail -- I'm definitely scared of failure.

For da Vinci student Hector said she believes problems students encounter with their education all starts with their family life. "Because before you go to school, you life with your family," stated Hector. 

WBFO/WNED's Focus on Education: Student Voices airs on WNED Television May 18th at 9 p.m.