To learn how students perceive the District's public schools, District Extra invited current and former students to The Washington Post last week and asked them: How you would improve the D.C. schools?
* Ruth Graves, 14, ninth-grader at Elliott Junior High School:
"I would make sure . . . each teacher has skills with children and how to react to a child . . . . If a child disrespects a teacher, instead of getting mad, they should just talk to them and try to see what's their problem."
* Pierre Lawson, 18, formerly a student at Roosevelt High School, who now plans to get his GED certificate:
"They should have different places you can go in the school where you can go for tutoring . . . . The teachers are not always going to help you . . . some teachers are there for money and some teachers are not. . . . Helping you is being a one-on-one teacher or tutor . . . . I think they should have more tutors or someone in the school that will help you or someone in the school that checks up on you . . . making sure you're on the right target or the right point."
* Robert Spencer, 13, High Roads Junior High School:
"If I could change anything in D.C. public schools, I would say it would have to be, like, lunch, because some of the lunches they give in the D.C. schools [are] not that good . . . .
"I would change some of the things the teachers say and change some of the teachers, because some of the teachers are not there for the students. Some of the teachers are there just to get their money and go home . . . not knowing that some of the things they say or do hurt the children and scar them for life or could scar them for life.
"Some of the advanced children, . . . they are not really learning anything, because they're smart and [teachers will] teach them stuff they already know . . . they need to be stepped up a little bit or skipped to another grade, and teachers or principals won't do that."
* Brandon Whiting, 15, 10th-grader at McKinley Technology High School:
"If I could change D.C. public schools I would hope that . . . the teachers would take in the students' input on the system, see how we would feel about certain things that they make up rules for in the D.C. public schools . . . .
"Like with uniforms . . . we're the ones that have to wear the uniforms; see how we would feel about it before just making a rule saying we have to wear uniforms."
* Princess Galloway, 16, 10th-grader at Dunbar High School:
"If you do something in school, you get in detention. Instead of having detention you could have a study hall . . . . Most of the kids who get in trouble in class, they get in trouble because they can have a reading disability or they don't catch on as fast as other kids. So, therefore, to take the laugh off them, they make you laugh, they be class clowns, when really inside they want help. But the teachers [are] not there showing them that they care, giving them that affection that they maybe don't get at home, that they come to school and try to get, and when they don't do it the only thing they can do is show bad behavior when they really are good kids.
"Suspending a child ain't going to teach them nothing. That's how most of these kids [are] getting killed, stabbed, stealing cars, because they don't have nothing else to do in their spare time. They need more study halls in schools. They need more educational learning experiences that these young teenagers can have to do outside of school."
* Codero Sellers, 16, attended Johnson Junior High School last year and will enter the Job Corps next month:
"Teachers, they'll put the assignment on the board and then leave it at that, you've got to figure it out on your own. That's not what they're there for. They're there to teach us and give us more knowledge about the subject or whatever they're teaching.
"Suspending a kid, that's just free time for me. Too much spare time can't lead to nothing good. That's what I would change."