Youth Addresses Unequal Opportunities in Her School
We hear a lot about about the difficulties and disadvantages poor students and students of color face with regard to gaining access to the opportunities and resources they need to succeed. But rarely do we hear such poignant stories about facing these difficulties from students themselves. Andrea Lopez, a confident, studious 17-year-old high school student in California, sat down in an SAT prep class only to realize how underprepared she felt with the material compared to the wealthier, White students in the class. In a column for LA Youth that has been picked up in newspapers and blogs across the web, Andrea writes about the embarrassemnt she felt during the class:
"I thought I had a great vocabulary, but I had never heard words like “spurious,” “cogent” and “plaudits.” It’s disappointing that the schools I’ve been to didn’t give me as good an education as these kids. Usually I’m proud of getting some of the best grades in my classes, but I was jealous of what these students knew.
I realized that these kids probably grew up with parents who spoke English and used impressive-sounding words. But having Spanish-speaking parents, I learned most of my grammar and vocabulary on my own. I’ve never been ashamed of having parents who weren’t born here or didn’t graduate high school but sometimes I wish they were more educated so they could help me in school."
When Andrea brought her concerns to her advisor at her high school, he was supportive but unable to offer her more than the realization that she and students like here will have to work harder to overcome the academic, economic and social disadvantages that their schools can't address. Andrea embraces the challenge, despite the unfairness of it, but her story is a sad reminder of the hurdles some students have to jump over simply because our public school system doesn't have the resources or support it needs to provide every student with a fair and substantive opportunity to learn.
To learn more about L.A. Youth, a for-teens, by-teens newspaper addressing issues like racial identity and dilapidated schools, click here.