The State of Quality Education in Oakland-“I Deserve An Education System That Is Working as Hard as I Am” -A Student Perspective

By: Erin Simmons EOYDC and Energy Convertors Student Leader

To have quality in anything is to have possession of something incomparable: nothing can come close to it and nothing can surpass it. When know you have quality, you feel fulfilled and satisfied.

Unfortunately, quality is probably the last word I would use to describe education in an Oakland school. The lack of organization, student support, and effective learning makes the experience as an Oakland school student repulsive. The inability to express yourself is one of the biggest problems at my school. My school stresses the idea of creativity, yet rejects anybody that’s different. To walk in those halls feels like I’m part of an army of brainwashed clones. The quality of our student respect is low. We are referred to as “student” as if we weren’t placed on earth with a name that matters. The quality of our education is unsettling and our intellectual freedom sometimes feels nonexistent.

2018 Black Grad Rates for Black HS Seniors in Oakland

Overall, the bar for Oakland schools is low. Our results are hindered and exposure is limited. In my opinion, we deserve an education better than average and until that happens, Oakland schools (public or private) have no right to call their system “quality.”

The above chart broken down by numbers for Black seniors in Oakland in 2018

What does student power look like?

Power is a word that demands respect. Most things described as powerful are treated with great esteem. For example, Martin Luther’s King, “I Have A Dream” speech is considered powerful. Everyone who has been granted the opportunity to hear his speech would agree it deserves all the praise it is given. With that definition and example of power, though, the question of student power is left unanswered for me.

Students should be granted the same respect as the word power itself. However, judging from the terrible Black graduation rates (listed in the graphs), we are disrespected by low achievement and a lack of transparency! Students are not only fellow humans that are mentally pulled in multiple directions, but we are the future. Every young person from preschool to college deserves respect. To say I have power as a student means that my voice is heard and valued. It also means that I am a respected member of society. To have power as a student is to be looked at the same way people look at Dr. King’s speech. As a student, I deserve to have an education system working just as hard as I am to earn my contributions, sacrifices, and dedication to my academic success.

Student power means we are heard and the adults running this system go all out to ensure we have the best. I deserve that! As a student, our voices feel stripped and we often lose hope. To have student power is to not be deprived academically. Student power is the capability of student change to occur and for voices to be heard as opinions are being spoken.

I don’t want to just complain. Meet me halfway to ensure we all are getting what we need because judging from the data, my fellow students and I are carrying all the water.


Erin is an Oakland student, Energy Convertors Fellow, and an EOYDC youth leader that enjoys playing basketball and wants to see the quality of education rise in all Oakland schools.

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