Graduations are a celebratory time, the passing from one stage to the next, with family and friends by your side. For thousands of Black and Brown children in Oakland, this will be a bittersweet progression. While they graduated from OUSD or a charter, their grades make them ineligible to even apply to the UC or CSU system or other first tier schools. The most shameful thing about this, is many students don’t know until it is too late.
The encouraging thing is we can absolutely fix this issue, as many schools have taken it on themselves to. But we really need every comprehensive high school to take this issue on and assure that all our babies are prepared for college. We need to Dump the D.
Celebrating Schools Showing Results
At the recent A-G Award ceremony hosted by Families in Action, Dr. Charles Cole told the story of his brother, a year behind him in school, who worked to get his grades up, and was planning to follow Dr. Cole to Cal State Hayward. He got his spot, but unbeknownst to him, when it came down to it, he didn’t complete the A-G requirements. Instead of dorm life in Hayward he was serving the first of two tours in Iraq. It should not be like that, and it doesn’t need to be.
At one public school, 100% of Black students graduated, only half were UC/CSU eligible. At what is considered the “Black” high school, 93% of Black student graduated and 48% were college eligible. We have other schools, where 100% of Black graduates are college eligible, district and charter. The issue is one of grading and support. Let me explain.
DUMP the D
It’s weird, but for many, getting a D in a high school class is worse than getting an F. It starts with the college entrance requirements, the so-called A-G courses, a set of classes every student needs to successfully pass to apply to top tier colleges. If you get a D in some schools that is a passing grade, but for college eligibility it is not. So a D is good enough for graduation but not good enough for the UC/CSU system. In other schools they have “dumped the D” and a D is a failing grade. So, if you graduate from the school you are pretty much guaranteed to also be college eligible.
And the kicker here is that because a D is passing in these schools, they don’t guarantee you can retake the class, the student needs to figure that out on their own typically.
We told the story of Leadership Public Schools, a charter, and how they made the grading move of changing the D to a failing grade, and also the powerful work that Matil Abdel-Qawi is doing in OUSD on the same fronts. Every comprehensive high school should make this move; changing their grading policy and also raising support and opportunities for students to make up classes.
And please watch the recent A-G awards. There are powerful testimonies from the schools that are showing progress and results with our Black and Brown students, and also the young people who are the ultimate beneficiaries or burden bearers. So please join us in our campaign to change these grading polices, create transparency for families and equity in college eligibility for our students who need it most. Sign our petition and lets get OUSD schools and charters who haven’t yet, to guarantee college access and Dump the D