Why Mack is Failing Us — Four Students Speak Out

By: Lateefah Edmondson    Pamela Tapia

Bonita Tindle      and          Sarai Cornejo

What do you need from high school to be successful in college?

Usually high schools are classified based on factors ranging from class size to parent involvement.  That’s not enough. High schools, like homes, have an obligation to provide students with the mindset to succeed in college.

At McClymonds, we should begin by confronting home-related issues, such as poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse, and lack of parenting.  We need to feel safe, healthy, engaged, and committed to our future. We need to have more options in classes, more career paths to explore (in the arts and sciences) and more qualified teachers, who are specialists in their academic area.

After McClymonds split into two small schools, the aftermath of the school board’s decision had an overbearing effect on the students, parents, and staff.  The schools were forced to reduce their enrollment leading to cuts in funding.  Students had to travel outside of the only school in West Oakland to attend other schools.

“ Most students need motivation,” said Asia Hill, 16, junior.

Students at McClymonds seem to lack the most critical requirement of all: motivation.  The lack of motivation causes insecurity in students thereby increasing the possibility of not going to college or dropping out of high school.  According to a group of McClymonds students, adults in their lives, including teachers and parents, don’t provide them with motivation or assurance of their success in their future, making it difficult for them to believe in themselves.

In West Oakland, where violence is present every day, making the surrounding environment unsafe, the fear of losing a loved one to gang violence threatens students’ academic success because it distracts their concentration. In the very first days of 2011, one student’s brother was already gunned down in front of a corner store just one block away from school.  Students mourning the 22-year-old man’s death created a disruption in learning for many students who have a relationship with the family.

Outside of failing to provide moral support, Mack fails to provide advanced classes that will give students a head start in college.

“ We need more advanced placement classes so I can be more on a college level,” said Kenya Lee-Fletcher, 18, senior.

Mack offers only one AP class — in English — compared to Oakland High, which offers AP classes in almost every subject.  Students who take the only advanced placement class at McClymonds all feel that the class is taught at the same level as a regular non-AP class at other highly funded schools.

McClymonds high school needs an immense amount of support and funding to provide help to its students. High schools provide essential skills and tools necessary to foster a successful college experience. Schools like McClymonds should lay the groundwork by giving students the necessary tools to succeed in college and in their professional careers.

2 responses to “Why Mack is Failing Us — Four Students Speak Out

  1. Its good to hear your voices.
    I am an adult, parent and former teacher at McClymonds.

    Asia Hill said “According to a group of McClymonds students, adults in their lives, including teachers and parents, don’t provide them with motivation or assurance of their success in their future, making it difficult for them to believe in themselves.”

    You are part of a great history of generations that have had to overcome many obstacles for many of the rights we now possess today. They had to overcome them and I pray your safety.
    You want assurances for success? I can’t say I recall a generation that has had assurances.
    But education has changed over the last years. From looking in, it appears MAC has all the resources,equipment, football fields, computer labs, but yet you mention it needs immense funding. Could you explain what the students need funding for?
    I believe I’ve seen career centers on campus with computers on the internet. What else do you need? Your final statement, “Schools like McClymonds should lay the groundwork by giving the necessary tools…” Could you elaborate on what you mean by laying the groundwork? and what are the necessary tools you see missing to assist students in college and careers.

    • Now at Mack and in West Oakland, we (including myself) are always hearing
      from adults who are supposed to be nurturing us that
      statistics are against our odds of finishing school and becoming
      someone in life. That statement is almost never followed by a “but
      you can be an exception.” Living in this wave of violence that seems
      to hit West Oakland the most, we desperately need to know that someone
      believes in us as a person and has high hopes for us.

      Mack does not have all the resources. We need tables and chairs for
      the overcrowded classrooms. We need computers that work and are not
      missing a mouse, key, or software necessary for a new project, we need
      internet for research, and teachers who are qualified and can explain
      the subject that they were hired to teach. We need more money for

      The supplies that we have now are not adequate for basic use. The
      computers in the computer lab are not up to date in accessibility and
      the internet is not available to students. We do not have sufficient
      computers with working hard and software and internet connections
      anywhere in the school to accommodate one 30-student classroom. And
      the career center only has five computers or so and about half of them
      have working internet.

      You ask what we need? We need everything! From pencils to calculators
      to books and most importantly support from our school.

      Mack is responsible to make sure that we are college ready and have
      the tools and skills necessary to succeed at it. Mack is the
      groundwork for the rest of our careers. We rely on Mack to provide us
      with support when our own families can’t.

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