Public education can be great for those that are privileged enough to live in “good” school districts. Education differs from zip code to zip code. Unfortunately, where you live may play a large role in a child’s future due to the lack of extracurricular educational opportunities. For example, some school districts have IB, AP courses that count as college credit while others do not. Consequently, the students that do not have those extra courses go into college courses without the same support and preparation. In contrast; to the individuals that are able to and take the IB and AP courses can skip so many classes in college that it automatically puts them at months or years of an advantage. The public institutional system can diminish or lower the opportunities for some, but that should not be the case because everyone should have the same quality of education. Unfortunately, this is how the government has created this educational system. The lower quality educational opportunities are made of the government which is made up of wealthy rich men so that their family and friends can stay on top of the socio-economic pyramid. If everyone had the same educational opportunity then everyone would be on the same playing field.
As a young womxn of color, I notice the difference in education in many situations from my low-income background. Someone a few zip codes away can be much more well-read and versed in the same subject area I am interested in, not because they care more, or they put more effort in, but because of their zip code. A different zip code entails a different school district and in turn entails better opportunities. Different school districts have different programs such as private tutoring for SAT’s.
“A different zip code entails a different school district and in turn entails better opportunities.”
In high school, I had an average score on my SAT, yet I had a 4.6 GPA. How did my SAT not correlate with my GPA? Many say it’s because of the structure of the SAT, I say it’s partly because of my zip code. My zip code allowed me to have the opportunity to have great teachers and great classes leading to my high GPA. However my zip code, or in other words, my family’s low income, did not allow me to receive private SAT classes. Consequently, my zip code leads to a lower SAT score than I could have had. Also, I did not prepare in advance the studying I could have had if I lived in a different area.
A different zip code equates to different conversations. My high school conversations were about drugs, drinking, and pregnancies. Other high school conversations in different zip codes have the opportunity to talk about strategies to get into the best schools through the best tutoring programs. Not to say that other high schools did not have to persevere against the teenage rebellion of drugs, drinking, and pregnancies. But these other high schools had the opportunity to talk about college like it was part of their routine.
For me, I had no one in my family that went to college or knew the steps to get there. Consequently, I relied on the few resources I can gather through my public high school. Unfortunately, I did not get into my dream schools even with a 4.6 GPA, president of two different school clubs, and other extracurricular activities. In part, I blame my SAT scores. It is a well-known fact that “moving up an income category was associated with an average score boost of over 12 points.” Inevitably this is a recurring issue. I am not the only student that did not get into their dream school because of the lack of educational opportunities. The educational institution created by the government develops the lack of educational possibilities because of someone’s socioeconomic level.
Although I partly blame the lack of resources for my failed attempt to get into top schools, I understand that everyone has a different route in life. Sometimes low-points are needed to understand and remember where we come from. Education is important to me because as a young womxn I believe that it is crucial for womxn to get a higher education because we can now change the world. Unfortunately, too many jobs have only men in higher positions because women are left out of the lack of education and encouragement we obtain.
“Although, I was systematically meant not to succeed I hope to help others that are in the same situation as myself.”
Therefore, I encourage every womxn to go after their dreams and not to settle for the entry-level positions, which are great opportunities to get our foot in the door. Notwithstanding, we must persevere and aspire to become managers, presidents of company’s, founders of organizations, doctors, lawyers, and politicians. All of these are positions are lacking the representation of womxn, especially womxn of color like myself. Although, I was systematically meant not to succeed I hope to help others that are in the same situation as myself.
As a High School Tutor and as an unassigned advisor to the high school students, for a few years, I have witnessed the difference that advisors and counselors make on a student’s life. The words of advisors, counselors, mentors, and teachers in the Pre-K – 12th grade can make a substantial impact someone’s life. I noticed the socio-economic systematic disadvantage students deal with although simply listening to a student truly can impact on a students future.
One of the students I tutored from the beginning of the year stopped showing up during the second semester. I assumed she went on medical leave or something urgent because she was a dedicated student and did not miss a day during her first semester. I assumed right.
She was on medical leave. The first day she got back she told me she had serious medical issues. Later as the days and weeks passed by she was scared and frustrated that some of her medical records were not being justified by teachers, administrators, nor advisors so she had a strong workload. Teachers did not sympathize with her as much as she thought they would since it was an emergency. She believed that weeks worth of assignments were going to be due later for her. On the contrary, the weeks worth of work were due in a short amount of time. She then realized that she was not going to make those due dates and thought she would fail a few classes. Consequently, she wanted to quit the idea of college because she believed she would not have the grades to get into college.
Dropout rates are extremely high especially for womxn of color. As someone that felt at a disadvantage by the educational system from the beginning, I was not going to let another fellow womxn of color stop her goals of getting a higher education. Therefore, I had a heart to heart conversation so she could understand that she should not give up. This conversation was last year. The summer of last year she took the whole summer to take summer classes.
“To all womxn on their way, I advise sharing your story and your resources.”
Now she is a high school graduate who will be taking classes at the local community college in the fall. This is a success story to me not because she received her diploma or because she is now going to attend community college, but because now she has the mindset of never giving up on her dreams and becoming the person and professional she wants to be through higher education. To all womxn on their way, I advise sharing your story and your resources because at the end of the day we are all womxn seeking an opportunity in this unfair system made to tailor and increase the success of wealthy men. Education is the first step to making our voices heard in different occupations that are predominantly held by men.
Consequently, if you have a younger sibling, cousin, neighbor, friend, a friends’ friend advice and advocate the importance for them to have the ability to do anything they want because they can. If the resources at public schools are missing, then you can be a resource for that young womxn that needs an older role model. Because unfortunately, many believe they cannot achieve their goals because nobody of the same background or nobody they know has gone through a similar situation and persevered. We all can help each other out through a simple piece of information you may have that someone else may not. For example, where free or relatively cheap help for the SAT test can be found.
Another method is by telling your story and how you got to where you are today because that can truly impact a young womxn that does not see that as a possibility. Also, remember that no dream is too big. Anyone can become whatever they want to be, but a strong educational support truly can help make a difference in attaining that goal. No matter the zip code anyone can achieve their goals, nevertheless; let us not forget that all educational opportunities should be available to everyone. Yes, it is “harder” to achieve our goals. Nevertheless, we are stronger and we can fight back the unequal educational system by uniting together and uplifting each other. We are young but we shall also be proud of being able to fight against our unequal opportunities.
My experience and adversities of the educational institution created by white men should not stop me from reaching my goal to become a lawyer. Although I do not know anyone from the same background that has done something similar, I know I can. The positive mindset and drive are what I passed along to my fellow former student, and I hope this story can make you make a difference in your life or someone else’s life. Zip code may matter for where you begin, but it does not determine your future. We will fight for our future and we will win because we are badass individuals that can do it all from the ground up. We determine our own future.