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The cards seem to always be stacked against us. From the moment we are born, we already have our lives drawn out for us, due to our parents socioeconomic standing. My mom had me at 19 years old, with a high-school degree and about a year and a half of community college under her belt. We lived in the rundown area of town, where there were gangs on the streets and fights breaking out at night. You live where you can afford, and the less money you pay in rent, the worse your neighborhood seems to be. That includes the public schools you are forced to attend. Public schooling is broken up by district, which is just a school system’s way of breaking up the less fortunate neighborhoods from the high-class neighborhoods. Where your parents are able to afford to live, determines the type of education you are about to base your foundations of learning on.
In this sense, I was lucky, my mom fought for me to go to a better school than I was supposed to be enrolled in. I was driven 15 minutes away each morning to a predominantly white neighborhood where I was one of five kids in my 30-student class who seemed to be a different shade than everyone else.
When you look different than others in the room, you tend to gravitate toward the people who remind you of yourself. And so, the trend begins in a new generation. Kids become friends with kids who look like them. They then go to high school together, where people are separated by skin tone, because now that there are multiple elementary schools from different neighborhoods being thrown into this big place of a high school; they feel confined to the same people they spent the past six or eight years of their life with. And because your parents have nothing more than a high-school degree, what motivation will you have to go on to higher education? Even if you wanted to try, you still need to find some way to pay for the hundreds of thousands of dollars that come with attending a university.
Though society has taught me that asking for help is weak minded and low, I am here to bring attention to this very present issue. Children have the right to the same standard of public education as their peers in town. Just because you have a less-than-ideal living situation does not mean you are allowed to be completely ruled out at the age of six when you’re just a kindergartener. As a town, Santa Barbara needs to have the same standard of public education across the board at all elementary schools. I urge the people in power to continue to work toward our town’s issue of letting the public’s socioeconomic background determine our youth’s right to education.
But, to my fellow students, it is not too late for us. Though there is a trend that has been going on for generations, in order for there to be a change in your family history, someone needs to break the recurring trend. And so, I hope you have the stamina to be the one to break that trend. Fight for your right to a better education, work harder than your peers. Know that though some classmates are being handed tutors, private coaches, and access to materials that you may not have, you still have your work ethic — which will continue to grow. I know your dreams may seem so far out of reach, but I promise you, it will feel so much better once you’ve achieved those goals knowing that you reached them on your own.