OPINION: Stockton Students Will Save Stockton Education

Yellow Line

When I was five, my mother placed my name in the lottery system for my eventual elementary school, praying I would get in. Years later, I learned why my mother didn’t put me in my neighborhood school.

Many Stockton schools have bad reputations, and I’ve always suspected this was due to poor district leadership. Stockton Unified’s school board is well known for its dysfunction, with board meetings turning into shouting matches and rumors of corruption leading to high staff turnover. My suspicions were confirmed when I participated in the Education Project fellowship hosted by The Organizing and Leadership Academy (TOLA).

As a fellow, I surveyed Stockton residents’ to gain their opinions about the SUSD school board. Listening to community voices, I concluded that most Stocktonians were dissatisfied with how the board runs schools. I learned that the students of neighboring school districts performed better academically than SUSD students, and only two SUSD schools met the state average for reading and math proficiency rates. I was deeply troubled by this information.

Compelled to act, I organized a peaceful rally with my classmate outside the SUSD office. At the rally, I presented grievances and a list of demands. My co-organizer and I directed attendees to march around the building and chant to the board members inside to maximize impact. The rally was very well attended and garnered the attention of the local news outlets. The board remained silent, but the people were heard loud and clear that day.

No one is coming to save us, so we must start the process to save ourselves.

I believe that to spark community change, you must create conditions that cause people to feel seen, relate to people, and be attentive to the issues that influence their decisions. Additionally, people need access to accurate information to make informed decisions. Sharing information on a broad scale can at times prove challenging. Using grassroots mobilization and organizing strategies, social media, and other technological means can help ensure people are informed.

When empowered with information, people can make decisions that serve their best interests, including electing the appropriate representatives. Perhaps knowing more about issues will inspire community members to assume political roles.

I am wholeheartedly committed to seeing Stockton’s education improve. I plan to further my studies beyond high school and then return, a college degree in hand, ready to continue the fight. Stockton students deserve better.

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