I attended a Catholic private school from first to third grade. We watched The West Side Story every year in our music class, attended mass as a school once week, and sported practical uniforms every day (except for the much anticipated, rare casual Friday). I remember loving it. While the facilities were small and our recess space was just a large swath asphalt, classroom sizes were manageable and there was an emphasis on community amongst students, families, and facility members.
In the fourth grade, I moved and was able to attend highly ranked public schools in an affluent school district. My graduating high school class was full of overachievers and attending a four-year university right after graduating was a bit of a norm. Seeing as I had been a bit of an academic slacker during my high school career, I decided to pursue a fresh start at a community college that was out of my locality.
I quickly realized that I had an advantage over many of my fellow community college classmates. My affluent school district provided me with the basic educational foundation and more to be successful at community college. I was able to start college-level courses almost right away and found the material workable. The primary and secondary schools that many of my community college peers had attended did not prepare them well enough to easily pursue higher education. A startling number of college students have to take remedial classes and studies have shown that this can have a detrimental impact on their path to higher education. It dawned on me that a good part of why I was able to perform so well in community college was because of my zipcode and the great school district it provided me.
According to a report done by the The Little Hoover Commission, community college administrators explained that throughout California “many recent high school graduates are entering college assuming they are ready for college-level work only to learn that they are actually unprepared because the minimum high school graduation requirements do not align with the skills students need to be college ready”*. California needs to prioritize public education to empower all of its children regardless of location, income, ethnicity, etc. One way to work towards this goal is to reform Prop. 13 and bring that increased revenue (roughly $9 billion a year) to all of the state’s K-14 schools. Public schools must become a pillar of social mobility and equality throughout the Golden state.