For many high school seniors the future is filled with excitement and uncertainty-- college applications, the prospect of saying goodbye to friends and family, and that occasional touch of senioritis. At Skyline High School in Oakland one student is trying to squeeze everything she possibly can into her final year. Here is a day in the energetic and jam packed life of Skyline student Hydea’ Burgess.
Skyline is one of 15 public high schools in Oakland and the only one located in the Hills. The 42-acre campus is nestled among redwoods and million dollar homes. Nearly 2,000 students attend this traditional campus and many value the diverse student body. But that wasn’t always the case.
Skyline High opened in 1961, and was almost immediately surrounded by conflict. It’s proposed attendance zone was one mile wide, ten miles long, and based entirely in the hills, which excluded students from the flatlands. This kept the school racially, as well as economically, homogenous -- despite the fact that the city’s black population nearly doubled during the previous decade.
Oakland’s Skyline High School has one of the most diverse campuses in California, with students coming from a wide range of backgrounds. That means some parents are not fluent in English, making it difficult for them to communicate with teachers and administrators. That is where the school's Family Resource Center comes in, helping to bridge the language gap with translation services.
In 2012 Skyline's Black Student Union filed a complaint charging the school with discriminating against students of color. They accused Skyline of short-shifting black students, providing lackluster support which led directly to students not graduating. A lawsuit resulted in an agreement with the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, and Skyline and the Oakland Unified School District agreed to make some serious changes. Included in those reforms was a voluntary resolution plan to oversee the disciplinary methods toward African American male students.
Oakland Unified School District spokesperson Troy Flint said that in order to make sure all students succeed, OUSD needs to target and support the most vulnerable. “By most measures African American males are performing the worst, relative to other demographic groups,” he said. That is why in 2010 the Oakland Unified School District launched its African American Male Achievement project to support young black men academically.
But students from other demographic groups could also benefit from targeted programs.