Teaching to Change LA > Youth Voices > Vol. 5, Issue 1 > Electoral Politics
Electoral Politics > Features > Student Work

Photo

A Day in the Life

Tanyea Thomas is a senior at Crenshaw High School.

I am a student at Crenshaw High School, and a student at UCLA’s IDEA (Institute for Democracy, Education and Access) Summer Seminar, as well as an active community member and participant in CEJ (Coalition for Equal Justice). My focus is on developing literacy skills that help youth, such as myself, recognize their position in the world and work towards self-development and civic engagement.

I get to school around 8:00 am and hear the assistant principal yelling on a speaker box in front of the school, “Get to class! Take off those hats ladies and gentlemen!”

My day starts out by walking to school. From Crenshaw and 60th, along the way I see all kinds of things, such as kids planning ditch spots, to kids getting high before walking into the school, to kids fighting with one another for walking with the wrong hat on down the wrong street. I get to school around 8:00 a.m. and hear the assistant principal yelling on a speaker box in front of the school, “Get to class! Take off those hats ladies and gentlemen!” over and over. Morning classes are slow at Crenshaw because students don’t want to be there and teachers don’t feel that they should have to teach students that don’t want to learn in the first place.

Next is nutrition for kids. At this school it is playtime.There might be one or two fights depending on the day. Soon the assistant principal yells, ”Back to class.” The bell has rung but nobody moves. There is a lot of running to fights and throwing of water during 3rd period. My chemistry class sucks. We have no lab supplies. I love science but I don’t feel like this classroom is giving me a chance to really put forth my best effort. The English teacher got a class set of new dictionaries given by Steve Harvey. However, they’re thrown on the floor by high school students. My computer class has one set of computers and almost all the people in the school who need to use computers are using those same ones at nutrition and lunch. Everyone who needs Internet access, or just a computer to type up a report, are in one computer room so by the time I need to use it for my class, my Internet isn’t working or I’m missing work that someone decided to erase.

Sometimes it gets kind of distracting when you’re trying to write a paper and you hear the security yelling and kids fighting.

Lunch is just like nutrition, but longer and the reinforcement of the rules regarding hats continues. More fights happen because the students have more time. There’s one college advisor and she is busy dealing with the seniors, but I really need some advice on what I can do to improve my chances of getting into a UC. The bell has rung and there’s no one moving, everyone is not going to class. 5th period is empty, students are walking through the hall shouting out things in the hallway. I’m trying to listen to my teacher, but every 5 minutes he is taking care of some disclaimer problem. During the last period of the day, no one is in class and you can look outside my class room window and see about 100-150 kids outside thinking that they are having fun when they are failing their classes and throwing their life away. Sometimes it gets kind of distracting when you’re trying to write a paper and you hear the security yelling and kids fighting.

My walk home is never predictable; sometimes there’s a bike cop escort, sometimes there’s a police car escort and sometimes there’s a helicopter escort. Kids are smoking and taking things from other kids. I begin thinking, "Why are the police here and, what good are they here to do?" When I get home, I reflect on my day. I think about what I have accomplished and I can’t help but to think nothing. As I drift off to sleep to the sounds of the helicopter, I see that the day is turning into night.

What makes a good school? Every educator who wants to put their profession of teaching to use would most likely want to teach in a good school. Every parent wants their children to go to a good school. But what makes a good school? Here are some main points: Schools should be a safe environment where children can go to learn. Teacher efficacy must be present. Principals must have good management skills. There must be commitment. And parent and community interaction with the school should be present. I think that a good school is what everybody wants.

I believe that my school has youth of great character and is an asset to the world and community. I share this with you in hopes that we, as a people, will be de-institutionalized as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at tcla@gseis.ucla.edu (type Tanyea Thomas in the subject line).


Teaching to Change LA is an online journal of IDEA, UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education, & Access