I’m a senior at Serra High, and I just came across this article today. I was concerned after my teacher sat us down and discussed San Diego Unified School District’s plans for our school. Several teachers, a lot of them being mine, had received pink slips. Instead of cutting the ineffective teachers, who don’t even teach, they’re cutting the teachers who actually do teach, because of seniority. What about credentials, and scores? Can we really just say that seniority rules over effective learning? I understand that the district is low on money, and we’re kind of running into a wall here, but is this really the best way to handle our education?

As a student, I think sitting in a class of any more than twenty-five is terrifying. I would be so concerned with my grades, and whether or not my teacher was actually even checking to see if I’m getting things right. I want to go to college with something in my head. I already feel like I’ve learned absolutely nothing in the classes I take now, and to think they’re going as far as to reduce the teachers and make the class sizes bigger is crazy. I might not be there to experience it, but I feel that colleges might think my school is a joke. Even I think this is getting ridiculous. Not only are they getting rid of the teachers, but nurses, and some counselors as well. I don’t understand why it’s so hard to change things. In the past, when the people didn’t like something, they changed it! Can’t we do the same thing? I feel like I have no say, like no matter how hard I try, nothing I say will reach the ears of those I want to hear my thoughts. There has to be a better way!

It may seem childish, and I’ll take any trash that’s thrown my way for saying so, but can’t we do fundraisers or something? Even if it’s as small as a dollar from everyone who cares? Wouldn’t that chop off a portion of our money problem? Cutting the educational programs, sports and clubs will only cause a bigger dilemma among the students. Isn’t there any way to stand up for something else? I don’t want to see this happen. I don’t want teachers to lose their jobs, or education to get worse. I don’t even think the district cares about education right now! The school breaks its back to get students to school, to ensure they get paid, but if someone doesn’t want to learn, and is only there to disrupt the class, can’t they just leave? I’m tired of the people in my class who aren’t there to do their work. They do absolutely nothing but cause problems for the people who do care about their education. So, why does our school force them to be there? One of my teachers told me recently, that the payment the district gets from having a student in class that does nothing, is the exact same of that the district gets from a straight-A student who takes all AP classes. Why does this sound so corrupt? Why can’t we solve this problem?

Everything comes down to money, and I can’t stand it. Celebrities with money don’t go to jail, businesses cover scandals with money, money funds innovation… what about us? We’re being born into a society where we can’t do anything, and most of us have no money. We read about America’s glory days, about a government run by the people, where we can be free to make our own choices. How can we make any choices when it isn’t up to us to make? The new generations, including my own and those following, are supposed to pick up the pieces where they fall, and build, but how can we build from the mess that’s been thrown at our feet? Instead of firing people, shouldn’t we be paying off debt, or pushing education’s importance to a higher standard? Is this really the best we can do? America the Great, so grand, so wonderful. From where I see things, I can only see America crumbling down, falling behind the other nations. I’ll be honest, this is a real problem, and I have not even the slightest clue how to fix it. I’m probably not the first to feel like they are trapped in a corner, but I feel like no other students in the school really care. My teacher told us to tell anyone we wanted about this, and I asked if I could call my mom. I really wanted to tell her what was going on, and how they wanted to hide the truth. One of the students then remarked, “What can you do?”

What can I do? I sat outside for a few moments, wondering if I really was as helpless as he said. What can I do, for the generations in line behind me? What could I do for the teachers who taught me the very important lessons I treasure? What could I, a mere senior in a high school of students who felt too powerless, do anything to help? It was that moment, I realized, no matter what I say, nothing will change. I could get all of these kids to want to fight this, but it wouldn’t matter one bit. Would it? Can I do anything for anyone as I am? It was that question that flustered me the most. I suddenly felt very foolish. My stomach churned with that feeling of inevitable anxiety. I felt like a cage had dropped around Serra, and there was nothing I could do. I sat through that class, and the ones following it, thinking of what I could possibly do to change things as they were. Nothing came to mind. I was angry, and I still am. It’s like running on the track, trying to keep up with the others. I’m running out of breath, so I slow down, and fall behind. I want to pass them, and I can’t. Then this terrible mindset falls around me, I think I’m too powerless to surpass them, and then I give up.

But one thing I’ve learned from the years I’ve experienced in high school, is that I’m tired of giving up. I’m tired of feeling so inferior to the people who can so easily, and what almost seems to be naturally, tell me where my place is. I feel like this country as a whole is being guided by something else. We’re the puppets, and someone else is holding the strings. So, what are my options? Is it really so impossible to get out of this? Is the hole too deep to climb out of?

I know that what I’ve said really doesn’t really assist the problem, but I can’t help but feel voiceless. I want someone to read this, just so I can feel like my feelings were taken into account. I don’t know if I as a student can do anything, but if anyone had an idea, I’d love to get involved. I don’t want to stand by and watch this happen. With this being my last year in high school, I don’t want to be the class that barely scrapes by in time to avoid this wave of problems, and I sure don’t want to leave it to be dealt with by the generations behind ours either.

Sierra McGivney is a senior at Serra High.

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Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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