Writing Off the ‘Bad Kids’

April 8, 2016 /


By Victor Seguin

Photo via Flickr


As a young person, I always hear how important education is and how I need to do my best in school in order to succeed. But if people truly want me to be successful, then why am I not being given all the tools I need to thrive?

With technology rapidly taking over classrooms, and computers changing the way students learn, there are growing numbers of students being left behind. Unfortunately, I am one of them.

I am a senior at Yosemite Continuation High School in Merced, one of two continuation schools within the Merced Union High School District. While I’ve had a good experience here – compared to my previous school – Yosemite is still considered the ‘school no one wants to go to.’

Yosemite is a relatively small school with around 350 students. Most of the students here have had trouble with schoolwork, or have excessive absences or other challenges that get in the way of their education.

Which is why I find it ironic that students like myself, who are considered special needs, are not being given the resources we need to succeed but instead are written off as “bad kids.”

That might explain why students here are given hand-me down computers and books that regular high schools throw out. Many of the laptops have missing keys, broken screens, and batteries that do not charge.

We are also not permitted to take laptops home like students at high schools elsewhere in the county do. I’ve heard different reasons for why this is. One is that continuation students don’t have a lot of homework, so we don’t need the extra time with the computers. But how are students expected to complete assignments in the short time we have during class, just 42 minutes?

I’ve heard others say laptops should not be handed out to students because they have access to computers at the library or at home, but this is not true. Parts of Merced are very impoverished, where the average income for a family of five is just $21,000. In a lot of these areas, personal computers and access to the Internet at home are luxuries people can’t afford.

Finally, there is only one library in Merced. Situated downtown, the library is hidden behind the Courthouse and County Museum. Getting there is difficult because not many people know where it is located and our public transportation system does not serve some of the areas students live in. Many of the kids from our school come from places outside of Merced like El Nido, which is almost a two-hour school bus ride away.

Given all these things, the district cannot argue that continuation school students are treated the same and given equal opportunities when they are clearly not given access to the same resources.

It is hard for me to understand why students at continuation schools are treated differently than those who attend traditional high schools. After all, we are all students and we all go to school to learn.

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