“Are you sure? You know there are many students who have been studying for this test since last year and the summer.”
These were the words from my guidance counselor that rang in my head because like many students, I had some sort of hope that I could have a seat in a specialized high school. My guidance counselor seemed concerned, but I confirmed without giving much thought into it. However, I wish she would’ve been more honest.
For me, that’s what disappointed me the most: not being told the whole truth; being left behind.
Not being told that because of my economic status, I can’t have any sort of hope for receiving a quality education. Not being told that many students that look like me – Latinx and black – barely get accepted to a specialized high school. That at Stuyvesant, my dream school, only 3% during that school year were latinx and only 1% were black.
It is always us, latinx and black students, who are left behind because either many of us aren’t encouraged or are limited because we are underestimated in the work we can do. So you’re telling me that countless nights of doing homework at 1 am because I didn’t have a proper desk to work in during my middle school years isn’t hard work?
A few times a week for a couple of weeks, I would approach the algebra 1 teacher to ask for help with the math section of the SHSAT because of the fear of being left behind or not being good enough to score high for this exam.
Unfortunately, little did I know that I was already behind. This was math that I should’ve understood except I didn’t because although I was one of the top students at my middle school, I didn’t have enough knowledge. I was never encouraged by an adult to strive to go somewhere such as Stuyvesant or Brooklyn Tech. Instead, we were told to just transfer to a regular public high school.
I didn’t know what the “good schools” were. I didn’t even know how to analyze the public high school book properly. I didn’t even understand what a zoned school was, but explain to me why are there still zoned schools? Name it for what it is. Privilege. It is a privilege to live on the Upper East Side, Chelsea, or Hell’s Kitchen where families know of the schools that have access to unlimited resources that will never be in the hands of students that look like me if this system continues.
NYC school system: explain to me what does hard work look like to you? Because if it isn’t forcing more extracurriculars or attempting to get higher test scores in order to be even considered for a seat at a high school or college, then I don’t know what is. But what I do know is that you are limiting opportunities for many students of color by making abundant excuses.
Do me a favor and don’t look at me with pity — I’ve heard several stories worse than mine that I would consider myself privileged — look at the upcoming generations with hopes.
I’m a latina student. My name is Brianna Marquez. But I am 216529156 to the public school system.