How I pursue change at my segregated CMS school

West Charlotte student Kaycee Hailey uses a Charlotte Observer article to discuss the challenges facing West Charlotte students and the strengths needed to overcome them.

By Kaycee Hailey

Charlotte Observer, 20 November 2017

The first time I visited West Charlotte High School, I was in fourth grade. I saw run-down buildings, unruly students and exasperated teachers. I was scared. That day I promised myself that I would never go to that school again.

But at the end of eighth grade, I faced a haunting realization. I had been assigned to attend the school I so despised. There was a general stigma about West Charlotte that I bought into. But when I arrived, that belief faded away.

I am one of many students at West Charlotte who are dedicated to their coursework and work hard every day. Although students at West Charlotte face many obstacles, they still strive to achieve their best. One of those obstacles facing the kids in our community is systemic educational injustice.

CMS is a segregated district. I go to a segregated school. I see the problems within my school and know that not every school in our district is like this. In my first semester of school I saw a fellow student get handcuffed and escorted out of the cafeteria. I’ve seen teachers storm out of classrooms and quit halfway through a class. I am often advised to take more rigorous classes, such as AP courses, but few are available at my school. I have friends at other schools whose entire schedules can be filled with AP courses. It is easy to tell that teachers here are also fed up with the conditions of our school. Teachers are in and out very quickly. It frustrates me that the quality of education available to a child can depend on factors out of our control.

West Charlotte is a microcosm of a global issue. Too often, where children are born limits their educational opportunities. In some places children are barred from getting a quality education simply because there is not a strong school close enough to their home. Lack of education can trap children in the situations they were born into. Education cannot solve everything, but it can open many doors for young people.

When I think about how I can pursue answers towards the problem of systematic educational inequity, I start with what I can do to change that. I represent black youth and young black women. I view it as my responsibility to represent these groups to the best of my ability.

One of the reasons I work so hard in school is to show that I can make the best of any circumstances. I work hard to show that I am worthy of an excellent education, just as so many of my peers are. I take every opportunity I can to vocalize systematic educational inequity and my frustrations with the way things currently are. I make sure my experiences are known to those who might otherwise not understand my perspective. I also encourage my peers to work their hardest to show that we are all capable of success no matter the obstacles we face.

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