With more than 20 years in the trenches with teen journalism I still get teary-eyed when I read a note like the one here from a teacher at Locke High School in South L.A. L.A. Youth Editors Mike Fricano and Laura Lee visited her class last week and plan to continue weekly visits. She brought a few students to our Saturday editorial meeting.
Locke has been in turmoil since it opened in 1967. It’s one of the lowest achieving schools in California. Racial tension between black and Latino students brought police in riot gear to the campus to break up fights in May 2008. Faculty and administrative turnover is a revolving door. On September 11, 2007, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) approved a motion to turn over control of Locke High School to Green Dot Public Schools, an outside charter management organization.
“ I just wanted to say thank you for letting me crash the Saturday meeting. As a teacher who has committed my life to working in some of the most disenfranchised urban communities, I have only worked in severely segregated schools. My experience bringing students to the Saturday meeting and hearing such generative discourse representing students from diverse walks of life was inspiring beyond words. It made me think a lot about the importance of integrated schools. My students rarely get an opportunity to interact with folks who are not Black or Latino, nor do they often have the chance to interact with young people who are not living in poverty.
At the risk of sounding overly romantic, I think that LA Youth has the unique opportunity to bring a democratic experience to youth that they are not getting in school. What a rare and sacred thing in today's society.
Thank you so much for making the effort to include my students in your
community. I think they felt intimidated, yet empowered by the experience. It means a lot to them and to our entire community! In fact, Frank's mother has told everyone she knows that her baby is going to be published in a newspaper. For a student like Frank, this is one of the few times in his life that he feels a sense of academic identity. This is why his mother could not believe that he was writing a piece for LA Youth. I am grateful for your time and interest in their stories.”