For as long as I can remember I have always favored English classes over any other. The amount of learning and thought that is provoked inside of an English class is extremely rewarding, however as each year passes, I find myself feeling so unfulfilled and often cheated by the public school system- specifically with the lack of variety there is in the pre-selected reading list we are required to read.
Public school is meant to present an equal opportunity for each student to learn, no matter their personal background, but as is, there is no real diverse literature presented to us that we could usefully apply to the world we are faced with each day outside of campus.
There are many places we could start in hopes to bring about change within each public school in VUSD, but I chose to start where all the voices of unique individuals have been muffled. For decades, change has been halted, inevitability hurting the outcomes of every students’ chance to learn.
As of the 2019-2020 school year, the senior English classes have switched to the ERWC curriculum that focuses on a higher level of reading in hopes of better preparing students for college. ERWC mainly revolves around non-fiction texts that stem from real life experiences and events. However,The Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller is the one approved fiction book students read this year, which follows the life of a family of 4, and their journey to a happy life measured by their financial successes.What is more present in the book besides the actual plot, is the stereotypical roles for each character. For example, Linda Loman is a typical housewife who waits on her husband as much as he expects it. This particular book was written as a play and first performed in 1949, which explains the demeaning manner in which women are portrayed throughout this book. As we read the book in class, I questioned if the actual message ingrained in the minds of students was the opposite of what was intended when the book was adopted into the curriculum, due to the constant jokes on serious topics presented in the book such as mental health and women’s rights.
The newest addition to the junior English college prep classes reading list is Into The Wild by Jon Krakuer, which was published in 1996, 24 years ago. Has our school district assumed that for 24 years the dynamics within a classroom have remained the same?
In all seriousness, the books we read are supposed to advocate for each unique individual, whether it be for their ethnic and religious background, or sexual orientation, so whenyou’re inside of a classroom youfeel accounted for but, as of right now that is not the case. The novel To Kill a Mockingbird is the only voice of the African American population, yet it was published in 1960 and written by Harper Lee, a Caucasian woman who, for 60 years, is apparently the only voice worthy of speaking for a whole community of people whose experiences are drastically different from her own. In its time To Kill a Mockingbird was a sensation because its conversation on rape and racial inequality in an era where those subjects were considered taboo however, today I consider the award winning novel a tragic attempt by our school system in creating an inclusive classroom environment.
I often wonder why we aren’t being pushed to see all sides of the world. Why aren’t we being encouraged to question our own educational system more often when we feel things are being looked over? Because frankly, the Ventura Unified School District could do much better.