LINCOLN IS WORKING TO CLOSE THE RACE AND CLASS GAP IN AP CLASSES
By: Olive Savoie
Student Angel Romero finishes up some AP Physics homework.Photo By: Olive Savoie
Hotly debated in our society today is the topic of academic opportunity: who has it and who doesn’t? How can our school systems justify giving access to some students and not others?
School systems have historically discriminated against minorities (students of color and low-income students). In 2019, our school systems are no longer so overtly discriminatory, but they are still deeply rooted in racism and classism, classifying it as a systemic issue. AP classes in particular, have a history of accepting predominantly White and Asian students. Placement into these rigorous and demanding classes may require tutoring, a privilege many students do not have access to. Furthermore, the bias of teachers, social capital, and family resources also tend to influence students’ acceptance into AP classes and their success.
Unfortunately, the demographics most affected by these disadvantages are black, brown and low-income students. Because of this, these students generally don’t receive the same opportunities for a higher-level education as White, Asian, and higher-income students, further perpetuating the racism and classism that exists in the school system. This systematic oppression affects all school systems, and Lincoln is no different. However, an exciting new step is being taken to close the race and class gap here at Lincoln with a new program called Equal Opportunity Schools, or EOS. The program is meant to encourage black and brown students to join AP classes and to support their success in these classes.
Lincoln student Angel Romero describes her experience of being one of the few students of color in her AP classes as, “feeling like a fish out of water.” She says she feels “‘unwanted’ in those [AP] classes, because there’s a certain demographic of people that take up the majority of classes, and it makes others feel unwelcomed. No student of color I know would ever feel comfortable joining AP classes.”
Data from the Lincoln IT Department reveals that 6% of students are Black and 21% are Latino at Lincoln. Of the whole student body, 40% of the Lincoln student body takes AP classes. Of that 40%, only 3.4% of AP students are Black, and only 12% are Latino. This data proves the lack of racial diversity in our AP classes, one of the reasons Romero states she feels out of place.
“With more support, they’d be more comfortable joining these classes. It’s the school’s obligation to support students in any way they can and push them to succeed”, says Romero of the students of color she knows.
Equal Opportunity Schools (or EOS) is working to bring students the support they need to succeed. Their website, “ecoschools.org”, states their mission: “to ensure students of all backgrounds have equal access to America’s most academically intense high school programs—and particularly that low-income students and students of color have opportunities to succeed at the highest levels.”
But just how will they accomplish such a huge goal? Their plan is to implement a new way of identifying “AP-ready” students. “We start by working with districts and schools to create a demographic breakdown of who is taking AP and who is not,” states Alison Gazarek, Regional Director of EOS. “After reviewing that data, we survey all the students and staff in the school to collect their perceptions of the school environment, their career plans and plans for college, and how challenged and supported they feel in their current classes. We also collect data on each individual student to identify students who may not have the highest GPA or test scores, but have other indicators that tell us that they will do well once they decide to take the challenge of an AP class. Once we’ve identified those students, we provide that list to the school staff and work with them to create a plan to reach out to those students, and help them understand that they not only belong in AP, but they can succeed there.” EOS is also working with other public high schools around San Francisco, those being Wallenberg and George Washington.
This new plan was implemented here at Lincoln, and 48 students have been identified as “AP-ready” and are being encouraged to apply for AP classes for the 2019-2020 school year.
This new program, although highly praised by teachers and staff for its work to include minorities who previously have been marginalized and overlooked, raises some questions about whether putting students who have never before taken AP classes into AP classes would be more of a disservice than a positive opportunity.
“We should be preparing students for college regardless of if they are in AP or general education classes. We can’t ‘ghetto-ize’ non-AP students,” said Lincoln’s AP Literature and Composition teacher Sara Falls. “What I mean by ‘ghetto-izing’ is pushing gen-ed students off to the side with a non-rigorous schedule, making them less prepared for college.”
Falls is an avid supporter of racial equality in education and a supporter of the EOS program’s work with Lincoln. She believes that learning to be “college-ready” should begin in freshman year, so that students aren’t disserviced by being placed into rigorous classes without previous experience. However, presence alone in AP and honors classes, regardless of the grade the student receives, is said to increase readiness for college more than a gen-ed class, according to the Equal Opportunity Schools website. “Too often, students are not identified for AP because they do not seem engaged in their on-level classes or do not reach the school’s GPA cut-off,” explained Gazarek. “Sometimes that low GPA can be connected to a student feeling disengaged in their current classes; a bad freshman year due to circumstances outside their control; or just a feeling that they do not ‘belong’ in AP, whether because of their racial identity, or how they perceive themselves as a student. We want to help staff and students uncover that for some students, these things just don’t tell the whole story.”
Accordingly, EOS is providing teachers and staff the tools to bring opportunity and encouragement starting in freshman year to marginalized students, who, they hope, will succeed in AP classes and go into college more prepared than if they hadn’t taken AP classes.
Diversity and inclusion is what EOS is striving for, and the implementation of this new program is an important tool to reach that goal. With the EOS program underway, Gazarek hopes that all students, including those at Lincoln, will “take the risk to see that challenging themselves academically will lead to even better and brighter things.”
STUDENTS AND STAFF COMPETE FOR THE TITLE OF MOST FIT AT LINCOLN
By: Rocio Perez
These are staff members and students who have participated in Health Idol. Who will be the next winner?
Health idol is a competition that started at our very own school. It’s a community fitness building program that has been part of Abraham Lincoln High School for the past twelve years. The staff members and students compete to see who’s the healthiest person in school.
This competition has gotten national attention from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and the California Health Centers Association award. Several students presented the program as first ever youth presenters. Giving the chance to challenge and improve themselves through competition.
Health idol has helped people improve themselves while also builds community in our school. Maybe eat healthier and be more active. Students feel like they are a part of something.
Ian Enriquez from the Wellness Center said,” Personally, joining the competition myself got me to start going to the gym and become more mindful of my diet. So, thanks to the program I exercise more and eat healthier than what I used to. Also, this program has taught me a lot about people and the Lincoln community, which helps me do my job a little better.”
Enriquez also said,“ I think this is fun to challenge yourself. It is fun to try to beat your professionals. I have also seen people realize their potential and maintain a more rounded view of themselves.”
Building community is also a strength in this program.
“Over the years, I know of competing teachers and students who have strengthened their relationships by either pushing or supporting each other in the competition.”
Sam Whitfield a senior who participates also said,” Health idol has helped me be a little bit more athletic because typically I don’t do any activities. It's a good social experience since so many people do it. It’s an easy way to meet new people.”
DAMAGES DURING BOAT DANCE MAY AFFECT NEXT YEAR
By: Alisa Romagnoli
Despite the damage, students still managed to have a good time throughout the night. Photo Courtesy of: Joel Balzer
There has been numerous rumors regarding this year’s recent boat dance including that various illegal paraphernalia was found, damages were caused by students to the boat, and that the dance itself will be canceled next year.
School dean, Joel Balzer, and student body activities coordinator, Samantha Sherman, clear up boat dance hearsay and gave official insights on what exactly happened and what the consequences may be for the future of this dance..
When first being asked if he knew any important information regarding the dance, Balzer replied, “Well, I know there was a significant amount of damages done to the boat and that the damages done [to the boat] started off being unintentional due to a design flaw in the ceiling.”
Balzer went on to explain how Lincoln students were falling because of the boat’s turbulence and that taller students were holding onto the ceiling for support.
“The way the ceiling is designed is frankly kind of crappy. But early in the dance, the problem was addressed to students, and they were told to please stop doing this, but they didn’t stop.”
According to Balzer, each ceiling tile would probably cost anywhere from 30 to 60 dollars, maybe even more, but since damages were done by Lincoln students, they would probably charge a couple hundred for each of the 13 tiles being that it was a violation to the boat’s policy . If each tile is $200 to replace, the expenses add up to $2600 total, which is about half the cost of the whole dance.
Balzer sums it up by stating that students continued to hold onto the ceiling even after boat turbulence had passed. “I don’t think students needed to hold onto the ceiling after the first quarter of the dance. So to me, there was intentional destruction of property.”
Sherman explains how by using a different boat company this year (Red & White Fleet) with a greater and stricter amount of regulations, Lincoln staff might not have been so prepared to deal with repercussions if the boat was misused.
She also said, “Blue & Gold’s ceiling is a different, more flexible material, and so during Lincoln dances, kids are more used to holding the ceiling, tapping the ceiling, but in doing so for the Red & White fleet it was just completely different [material], and when they tapped it and moved it to support themselves, because it was really rocky on the boat, it created damages.”
Sherman also states, “I don’t think people were being malicious in trying to create damages; I think they were doing the exact same thing they were used to doing but with a different result.”
Regarding money, Sherman verifies that the cost for the damages has already been paid with money coming out of ticket sales.
“If we are going to spend the amount of money that we spent on this dance, we can do so way more comfortably with way more people in a ‘on-the-ground’ establishment where we wouldn’t have as many limitations, and we can open it up to way more people and have it be a different event.”
Sherman describes how she feels it is a loss for the senior and junior classes, who had to spend sufficient amounts of time selling boat dance tickets, to not get any profit from the sales, which were going towards prom, including decorations, deposit, and more.
“It’s sad, and it makes me sad for their lost effort, but it also makes me want to do something that will result in a different outcome,” says Sherman.
As of now, both boat companies still want to work with the Lincoln community, but Sherman says the Lincoln staff are concerned with the safety of taking 350 teenagers where she cannot guarantee they will be respectful listeners and follow the rules of the boat. Sherman says she has experienced an overall uneasiness about people not being safe, heightened even more this year due to the boat and it’s logistics.
LINCOLN’S JROTC PROGRAM PASSES BOTH THE ACCREDITATION INSPECTION AND THE RISK OF PROBATION
By: Savinie Lin
Student Angel Romero finishes up some AP Physics homework.
The JROTC program has been a part of the Lincoln community for a long time. Known for its teams such as the Exhibition Drill Team, the Flag Drill Team, and Drum Corps, the program has also been noted as a Physical Education class and elective. But the program faces the risk of probationand discontinuation of the program with the accreditation inspection if they failed.
The inspection allows the higher headquarters of the overall JROTC program to evaluate Lincoln’s program. This determines whether or not the program is following regulations and is providing beneficial and meaningful lessons for the students. The JPA inspection typically occurs every three years, and if a program is beyond successful in their inspection, their next inspection is held in six years.
JPA is handled in two different categories: In-Ranks inspection and the briefings. The former are uniform inspections in which military recruiters determine whether or not the students are wearing their uniforms properly, understand the different pieces of the uniform, and understand what they are learning in their classes. The In-Ranks inspection took place on the courtyard and was originally planned for March 15 but moved to March 19th due to the Brotherhood Sisterhood Assembly.
“Staff has prepared a major inspection day [on February 22], where students wore their uniforms for the whole day,” says junior Steven Hum, a member of the JROTC student staff, explains how the program is preparing for the inspection.
The briefings took place on March 22 and are where the inspectors interview ten random students about what they have learned through a Cadet Portfolio. This portfolio contains their lesson plans, their development over the years in JROTC for continuing students, and their goals. The rest is handled by the JROTC student staff, who explain their different positions in the program, their self-service learning project, and their continuous learning project where they explain what the Lincoln JROTC program would like to improve.
“The instructors assist us in any way we need them to, but the main reason is to teach students in leadership positions responsibility. The inspectors want to see what the students can do, not the instructors,” explains senior Leanna Yip, who is the Battalion Commander — the head of Lincoln’s JROTC program. “I’m also in charge of one of the presentations being held called the Battalion Continuous Improvement Project which demonstrates what we as a program are contributing to our school.”
However, if an inspection goes poorly, the program must go under inspection the next year and the JROTC teams may be on “probation.”
This year, all the SFUSD schools with a JROTC program are preparing for the “JROTC Program for Accreditation” inspection. If Lincoln were to fail the inspection, it won’t affect the rest of the Brigade — the San Francisco subdivision of JROTC. However, if several schools fail or perform poorly in the inspection, it’ll raise suspicion about whether or not the SFUSD subdivision is following protocol. In 2016, during the last inspection, Lincoln lost the Honor Unit with Distinction award that cadets were able to wear on their uniforms, but the students of this year hope to pass the inspection to gain that recognition and place it on their uniforms.
“If we perform very poorly it’s possible we will get placed on probation and it’s required we get re-inspected again next year,” Colonel George Ishikata explains. “Though [we] lost the Honor Unit with Distinction award in 2016, we didn’t perform so badly that we needed to be re-inspected in the following year.”
“I’m graduating this year, but at the same time I don’t wanna pass [the inspection] just for myself,” said Yip. “This program has been a big part of my high school life and the things I’ve experienced are unforgettable. I want this program to continue for the underclassmen and give them a chance to make the memories I have.”
But with quick results, the Lincoln JROTC program successfully passed the inspection. Though everyone in the program weren’t able to receive the Honor Unit with Distinction Award, those who have briefed were given the awards for their work.
BATHROOM VIDEO PROVOKES QUESTIONS ABOUT SEX, SAFETY, AND SOCIAL MEDIA
By: Zev Curiel-Friedman
As a result of the incident the gender-neutral bath-room was reverted to a womens restroom.Photo By: Zev Curiel-Friedman
Teenagers have sex. That's a fact, whether people want to think about it or not. However, when teens’ sexual activities travel onto campus, issues can arise. Recently, multiple students were recorded having sex in the gender-neutral bathroom, and the video was posted to social media. The video spread like wildfire, being screen-recorded and shared amongst students within mere minutes of its release. Within the hour, teachers had already seen it and notified administrators and deans.
School administration was unable to fully comment about the specific incident because “it concerns a particular student or set of students who are minors,” said Dean Joel Balzer.
Balzer did express, however, that the incident could have very serious ramifications, saying, “It's obvious that it is a crime, but what kind of crime is it? That's what makes it really scary.”
Principal Shari Balisi also said that multiple students involved “are not here” anymore.
In theory, under California Penal Code Section 261.5, statutory rape is simply engaging in sexual intercourse with a minor who is under the age of 18, meaning that even if the sex is “consensual,” because both of the students are under 18, they don’t have the legal ability to give consent.
In addition, according to California Penal Code Section 647(J) the non-consensual recording of individuals having sex is a felony, along with simply having possession of the video, according to California Penal Section 311 -- which in this case would be considered child pornography due to the participants being minors.
“Not only a felony,” Balzer sternly said, “but one that would be prosecuted.”
He continues, “For this incident to actually have positive meaning it needs to be turned to a learning moment.”
The incident has raised questions in the community about whether Lincoln is providing adequate sex education for its students or giving them resources to navigate the world of social media.
Even Balzer admits that “...there is even less conversation now than when I was in high school, not just about sex but about the power dynamic.”
With the rise of the #MeToo movement, the idea of consent has come into the spotlight more than ever before. Consent, in addition to the many other nuances of sex, is something that the Wellness Center is trying to educate students about.
“Whenever students come to the Wellness Center for condoms,” Nurse Genevieve Evenhouse says, “I always check in with students and ask if they know how to use it, and I talk about consent and communicating with a partner, and that if the partner isn't comfortable than that means no.”
In reality, Evenhouse says that each week only around four students come to get protection, and oftentimes they are too embarrassed to talk about it.
The only real time outside of health class that there is any amount of sex education is during advisory visits. “As the Wellness Center, we usually do visit advisories with YOW’s (Youth Outreach Workers) to do condom education, but it is not in all advisories, so we rely on health class,” Evenhouse notes.
Although health is a required course for SFUSD students that touches on issues around sex and substance abuse, and at Lincoln is taught by Kristy Erickson--who Balzer says is “a walking example of how education makes things safer”--the system is still flawed.
As Balisi notes, “Kids would rather just take it online and don't take it that seriously.”
Evenhouse says that “[YOW visits] only [happen] once a year, and I don't think that that's enough. I think that there needs to be more conversation happening about appropriate behavior. Sexuality is a part of us, but it has to be in a time and space that is not putting the individuals who are doing it at risk.”
As a result of the incident, the gender-neutral bathroom--which, when opened, was seen as a pillar of change and acceptance for the LGBTQ community--has been changed back to a girl’s restroom.
The reversion of the inclusive restroom has upset members of the LGBTQ community, as it had provided a safe space where transgender and non-binary students could comfortably use the restroom.
President of the GSA club, senior Olive Savoie said, “I feel deeply disappointed in the school's decision to revert the gender-neutral bathroom back into a women's bathroom. It is certainly not a ‘solution’ to the problem of teens misusing school property.”
She continues, “The school’s decision sends the message that their care for providing a safe space for LGBTQ people is conditional and that LGBTQ youth’s safety is a lesser priority than others.”
The bathroom that had previously been denoted as the gender neutral restroom was in a camera-blind spot, which made it impossible for administration to see what was going on surrounding the restroom throughout the incident.
Balisi says that “We’re probably going to put it [gender-neutral restroom] back, but we wanted to find a place that there were cameras because if anything happens again then, you know…”
Looking back on the decision to get rid of the gender neutral restroom and the negative ramifications that came along with it, Balisi said, “Everyone knew what happened in that gender-neutral restroom. And after the incident that happened, all of a sudden we forget that we had something good going on with gender-neutral for kids that would need a restroom like that. That got overshadowed with what happened.”
Lincoln's administration didn't acknowledge the incident or the subsequent changes on campus in an email to parents, teachers, or students, in part because Balisi thought, “The message that we want to convey is going to be overshadowed by the incident because it is a very delicate situation.”
Still, Balisi is looking to make positive changes to better address issues around sex and how to use social media better at Lincoln, saying that she is in the process of meeting with people to initiate discussions. “I want to meet with Peer Resources and figure out what we are going to do in these next two months and even at the beginning of the school year as a reminder of how to best utilize advisory amongst other things.”
Ultimately, the administration’s task is building a community that is stronger, more informed, and more able to deal with issues like this one by using better judgment and common sense. The task won’t be easy.
“Times are changing and we need to figure out what works well now for students,” says Balisi. “How can you build confidence in a student so that they can stand up for themselves and not feel like they are going to get yelled at by another kid? How can we build that confidence?”
As young adults becoming more independent, we as high school students are constantly dealing with issues surrounding our identities, sexualities, and morals. In the end, our choices in how we navigate these issues will shape who we are, what we value, and how we as people, a community, and as of right now, a high school, are perceived. Moving forward, the community can learn from incidents like this by asking ourselves what we can do to help shape Lincoln into the school that we want it to be.