By Jacibe Gameros, Castlemont High School student
Castlemont High School needs more Latino staff and teachers so that students can relate more to teachers and staff while at school.
This year, there are 36 teachers at Castlemont and only 9% (three full-time and one part-time) are Latina or Latino. This makes it so that students feel like they aren’t represented. While this is better than in past years, it is still not enough.
Ana Gallegos, an art teacher at Castlemont, agrees there should be more Latino teachers on campus.
“It’s important for students to see who they can relate to,” she said. There needs to be balance, “in terms of more diversity, more Latina/o teachers from grades K-12,” she said.
In the 2011-2012 school year, there were zero Latino teachers at Castlemont, according to the Ed-Data website of the California Department of Education.
Having few Latino teachers makes students feel like they are not represented and it makes it more difficult for non-English speakers to get through school.
Fifty-four percent of students going to Castlemont are Latina or Latino. Of these, 19 percent speak Spanish as their first language.
Isela Garcia, a 16-year-old student at Castlemont, said she doesn’t think there are enough Latino teachers at Castlemont. She believes there should be more.
“Having more Latino teachers makes me feel more represented and proud,” said Garcia. “It [would be] not just helpful, but also because having Latino teachers shows positives in our race and (dis)proves negatives to those who think Latinos are not capable of doing anything good.”
According to Norma Liliana Verdugo, a Spanish teacher at Castlemont, there should be more Latino teachers on campus.
“I feel like our Latino kids relate to me, so that’s very important,” she said. It is especially important, she said, “that I can communicate with their parents. Sometimes that’s hard to do if you do not speak the language.”
Find links to the complete “Education Voices: Youth seek identity” series HERE.
Ms. Gameros reported and wrote this story while participating in the Oakland Local Education Voices program in collaboration with Youth Uprising and Castlemont High School. The program was funded by The California Endowment. Find links to the complete series HERE. The stories also appear on Castlemont’s CastleCrier newspaper. Education Voices instructors Shaka Redmond of Youth Uprising and Irene Florez, Barbara Grady and Jon Leckie of Oakland Local congratulate Jacibe for her good work.