Posted by Amber Chang and Kathy Liang

The members of the Youth Advisory Council (YAC) were invited to participate in Youth Together’s listening circle held at Eastside Arts Alliance as part of their Listening Campaign. Youth Together is a group of passionate people who want to address educational inequities by developing multiracial youth leaders and engaging others from the school community. The purpose of their Listening Campaign is to bring light to the issues students face in their schools and communities and also create a more equitable education system in Oakland. The two YAC members, Kathy Liang and Amber Chang, were able to represent Oakland Tech students in the listening circle.

The Youth Together discussion focus group was comprised of four youth and two adult coordinators. We mainly focused on delving into the topic of the educational inequalities we experience at our schools. The fishbowl discussion was extremely informative because we got to hear from different perspectives about their experiences with attending school in Oakland. Data points from a survey that they released to Oakland youth were shared during the discussion and we were encouraged to elaborate on what our thoughts and feelings were as each data point was said. As the discussion began to divert to the topic of underfunding in our schools we all expressed concerns about how the district was handling the issues.

Our perspectives ranged from Castlemont, Skyline, and Oakland Tech. It was really interesting hearing how similar our school experiences were with the other youth there. We talked about issues such as the lack of security guard intervention in our school and the alarming number of students who are unsatisfied by school lunches. These issues are relevant to Oakland students and it’s important that our stories are being heard from the community, especially the school district. After facilitating these listening circles, Youth Together will be holding an event to report their data and conclusions to the Oakland community in June and to the district in the future. Look out on their website for updates about their campaign!

We encourage you to take the survey for the campaign if you are a student in an Oakland school. Please share it around!