The West Contra Costa Unified School District is discussing how to use the remaining money in the district's school construction bond program. New facilities will be nice, but as Richmond is the lowest-performing district in the state, what underserved students like me really need is quality teachers to prepare us for college and success in life. Growing up in Las Deltas Housing Projects, one of Richmond's toughest neighborhoods, intensely lowered the likelihood that my brother and I would attend college. Gangs, violence, drugs, murder, vacant homes, poverty, and death were everyday realities.
This broken neighborhood turned me into a tough and vulnerable individual. I faced several robberies, and literally dodged bullets. The lowest point was the night shots were fired at my house and my brother woke me up yelling my name because he thought I was dead in the upper bunk bed.
My brother attended a great public charter school in Richmond. Although he received a quality education there, he enrolled in our district high school for senior year. After the transfer, he no longer felt motivated academically, because the quality of the school was so low. He missed being challenged by his teachers and the rigor of his former school.
He enrolled at San Francisco State and, despite many struggles, graduated in 2013. On that day, he pointed to my nephews and me and said, "This is only the beginning. You guys are all next."
His words have stayed with me. My brother showed me, even though my parents only have a 3rd grade education, that a college degree is possible.