Radio Free Richmond has solicited the viewpoints of students, teachers, administrators and community activists to give a broad perspective on whether the Richmond City Council should negotiate with Chevron to amend the language in the Community Investment Agreement that created and funds The Richmond Promise scholarship program. Throughout the week RFR will post brief commentaries on this important issue.
Rodnia Parker, 12th Grade, Salesian High School
My name is Rodnia Parker and I attend Salesian College Preparatory. I'm a senior here, and this is my fourth year attending this school.
For my entire life I've been a resident of Richmond and attended public schools in Richmond.
When I heard about the Richmond Promise I thought this will be a wonderful opportunity for me to help further my education, but then I found out that since I attend Salesian that I am not eligible for the scholarship, and I asked why? Why shouldn't I get the same opportunity as other students who live in Richmond?
They’re taking an opportunity away from me because I was blessed enough to attend Salesian. Many students that attend Salesian—or any private school—don’t have enough money to attend college on their own. They rely on scholarships and financial aid to help them. I'm one of those students. All I ask is to treat me equally with all the other students who live in Richmond. Just because I attend a private school doesn't mean I'm wealthier or poorer than another person. It's a Richmond Promise.
Izabel Rodriguez, 12th Grade, John F. Kennedy High School
I know that Chevron is giving the City $35 million to allow kids to go to college, and I know that the longer you’ve been in the District the more money you can get, so not every student is treated fairly. I also know that the Council is leaning towards focusing on community college students.
As for private school students, if their parents can afford to pay tuition to the private high school, do they really need the help that the Promise offers?
I believe, though, that it should be given fairly and equally to every student who lives within the Richmond city limit.
They should treat all of the kids in Richmond equally and we should all have equal access to it regardless of the school we go to.
I think it’s unfair for them to think, Oh, wow! I wish I was in public school so I could get this assistance. Everyone in Richmond needs help, especially when it comes to going to college.
Melissa Garibay, 12th Grade, Making Waves Academy
My name is Melissa Garibay and I am a Richmond resident. I am currently in 12th grade at Making Waves Academy Public Charter School.
Often, as I do my homework I hear sirens of an ambulance as someone is being rushed to the hospital. Every day as I get on the public transportation bus to get to school, I have to pass the West County Detention Facility. On my way back home, we sometimes stop to pick up an ex-convict who was just released around the time I go home.
I am as much a part of this city as anyone else, even if I go to a public charter school. I live the same experiences as any other student my age. Why should people be denied being a part of the Richmond Promise simply because their parents wished for an education that would better prepare them for the college education?
I will be attending college next year. What is making this very difficult is that college tuition and loans are rising every day. My parents work extremely hard but they will not be able to cover all of my college costs at this rate. The thought of being penalized for seeking alternative educational opportunities, like attending a charter school, is frightening. It is my hope that my community might help me throughout this process, not push me back.
Zachary Fontanilla,12th Grade, Salesian HS
I am Zachary Fontanilla, a resident of Richmond, and a student at Salesian College Preparatory. I would like to weigh in on the issue of the Richmond Promise. I give my full support for the reform of the Richmond Promise. I believe the limitation of the scholarships to solely public school students is unfair. Both charter and private school students should be able to participate in this wonderful opportunity.
The argument against private schools is that since our parents are paying all this money for our private school tuition now, college tuition should be no problem. However, roughly 70% of our student body is on some form of financial support. Whether this be aid or scholarship money, this support enables our students to go to school and pay for the $14,900 per year. With that being said, it is unfair to “assume” we can pay for college without aid.
For college, I plan on applying to UC Berkeley and Davis. Jumping from the Salesian tuition to roughly $30k would be a huge adjustment. My family’s financial situation is tight at the moment. My parents have to not only provide for my education, but also for the education of my two younger brothers. Yes, we manage to pay for private school tuition, but that would not be made possible without the financial aid we receive.
Thank you for your time and I hope my opinion can help change the City Council’s decision.