Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Written by Rebecca Chhay
In Theory of Knowledge last year, we took a field trip to see the latest movie about education, Waiting for Superman. In the film, there was an animated clip of a factory that illustrated the track system in education. In the track system, students are sorted off into tracks based on their abilities.
I’ve been in a track system before. I didn’t realize it was called that, but at Roosevelt that was what we had. Two completely different sets of teachers separated the tracks, and it didn’t matter if you were stellar in one subject but you couldn’t deal with another; you were generally put (or later transferred) into the easiest track possible.
We were taught to take pride in our tracks, in the labels the administration stuck on us. In seventh grade, I was part of “Adventure 7”, which sounds nice at first but that effect diminishes after you realize it’s a form of segregation. It didn’t stop there. In our tracks, we had our sub-tracks. For Adventure 7, that meant we GATE students were separated from the seminar students.
Occasionally, when a seminar student was absent, and he or she took a make-up a test in my class, I would hear the inevitable remark about how much “crazier” and remarkably “different” my class was (as I sat next to the empty table in one of my classes, and thus was the recipient of all comments). 
The comments puzzled me for a great deal of time.  I didn't understand as to why there would be such a difference.  We had the same teachers, and the seminar students were just as ethnically diverse, etc. And in fact, I would probably still be puzzled if my 8th grade history teacher didn't insist on switching me to the seminar class even though I didn't have the proper Raven test score for it. The only noticeable difference I could discern after the switch was the fact that these seminar kids knew that the expectation, given their shiny “seminar” label, was that they were going to do all the work and be geniuses. Maybe not everyone in there was a genius, but each student definitely did all the work. 

Is the power of labels really so great?

In high school, we don’t have “Adventure 7”, “GATE”, or “seminar”. Instead, at San Diego High, I am reduced to the label of an “I.S. student”. I don’t deny its accuracy, but I protest at the one-label-fits-over 500 idea.
I have a background, a future, and aspirations. I am so much more than an I.S. student; so much more than a label.


  1. I definitely agree that there are lots of labels everywhere, including our school, that many times are far from the reality. I remember going into school Freshman year with no earlier knowledge of the reputations of each of the five schools at San Diego High. I very quickly became aware of the label that being a student at I.S. gave me. However, I do think the labels aren't realistic or fair, not only to the other schools, but to I.S. as well. The invisible barriers keeping us from students from other schools need to be brought down. The sooner we all realize that we aren't just students from a specific school, we can truly consider ourselves as one school. Because in the end, we are all individuals whom probably don't fit under labels assigned to us by the name of our school on our ID card.

  2. I despise being called an IS student. We are separated from the other schools because of this fact. We are considered the "white" school and everytime I walk around the campus I can tell it comes in the minds of the other kids. The lanyards do not help either as they are filled with easily distinguished colors for each school and so every kid know what school each other kid goes to. This leads to easy judgement and it is really unfair. "I have a background, a future, and aspirations. I am so much more than an I.S. student; so much more than a label."

  3. I agree with the label situation because I have freinds in other schools such as arts,leads, and buisness and all they talk about is bad stuff about us like how we are all lame. Everyone says that I.S. sucks and that there are tooooo many white people in it. In P.E. when we go walking on Thusrdays around the track and we are about to sit down the coaches once said "ohhh, here comes I.S the smarty pants". Even the lanyard situation is really retarted because since last year we "I.S." never wore lanyards and now all the schools got to be hating on us. Why can't the other schools just treat us like the rest, why do we got to be the bad school just because we focus on academics, why can't our school just fit in like the rest of the schools?