Entries by Stephanie Espinoza

Stephanie Espinoza

School is Out, But Lunch is Still Being Served

By Stephanie Espinoza, Jul 3, 2012 1:58 PM

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Summer is supposed to be a time when kids can break free from the rigors of school. But for some, it also means no more school lunches, which is why districts around the state are taking the initiative to make sure their kids stay well fed.

Stephanie Espinoza

Study Shows Continuation Schools in California Unsuccessful

By Stephanie Espinoza, May 21, 2012 4:14 PM

I recently visited Nueva Continuation School in South Kern County, in the rural community of Lamont. The children's center there once provided childcare for teen parents but it was eliminated a few years ago due to lack of funding. The loss has made it especially difficult for student-parents without the financial means to obtain care elsewhere to remain in school.

Stephanie Espinoza

Hope In a Time of Crisis

By Stephanie Espinoza, May 18, 2012 3:36 PM

The EdSource 2012 symposium, in collaboration with the California State PTA, brought together educators, parents, policy makers, and researchers last week at the Anaheim Convention Center to discuss the impact of California’s budget deficit on schools and children. The discussion centered around the theme “Striving for Success in a Time of Crisis.”

Stephanie Espinoza

Expediting Graduation by Cutting Arts and Language

By Stephanie Espinoza, May 4, 2012 4:24 PM

The board of Kern High School District recently approved a “permissive law” that aims to give students more options for completing their graduation requirements. The move is part of Assembly Bill 1330, which is designed to offer students greater flexibility in choosing classes that will count towards graduation.

Stephanie Espinoza

High School Counselor Goes 'High Touch'

By Stephanie Espinoza, Apr 20, 2012 9:52 AM

Mary Crider is in her 8th year as a guidance counselor at Arvin High School in South Kern County. She currently serves 553 freshman students in their academic, emotional, and social development. In addition to that, Mary also deals with the impact of budget cuts.

Stephanie Espinoza

Students Compete for Attention of Swamped Counselors at Arvin H.S.

By Stephanie Espinoza, Apr 11, 2012 5:30 PM

Cynthia Gomez, 15, is a sophomore at Arvin High School in south Kern County. She shares one guidance counselor, Wendy Ward, with 552 other students in her class. Needless to say, gone are the days of just walking into the counselor’s office for some friendly advice. Getting guidance from Crider can take awhile, especially at critical times during the school year.

"When the school year starts or when the second semester begins, we’re not allowed to see our counselors (without an appointment)," says Cynthia. "There are so many students that need to make changes to their schedules, so we have to fill out a form."

This was a big problem for Cynthia during her freshman year.

"I was placed in a class I didn’t want to be in," she says. "I tried to fix it and went through the process and filled out the form.” It took three weeks for Cynthia to get a response.

Over time, Cynthia was able to establish a good relationship with her counselor, and the personal relationship has made a difference. "That problem for me hasn't really been there anymore since she knows who I am and she recognizes me." Cynthia's experience might be different today if she wasn't so persistent. "I feel that [my counselor] doesn't necessarily give me priority but… she'll look out for me and make sure I have the classes I need," says Cynthia. "I think if I didn't have that relationship, she would [still] put in the effort, but not as much as now."

But even with the communication improved, Cynthia feels that she is still not getting enough support. "I generally don't go in for much help besides my (class) schedule," she says. "It's too difficult to contact them for advice on college and other things. Recently, I went in to remind her that I wanted to be put in a class next year… I went everyday during lunch for almost a week, until I was able to find her," she adds. "It's bothersome because they tell us to look for them during lunch but they aren’t there."

Stephanie Espinoza is a fellow with New America Media's Youth Education Fellowship. The fellowship is a six-month long program for youth reporters aged 16-24 on education reporting. It is sponsored by the California Education Policy Fund.