School offers college prep courses again
By Ken A. Epstein
McClymonds High School in West Oakland is back as a center of academic learning, following efforts by parents and community supporters to work with the school district to rejuvenate the school.
When school starts in September, it will offer for the first time in many years the extensive advanced placement classes and other college prep courses that students need to gain entrance into top universities.
“We will be offering the same college courses other high schools are offering, as well as some courses that none of the schools offer, such a choir, computer classes, African American literature and drama,” said Ben Tapscott, chairman of the New McClymonds committee and a former teacher and coach at the school for 16 years.
Because these courses are new, parents who send their students to the school in the fall year will have less difficulty getting into classes that are highly competitive at other schools, according to school supporters.
“This a clear indication of McClymonds’ continued growth, strong school leadership and focus on academics,” said Jumoke Hinton Hodge, school board member from District 3, where McClymonds is located. “It should help the community regain confidence in the district’s commitment to the school.”
The coalition of McClymonds supporters formed when they learned the school was in danger of closing, having lost all of its advanced placement classes and most of its student body.
While the school served over 1,000 students in 2005, enrollment dropped to 230 in 2009.
Seeking to increase enrollment, the school will offer 14 advanced placement courses in the fall and 14 electives. The plan is to raise enrollment to 500 students this year and double the number of advanced classes the following year.
“We’re shoring up the entire curriculum,” Tapscott said, who said McClymonds supporters were working closely with Deputy Superintendent Maria Santos of Oakland Unified School to improve the school.
The school district did not return phone calls to the Post.
Shaheda Wright, whose son is a ninth grader, said she and other parents were “extremely upset” when they learned the school did not offer classes that would enable them to attend universities.
“We’ve been organizing for the children,” she said. “What’s the difference between McClymonds and other schools? Our children deserve the same education as others.”
Baheia Miller, also the parent of ninth grader, is a McClymonds graduate of the Class of ’94.
“What surprised me was that my son didn’t have a science course or a history course,” she said. “He comes from an accelerated a school, and I don’t feel like he’s being challenged the way he should be.”
Instead of sending her son to another school, Miller said, “I’ve decided to stay and join the fight.
“It’s a long fight, but next year, we will have more advanced placement classes.”