In four years Oakland Tech has seen 3 principals; from the long standing Ms. Morrison who kept the school strong through the 2010s, to Mr. Fairly who guided the school through the pandemic. Each principal has something new to offer and now students wonder what changes Mr. Martel Price will bring to the Tech community.
Mr. Price started working at Oakland Tech in 2008 as a World Studies teacher, but his OUSD experience began much earlier. A native Oaklander, Mr. Price graduated from Skyline High School, class of ‘92. He then went on to UC Santa Cruz on an affirmative action program, which ended the next year. While he enjoyed his college experience, it did not lack adversity; he had to persevere through social alienation and an undiversified culture. He wants others to be able to have the opportunities he was able to have and hopes that he can accomplish this by, “giving back to [his] community through education”. He recognizes the racial inequities in education and feels it is necessary for there to be more Black representation in learning environments. Following in his father’s footsteps, he began a career path in teaching.
Students have expressed their concerns about current aspects of the school and wonder what changes Mr. Price plans to make. To begin with, many are concerned about the fight culture. Mr. Price says that he has implemented new consequences as reactive measures to make students understand the degree to which fighting negatively affects the student body. The fights have continued to go on, however, and so he believes more proactive movements must take place. He is trying to “organize a meeting with folks in the community to organize a ‘stop the violence’ forum… the reality is that only the students can really stop it”. He understands that in the age of social media, peer pressure is even more influential. People must be careful about the information they share, he suggests, for even the smallest rumor can turn into a riot, even if unintentional. He says that as a community, we have to “address the social media culture around fights and the negativity”, in order to improve the fight culture as a whole.
Secondly, there are inquiries about both the physical and mental health resources available at Tech. For example, Mr. Price says that all he has the power to do in regards to COVID protocols is to highly encourage the use of masks, especially when indoors or in close proximity to one another. He also reminds everyone to monitor their symptoms and to stay home when sick, as to not spread it to others. If you do contract Covid, he asks that you please put your information into Parent Square so that the community can be aware of a case and be wary of their symptoms.
Moving onto Mental Health services, Mr. Price recognizes the importance of mental and emotional health, especially in a learning environment. The Coordination of Services Team (COST) has mental health clinicians on campus for students to go to. Mr. Price says that the team is doing their best to help all students who need it, but they are “at capacity”. He will be working on trying to get more providers on campus to better serve everyone but still suggests that, if possible, “families should have conversations with their children about their needs”, so that everyone can get more help than what just the school is able to offer.
Finally, a vast majority of students have expressed their annoyance about thirty minute lunches. Mr. Price says that if the students really want this to change they have to “talk to [their] teachers because last year we arranged a vote for the staff to extend the lunch” and there was not a two third majority in favor of the idea. So, students have to speak up to build pressure and convince teachers that extended lunch would be a beneficial decision for all.
In all, Mr. Price will be working strenuously this year to reach all of these goals and more, but he has made it clear that he cannot accomplish many of these things without the students’ support. The teachers and staff cannot handle everything on their own. Students have to show up and be present for things to run smoothly. They have to be the change they want to see in the school and ultimately the world at large.