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Educational Inequity: A Social Justice Concern That Cannot Be Ignored

By Jim Wambach
January 24th,2020

Perspectives Article by Jim Wambach, Executive Director

Are we failing low-income Black and Latino students in our community?

Are we failing low-income African-American and Latino students in our community?

Are we failing low-income African-American and Latino students in our community? Recent standardized testing results indicate educational inequity abounds in schools serving low-income neighborhoods.

Recent standardized testing results indicate that not only are we in the midst of an education crisis, the problem is most acutely felt in schools serving our most vulnerable students. The educational inequity in our community is a social justice concern that simply cannot be ignored.

The need and urgency for interventional math and reading tutoring is significant. We know that when we support vulnerable children at critical times in their young lives, we nurture hope, the courage to dream, and the opportunity to thrive. We also know that opportunity is not shared equitably across all schools in Oakland. All six schools currently supported by our numeracy program and 14 of the 18 schools supported by our literacy program (and eventually our numeracy program) are located in high poverty neighborhoods. The vast majority of students in these schools are children of color, primarily African American and Latino.

The problem of educational inequity becomes far more stark and urgent when isolating of elementary school children of color  attending schools located in high poverty neighborhoods…

During this past spring (2019), 1,916 African-American and Latino 3rd grade children across Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) took the SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) standardized math testing for the first time. Across all schools within the OUSD, 1,225 (64%) of these children scored below grade-level with 977 (51%) of these children scoring substantially below grade level.

While those numbers are troubling, the problem becomes far more stark and urgent when isolating the scores of elementary school children of color (specifically blacks and latinos) attending schools located in high poverty neighborhoods as they are assessed for grade-level math ability (numeracy).

This month, GO Public Schools Oakland, an education advocacy nonprofit, published the following data for grade-level numeracy achievement – for black and latino elementary school children from these schools. The results were based on the most recent (2019) SBAC scores for these children.

Below is a summary of the numeracy results from that report:

Black Elementary School Children (from 27 schools in high poverty neighborhoods)

  • 14 schools had 90-100% of their Black children scoring below grade level
  • 10 schools had 80 – 89% of their Black children scoring below grade level
  • 3 schools had 70% of their Black children scoring below grade level

Latino Elementary School Children ( from 33 schools in high poverty neighborhoods)

  • 7 schools had 90-100% of their Latino children scoring below grade level
  • 13 schools had 80-89% of their Latino children scoring below grade level
  • 13 schools had 50-75% of their Latino children scoring below grade level

The results for reading literacy were very similar.

Learning to read empowers children to succeed in elementary school

Learning to read and developing math numeracy empowers children to succeed in elementary school, middle school, and beyond.

Clearly, the vast majority of the children from these schools are struggling and not receiving the academic support they require. Many are performing 2+ grade levels behind.

The children in these schools will NOT have the numeracy skills required to learn and grow if they are not provided personal attention during their early elementary school years. These children simply will NOT have a fair chance of achieving success in middle school, high school and beyond. Tragically, the achievement and opportunity gaps continue unabated in low-income areas for people of color. It’s simply not fair or equitable.

The good news? The solution – and the opportunity – to address this issue is simple (but not easy). One-on-one tutors meeting with students each week, nurturing hope, the courage to dream, and the opportunity to thrive can make a generational impact in our community, one precious child at a time.

YES, I CAN help a vulnerable child SOAR to their God-given potential.

 I want to attend an upcoming mentor or tutor orientation session to see if it is right for me!

 I want help fund Children Rising tutoring and mentoring programs to empower more children this year.

CareerBridge Internship Opens New Opportunities In Engineering

By Eric Steckel
January 3rd,2020

Partnership with Boost@BerkeleyHass helps students gain on-the-job experience

Corey presents his CareerBridge report

Corey imagined he would one day be a doctor, but a CareerBridge internship at Caltrans opened up the world of engineering to him.

Corey Reeves came to CareerBridge with big plans for his life. He was an excellent student at San Leandro High School, passionate about volleyball, and he dreamed of being a doctor. “I’m really passionate about learning. I realize that no matter where I go in life, I can always learn, and I’m always going to be a student.”

Like many CareerBridge students, Corey spent the last four years participating in the Boost@BerkeleyHaas program. With similar goals to CareerBridge, Boost is a rigorous four-year program designed to inspire, elevate, and support academic and career pursuits for first generation, under-resourced youths. 

While Boost urges their students to participate in a summer internship, the program does not directly provide those opportunities. Through a partnership with Children Rising, Boost students like Corey are offered a wide array of options to spend a summer learning on-the-job skills at organizations like Caltrans, BART and Intel, as well as local businesses like the Kylie Walsh Osteopathy clinic.

CareerBridge “…lets you see the different work environments that you can do like engineering, science, technology, math, education, child development, all those sorts of things.”

Corey chose to intern at Caltrans. Although he had participated in several internships which reinforced his dream to pursue a career in medicine, he still felt anxious about entering an organization with 4,000 employees. He started in the communications department, working with stock photography. 

“At first I was in a department where I didn’t really like what I was doing. I wasn’t challenged, I wanted to give up,” Corey confessed. The CareerBridge staff were able to help him through the difficult start. “They encouraged me to keep trying harder because eventually something positive would happen.”

Corey with fellow CareerBridge summer interns

Corey was discouraged at the beginning of his internship, but persevered and gained invaluable experience that changed his career ambitions and opened up a job at Caltrans.

Corey stuck with it, and before long, he was transferred to the department of electrical engineers. That’s when things took off, and Corey discovered an all-new passion. 

“They would actually pull me aside and talk to me separately, and show me what they do, what it requires, and what I would need to do in school in order to get where they are,” Corey explained. “And we took a couple tours and they showed us the bridges they’re working on or the bridges they had worked on, like the Bay Bridge when it was being built. It was cool, and so much more challenging.”

Corey’s internship at Caltrans has changed his career ambitions. He now wants to become an engineer, and was offered a job with Caltrans starting in January, 2020.

“CareerBridge really helps you understand that even if you do have a certain passion, it exposes you to different ones. And it lets you see the different work environments that you can do like engineering, science, technology, math, education, child development, all those sorts of things.”

 

YES, I CAN help an enthusiastic youth SOAR to their God-given potential.

 I want to attend an upcoming mentor or tutor orientation session to see if it is right for me!

 I want help fund Children Rising tutoring and mentoring programs to empower more children this year.