The City of Oakland in Alameda County, California has been chosen as one of six cities in the United States to participate in a national project with the goal of eliminating the direct correlation between a student’s socioeconomic status, and their level of academic achievement.
Initiated by Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, the project calls for school and city officials as well as community leaders to come together and collaborate for the greater cause. According to a quote from Susan Frey’s article on EdSource.org, Oakland was selected “because of the demonstrated leadership the city has shown in its commitment to serving all children and youth well as seen in its recently announced Oakland Promise initiative.” This statement came from Bridget Rodriguez, associate director of programs and operations for the Education Redesign Lab, who is in charge of implementing Harvard’s program in Alameda County.
Historically, Oakland has been quite active in attempting to decrease the gap in academic achievement between high and low income students. Such efforts are evidenced by initiatives such as the Oakland Promise. The Oakland Promise is a newly launched program that aims to increase college graduation rates among its students by three times the existing rate. The City of Oakland, Alameda County School District, the County of Alameda, and the East Bay College Fund are collaborating with business and community organizations around the Bay area to support low-income children from birth all the way to college graduation.
A key portion of the Oakland Promise is contributing to a college fund for each newborn in a low-income family. Per Susan Frey’s article, the initiative includes:
“A $500 college fund started for babies born in low-income families and another $500 for the families if they ensure their children are kindergarten-ready by participating in home visits from public health nurses, preschool and other programs that help children succeed academically. Beginning in 2015-16, the Oakland Promise will also contribute $100 to a college fund for every kindergartner attending public schools in Oakland.”
In addition to college savings, the Oakland Promise also includes scholarships for those graduating high school, as well as career centers at every middle and high school in Alameda County. According to the EdSource article, the Oakland Promise will take approximately four years to implement and cost around $38 million dollars. After the program is in place it is estimated to cost $35 million per year.
The Oakland Promise is sure to benefit from the city’s involvement in the national initiative headed by Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. In turn, the success of such collaborative efforts to narrow the gap between the academic achievement of students from low and high income households could inspire many communities around Alameda County to do the same, and join this movement in the education sector. Undoubtedly, this paradigm shift towards success for all students will also lead to an increased demand for Tutors in Alameda County.
It is the hope that, as Oakland communities rally to the standard of equal educational opportunities for all, teachers, school officials, community leaders, and tutors in Oakland will continue to cooperate to create a better learning environment, and inspire the rest of the country to do the same.