Creating A Just Society.
Too often, our schools are failing our kids. Literally. While California has a graduation rate of 78.5%, Oakland lags considerably behind with a graduation rate of only 62.2% overall, and a much, much worse 52-53% graduation rate for African American and Latino students. Similarly, the high school drop out rate in Oakland currently stands at 24.7%.
This is immoral; it is obscene.
We must raise the bar at our schools. Under a Siegel administration, the City will play a critical role in creating real support structures and wrap-around services that address family needs. This includes early childhood education—the single greatest investment we can make in human beings, giving them the gift of education at ages 3 and 4 and leveling the playing field for children from affluent and poor families.
But we won’t stop there. We will also create Community Schools that provide after school hours and weekend learning centers, universal after school programming, community based adult education programs, an emphasis on language emersion and computer programming literacy, and the establishment of a rainy day fund so that education isn’t at the mercy of down cycle economics.
And as Mayor, Dan Siegel will meet with the Superintendent every single week to strategize and collaborate on how to improve the quality of schools in Oakland.
Aim High: We have to lay the groundwork now.
- Our goal is to reduce truancy by 30% by 2016.
- We can increase Oakland high school graduation rates 20% by 2020.
Those are aggressive goals. And the investment is significant. But if we do not take the time to get this right now, we will face ugly consequences for our inaction.
- Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare.
- Illiteracy and crime are closely related. Over 70% of inmates in America's prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.
Addressing inadequacies in education is one of the most potent ways to make life-altering changes in our children.
Dan Siegel believes we also need to promote a mentorship society here in Oakland that clearly communicates to our children that they are loved, and there are adults who want to see them succeed. Everyone should be involved, and every school should be linked with a business, house of worship, or labor union to provide it with ongoing support and a pool of volunteers. Consider this:
- Students who meet regularly with their mentors are 52% less likely to skip a day of school and 37% less likely to skip class.
- Youth who meet regularly with their mentors are 46% less likely to start using drugs and 37% less likely to start drinking.
If we combine our approaches, and adequately partner with the school district, our entire community will be richer for it.