The Bay Area is a beacon for innovation. Those who call it home pride themselves on thinking differently and exploring new frontiers. Yet not all Bay Area students are prepared to excel as the innovators of tomorrow. Some of them aren't even given a fighting chance. In San Francisco, only 14 percent of African American students finish high school on time, while in the South Bay, Palo Alto High School's graduation rate is 99.4 percent.
We see rays of hope in the hundreds of classrooms and dozens of schools in the Bay Area that are putting not just a few, but many of their students—most from low-income backgrounds—on a different academic path. These students will have a chance at a brighter future than their life circumstances might predict.
As we consider what it will take to provide all students in the Bay Area with a great education, we have resolved to focus our efforts over the next several years within four communities: San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, and Richmond.
We aim to better partner with our communities, helping to show what's possible when leadership, great ideas, hard work, and determination merge in a shared commitment to doing what's best for our youngest citizens. Only through a collaborative effort in each community will we have a chance to prove that transformational change in education is possible for the Bay Area. These communities will continue to light the way toward a bright and innovative future for all.
In 1999, only five Oakland schools were judged successful, based on the state’s Academic Performance Index (API). In 2012, 42 schools hit that mark. Oakland’s progress on the API made it the fastest-improving school district in the state for eight straight years leading up to 2013.
Education Week takes a look at how Teach For America is partnering with the Oakland community to lead classrooms, campuses and communities toward “a culture of college.”