Sunday, December 2, 2012

Oakland groups working to close the achievement gap

When thinking about Bright Spots, there’s a lot we can learn from our neighbors to the south. There are many things happening in Oakland to address the achievement gap. In the past week, I’ve attended events pertaining to three very inspiring groups that I’d like to share:

    1.  Camp Phoenix “empowers low-income children to overcome the summer learning gap through joyful academic learning, enrichment, and community building.” Summer 2013 will be the pilot summer for the camp. They’ll be bringing a group of rising 6th graders from the same school in Oakland to the camp for three weeks.

     2.     Oakland Schools Foundation (OSF) “is a local education fund that secures and manages resources for Oakland public schools in order to support our vision of equity: that all students have the opportunity to achieve excellence.” I attended a student fishbowl sponsored by OSF the other night, where we got to hear from a handful of middle and high school students from Oakland about what’s working in their schools and what else can be done to empower them to excel. 

        3.     Great Oakland (GO) Public Schools is a “a coalition of parents, teachers, principals, and community leaders from the hills and flatlands, East, West, and North Oakland, charter and district public schools who share a vision of an Oakland where all children receive the schooling and support they need to live successful, fulfilling lives.”  GO works on a variety of issues, including supporting effective teaching, making school board issues more accessible to the general public and supporting local candidates in the recent election.

Many of the issues that these three organization are working to address also impact the students in Berkeley. The achievement gap is a reality for our students- but there are momentous things happening to close it. Let’s continue to learn from the Bright Spots of our neighbors!

1 comment:

  1. I received a great question from a reader today: "How do you determine if a program qualifies as a bright spot? Does it have to demonstrate success in a quantifiable way or can it simply be a promising idea? Both have merit, I'm just interested."

    For the organizations listed here, Camp Phoenix is currently a promising idea in the making. I'm confident that by the end of next summer and in the years that follow, they'll have very positive results to share!

    Oakland Schools Foundation has had a huge impact on the resources that are accessible to students in Oakland. "OSF helped 27 schools raise more than $1.2 million in grants during 2010-11, and has supported 40-plus schools in raising more than $20 million since 2003, allowing schools to pay for programs and staff positions that help them best serve their students."

    GO has a proven track record of impact, including advocating to keep open several small schools which were on the brink of being closed and have had a measurable impact on their students. You can read about this and other impact here: