Hi friends! This blog is for teachers and families- all for the sheer joy of literacy. When we are enthusiastic about reading and writing our students and our own kids become excited to read and write. I hope that we all can be models for those in our care- how did you show your passion for reading, writing, learning, language, or words today?? It's in those small, daily moments that we teach kids to love literacy.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

East Oakland's Baby College

As I was browsing my facebook updates, I was intrigued by Oakland Local's article on the Baby College early-childhood intiative in East Oakland. OUSD, Alameda County, and Safe Passages are working together to bring a program akin to Harlem Children's Zone Baby College to Sobrante Park and Havenscourt neighborhoods in East Oakland. This 6-week program provides parents with much needed support and information as they raise their kids in the toughest neighborhoods in Oakland. Oakland's new major, Jean Quan, supports the collaborative initiative, and hopes that its success will bring more funding for the program in the future (as do I).

We need more programs like this in Oakland. Hear, hear? Research time and time again says that early childhood education is pivotal for student success later in school. The charter system I belong to focuses on college readiness, which is a noble aspiration, however, I feel like we need to put more effort into preventative solutions to our students' struggles with academics.

Currently, more than 60% of my school's student body is reading below grade level (probably more- that's a guesstimate). Our students, their families, and most-certainly our teachers are hard-working. Everyone wants the students to succeed. We give students a bucket full of support in the classroom and provide a buffet of research-proven reading and math interventions. But it's just not enough. Our students make a ton of progress, but many of them still enter middle school below grade level.

Our students NEED preschool, and they NEED pre-pre-school.

95% of our student body are English Language Learners, and as you might assume, most of our students come to kinder with little knowledge of the English language. If we gave the families more support in the early years (like baby college), the kids would be ready to enter kindergarten.

I know I'm preaching to the choir. But how do we make the system change? How do we get entire communities the early childhood education that their children desperately need? I love these small-scale initiatives, they do so much to help...but we need change on a larger scale. Am I right?

I think we need a charter system that is eager and willing to tackle this issue!
Baby college leads to real college.

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