February 14, 2014
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January 3, 2014
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Over 100 educators, parents, and other community members attended a deeply inspiring talk on Saturday, December 14, 2013 by education and civil rights leader Dr. Howard Fuller on "School Options for African American Families" hosted by the Oakland Alliance of Black Educators (OABE) in partnership with our sister organization, GO Public Schools Leadership Center. Dr. Fuller and other speakers talked about making dramatic improvements to the school system for African American students and families in Oakland.
Dr. Fuller called for "a revolutionary point of view," declaring that we need to do more than fix the system.
There is no "one best system that works for all children," he argued, calling for honest talk about what children go through every day in our schools - and communities.
"Some children deserve a medal for just showing up at school," he said, and they deserve better from the school system. Too many schools are "pathways to the lowest rung of society."
We were all moved by how he called on us all to pledge to fight every day to save children's lives. Because as Dr. Fuller said, education is fundamentally about economic empowerment, about whether our children will grow up free and independent.
But sadly, "our children perish under the weight of the compromises of adults," as Kareem Weaver said in his opening talk.
Kareem Weaver, Executive Director of Bay Area New Leaders and an officer of OABE, reminded us that only about half of African American students graduate high school, and only one-third of those have the credits required to apply for admission to state colleges.
"Education is not just about getting a job, but our children need to be ready for college and career," Weaver said, presenting research that found that every additional $12,500 in annual income led to an additional year in life expectancy. "This is why life expectancy in West Oakland is decades lower than it is just a few miles away in the hills."
Weaver called for educators to rise above the divisive politics of charter and district schools and work together to provide solutions now for the families that need them.
Dr. Fuller called on us to value the hopes and dreams of children and saving children's lives "more than the institutional heritage of the education system," and to be willing to imagine diverse new systems to meet every students' need.
"Change is not going to come from Washington or Sacramento," Fuller argued, "it's going to come from local communities that organize themselves to fight and win on behalf of our children."
The event sparked new conversations and alliances among education leaders who want urgent changes for African American students, and we greatly look forward to continuing this conversation in 2014, building alliances and working with families to increase access to quality schools now.
The entire talk is available here on our You Tube site.