Winning Quality Education for All * Ending the School to Prison Pipeline
The fight for quality education, as a fundamental human right and a strategy of upward mobility for low-income people and people of color, is central to Coleman’s work to keep families in San Francisco. Education level is a primary determining factor in economic security; Individuals who did not complete high school, for example, are almost eight times more likely than college graduates to have incomes below the self-sufficiency standard.
While thousands of children are achieving and even excelling in San Francisco public schools, there are thousands of students who are being failed. Their achievement, graduation, and college-going rates do not meet community standards, and these children are overwhelmingly Black, Latino, and Pacific Islander. The creation of a two-tiered education system has left a significant number of students with very few options for their future, and essentially condemned to another generation of low-wage work or prison. We know there is both a racial ‘achievement gap’ and a racial opportunity gap creating these conditions. These inequities are perpetuated and intensified by a range of aggressive, unregulated and biased disciplinary practices that disproportionately impact low-income African American and Latino children, depriving them of their fundamental right to education and in many cases pushing students permanently out of school and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
Coleman has more than two decades of history winning improvements in the San Francisco public school system, and increasing the voice of disenfranchised student and parent stakeholders in school district decision-making.
Victories have included:
- Providing key leadership to the Great Schools campaign that won passage of Prop H, which invests up to $60 million a year in local city funds to SF public schools, to restore core funds for arts, music, sports and a wide range of learning support services that our schools had been forced to cut after decades of post-Prop 13 state budget cuts. Additionally, Coleman has been a core stakeholder and leader in nearly every successful school funding campaign in the last three decades – from school bonds to parcel tax and progressive revenue measures that increase city investments in our under-funded schools.
- Winning support and funding for the district’s new 9th Grade Ethnic Studies initiative, with a citywide youth coalition that included a strong Coleman ally, the Filipino Community Center and the PEP Filipino youth program.
- Winning $1.4 million in a youth-led campaign to create school-based high school health centers. Thousands of students, in every major high school and middle schools, now receive free, confidential services at these “Wellness Centers”, through a strong partnership with city government.
- Increasing student and parent voice in school governance, by creating the Parent Advisory Council, winning sustained staffing for the Student Advisory Council, and training thousands of students and parents to become stronger leaders for school change.
College and Career Educational Access Campaign
In 2008, Coleman launched our College and Career Educational Access Campaign which aims to increase the number of low-income African & Latino youth who are graduating from high school, 4 year universities, trade/vocational programs, and from community college technical certificate programs that lead to living-wage union jobs.
In 2009, we won the passage of a landmark “College and Career For All” policy mandating the implementation of the UC “A- G” requirements in all SFUSD high schools. Hundreds of Coleman parent and youth members and allies mobilized to the SF Board of Education to call for justice and equal opportunity for all students. We brought 3,000 postcards to show the incredible community support for a new A-G policy that now finally gives students access to the courses that they need to attend college or to get a good living wage job in our city – the ‘college track’ classes once reserved for just a few.
We believe that from Pre-K through high school, all students have the right to be prepared for college and a secure economic future. We believe that it’s wrong that 70% of Black, Latino and Pacific Islander students who graduate from SFUSD have historically been ineligible to apply to any CSU or UC school because SFUSD denied them the opportunity to take the “A-G” course sequence that all state colleges require.
Since our 2009 “A-G For All” victory, Coleman Families have been taking action to ensure this landmark equity policy is fully implemented across the district. In 2012 and 2013, Coleman families’ won more than $2 million in additional funds for credit recovery and additional supports for SFUSD’s most struggling students. We also continue to move forward our Restorative Justice/Stop the School-to-Prison Pipeline campaign, building upon more than thirty years of leadership in the local juvenile justice arena.
In 2013, we will continue our efforts to ensure that the district is following through on its commitment to closing the achievement gap in SF schools, and students are getting the resources and support they need to succeed with the new, higher expectations.
Below are Coleman Families’ 2013 Education budget priorities:
- Invest in both in-school and extended-day credit recovery options for high school students, to make up classes they have not passed.
- Expand high quality tutoring and academic support opportunities for the lowest performing students, who are overwhelmingly African American, Latino and Pacific Islander.
- Expand in-school emotional and mental health support services for students.
- Sustain current funding for Restorative Practices, and commit to full implementation of the Restorative Justice policy.
For more historical context: