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Community calls on mayoral candidates to address the achievement gap

May 31, 2018

A child searches the candidates’ faces for a sign that they understand the plight of a Black child growing up in the hood. – Photo: Innovate Public Schools

Community members and clergy from the Black, Latino, and Pacific Islander communities gathered in Southeast San Francisco on May 12 to ask candidates for Mayor what they plan to do about the city’s stark achievement gap for low-income students. Candidates Angela Alioto, Richie Greenberg, Amy Farrah Weiss and Ellen Lee Zhou heard from parents who spoke of their frustration with the lack of opportunities afforded to their children and the inequities of the current school system. The other three candidates did not attend.

Parents presented the candidates in attendance with data that showed a gap in proficiency of 69 percentage points between non-low income white students and low-income African American students in English – and a gap of 66 percentage points between these two subgroups in math.

A good size crowd came to speak to and hear from the candidates for mayor about the school achievement gap at Cornerstone on May 12. The three leading candidates were absent. – Photo: Innovate Public Schools

The candidates spoke passionately of the need to address the crisis, each offering different angles from which to approach it. Then, candidates Alioto, Greenberg and Zhou signed the Children First Pledge, committing to supporting policies that put children first and working toward the goal of increasing by 10 percentage points the proficiency of low-income African American, Latino and Pacific Islander students by the end of the 2018-19 school year, and then another 10 percentage points by the end of the 2019-20 school year. Farrah Weiss had to leave the forum before the pledge was introduced.

The forum was hosted by six churches from the Black, Latino and Pacific Islander communities – Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church, Iglesia Casa de Barro, New Providence Baptist Church, St. John Missionary Baptist Church, True Hope Church of God in Christ, St. Andrews Missionary Baptist Church and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, SF Chapter – along with volunteer parent leaders with the non-profit Innovate Public Schools. It took place at Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church.

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