On June 4, I’m organizing a community forum with local leaders, elected officials, neighbors and friends to come together and discuss our state’s top priority – securing a prosperous and successful future for our kids with better schools, more job opportunities, a stronger economy, safer neighborhoods and more incentives to get a high quality education.
Why? Because I strongly believe that if we get it right for our kids, then we’ll get it right for California.
All too often we hear from elected officials that children are our priority – but it’s all talk and no action. Until we fully fund our schools and make real investments in all of our children, we put California in jeopardy.
We all know the devastating fact – just this year California dropped to 49th in per-pupil spending. What does this mean? We’re disinvesting in the future of our children – and the future of our state.
As a former school board member and someone who has spent my career helping kids, I know that we not only need to make investing in education the highest priority in California, but also we need to create incentives to increase school attendance. There’s a direct correlation here: when kids attend school, our school districts receive more funding from the state. A school’s Average Daily Attendance (ADA) is a factor in the state’s funding formula.
It’s basic math at a fundamental level: more kids in class means more money for our schools.
In 2012, nearly 1 in 4 students in Oakland and Richmond dropped out of high school, and 15% of Berkeley students dropped out. And a majority of these students dropped out because of truancy. The truancy rates in both Berkeley Unified School District and West Contra Costa Unified are twice that of the state average. If they’re not learning the curriculum, they can’t pass exams and can’t graduate. These kids have a harder time finding a job and thriving and surviving on their own. They have fewer and fewer opportunities and are running out of luck.
So what’s the solution here? Together as a community and as role models for our children, we need to encourage, support and set up students to succeed – with engaging curriculum, practical job training opportunities and after school programs that teach them valuable skills and keep them out of trouble and off the streets.
That’s why I’m organizing the community to come together on June 4. I want to hear your ideas and also create the opportunity for you to speak directly with experts and leaders in the East Bay community, who are working on these issues everyday.
The panel discussion will focus on creating better schools and greater opportunities for all of our children, and I hope you can join us for this important conversation. Because for me, making our children’s future a priority is personal.
I know we can do this, because I’ve done it before.
For example, through CEO Youth, a program I lead at the Lincoln Child Center, we create entrepreneurship opportunities for youth, provide job training and grow future leaders.
I’ve made it my life’s work to lead youth-focused programs, including CEO Youth, and to engage students in the East Bay who have a track record of skipping school. Through dedication and unwavering commitment, these successful programs have yielded a 70% increase in overall class attendance. These are results that matter. When you engage and encourage students, they are more likely to reach their highest potential while having fun and learning valuable skills.
Please join us at the YMCA Teen Center in Berkeley on Tuesday June 4 at 6pm. Come hear about the important work that’s already being done by school board members and community leaders in Berkeley, Oakland and West Contra Costa County, and share your ideas and join the conversation on how we can engaging our kids at school. Light refreshments will be provided. Please RSVP today so we know you can join us.