There Is an Education Crisis Affecting Our City’s Most Vulnerable Children
By Jim Wambach
Perspectives article by Jim Wambach, Executive Director
There is an education crisis affecting our city’s most vulnerable children. Let’s all say “YES!” … so more children can escape the vicious cycle of poverty and violence.
Is the plight of urban public schools one of the civil rights issues of our generation?
I strongly believe it is. This year, 4,000 second-graders began school at an OUSD elementary school. 1,800 of these children will complete second grade substantially below grade level in their reading and math ability. Children who struggle in elementary and middle school drop out of high school and are more likely to be unemployed, earn less money, be incarcerated, depend on public assistance, and die at a younger age.
These children are bright and capable, but they are faced with so many challenges. Challenges ranging from constant trauma due to a barrage of poverty-centered, adverse childhood experiences (abuse, neglect, violence and drugs at home, violence and drugs in their neighborhoods, homelessness, and more) to education challenges in schools that are dramatically under-resourced and unable to provide a consistent high-quality learning environment.
All of us at Faith Network are dedicated to helping the children and the wonderful educators struggling to overcome these challenges. Daily, we witness the impact of all these challenges on a child’s ability to rise above the storm – and to learn and grow.
Last month, the Garfield Elementary School Principal, grappling with the constraints of a drastically reduced budget, asked us to help her struggling second-graders who are severely behind their grade level in basic math and critical reasoning skills.
We said, “Yes.”
A few weeks ago, the Horace Mann Elementary School Principal, struggling with similar budget cuts, explained that 80% of her students were performing below grade level in reading. She wanted to know if we could add her to our list of schools and help.
We said, “Yes.”
The good news is that it is not difficult to come alongside these children who are at the crossroad of promise and risk. It is not difficult to partner with our wonderful educators to support their efforts
Today, hundreds of students are being tutored, mentored, nourished and inspired with help from community volunteers. More than 70% of the children that receive this type of support advance by 2 or more grade levels, and gain a tremendous amount of confidence and sense of self worth. But we need to continue to all work together in order to help so many more of these children – before it is too late.
Faith Network is designed to do exactly this. We are designed to say “yes” when the public schools need additional help. We are designed to say “yes” when teachers refer the most struggling students to us. We are designed to say “yes” to teaching others in the community to be skilled tutors and mentors. We are designed to say “yes” to addressing the education crisis affecting our city’s most vulnerable children.
Help us continue to say “Yes” during this important and pivotal time in our public schools.
You can help by re-posting this blog so more members of the community are aware of the challenges these children face (video). You can be part of our community enablement engine by becoming a Path2Math or Succeeding by Reading tutor for a second-grade child or by becoming a mentor for a high school youth. You can also help by making a donation – every $100.00 provides materials for one child to be tutored for a full academic year. Every $750.00 donation provides a full academic year of 1:1 math or reading tutoring for one second-grade child.
For the children,
P.S. We invite you to join in our vision to ensure that every child feels loved and safe, every child has reliable adults who model positive values, and every child can develop as a whole person –body, mind and spirit. Your gift will be doubled if received by November 30th.
YES, I CAN help address the Education Crisis in our city. Let’s talk!