Latinx Resolution commits SFUSD to closing the achievement gap

Legislation requires real accountability to be more than an empty promise

By Richard Raya and Eric Cuentos

On Dec. 10, the San Francisco Board of Education will vote on first-of-its-kind legislation: The Latinx Resolution will hold the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) accountable for working with families and community organizations to close the achievement gap for Latinx students. Passage will ensure that SFUSD is leveraging data and strategic partnerships to drive budget and program decisions. Fundamentally, this resolution recommits the District to meet its pre-existing obligations to support the academic success of Latinx students and families, while also creating stronger community oversight and accountability mechanisms.

The most recent data shows that only 27 percent of Latinx students graduate UC/CSU eligible, compared to 51 percent of all SFUSD 12th-grade graduates; furthermore, Latinx students make up almost half (48 percent) of the high school seniors who drop out, though they constitute only 26 percent of the 12th-grade cohort.

Latinx students in SFUSD schools face many ongoing barriers to their academic success, including: housing instability and displacement; high rates of poverty; institutional racism and biases which contribute to disproportionate rates of school discipline; underresourced and racially segregated schools; and limited representation of their community, running the gamut from school-site staff to classroom curriculum.

To see much-needed improvements in the outcomes of Latinx students, the district must tactically cultivate the participation and partnership of the Latinx community, plus efficaciously use data to drive program and budget decisions. This nascent approach is beginning to show impact at some of the district’s community schools — and it is time to build on this early success.

To ensure that the Latinx Resolution is not just an admirable statement of intention to better support Latinx students, staying on a shelf and never being implemented, this resolution will establish two committees which will be responsible for providing public accountability, transparency and data collection. The first, a Latinx Internal Oversight Committee, will comprise existing district staff; while the second, a Latinx Community Council made up of parents, students, educators and service providers, will meet regularly to enhance accountability for programs for Latinx students. The superintendent will work with both of these committees to present an annual “Latinx Student Achievement Report” to the Board of Education, using this publication to inform program planning and budget allocations.

In contrast to earlier SFUSD resolutions aimed at supporting groups of students requiring additional support, the Latinx Student Resolution mostly avoids the creation of new initiatives and hiring of additional personnel; however, there is one notable exception, as we are entreating the district to hire a Latinx achievement oversight coordinator to provide the Latinx Community Council with the proper support, especially for parents who are monolingual Spanish speakers. The person in this role would also serve as the liaison between this pair of councils.

We look forward to the passage of this landmark legislation for SFUSD — and for our Latinx students. We ask that all community members in favor of this resolution’s aim to close the educational opportunity gap to contact the San Francisco Board of Education to voice support.

Richard Raya is Director of the Mission Promise Neighborhood, a community anti-poverty education initiative focused on nine schools and several early education centers in the Mission District. Eric Cuentos is Program Director of Parent Partner Program for Mission Graduates, a Mission Promise Neighborhood partner organization creating a college-going culture for first-generation students.

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