Broken Promises

The Children Left Behind in Silicon Valley Schools

Broken Promises: The Children Left Behind in Silicon Valley Schools

Written by Joanne Jacobs
With Matt Hammer and Dr. Linda Murray

January 2014

Innovate Public Schools first research report, released in 2013 with an updated edition in 2014, looks at all public schools and districts in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, with special attention on the achievement of underserved groups of students. The purpose was to inspire dialogue, provoke hard discussions, and lead to more urgent improvement in the quality of public education that we offer our children.

We make a promise to our kids – to everyone’s kids. Go to school, work hard and you’ll have a bright future. Anyone can go to college, we say, from the daughter of a Mexican gardener with a fifth-grade education to the son of an engineer with a Stanford PhD. Education is the golden road to opportunity.

For many students in Silicon Valley – especially English Language Learners, low-income students, Latinos, African-Americans and Pacific Islanders – that promise is not being kept.

Each year, thousands of children are falling off the college path. This chart shows how many students graduate in four years with the credits they need to transfer to a state university.

California will face a shortfall of 2.3 million college-educated and technically trained workers by 2025, predicts California Competes. We need to prepare the rising generation to seize 21st-century opportunities – our region’s economic vitality depends on it.

Key Findings

  • Silicon_Valley_college-ready_ratesWe have a region-wide problem: Low percentages of college readiness for Latino,African-American, and Pacific Islander students, as well as low-income students and English Language Learners, across districts in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Individual schools buck the trends, but districts do not.
  • Charter schools are over-represented among the top public schools serving Latino students. Among all schools, charters are three times more likely to be ranked in the top 10%.
  • There are surprises at the top and the bottom. From the perspective of a low-income Latino family looking for good schools, one of the best places to live is now Alum Rock, where there are high-quality charter schools and several of the top district-run schools in the region. On the other hand, the numbers are particularly low in places like Sunnyvale and Berryessa, where less than 10% of Latinos reach proficiency in algebra by 8th grade.
  • Schools at the top of the list have a culture of high expectations, focused on getting every child to grade level and college-ready.

Endorsers of the Second Edition

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