Oakland Promise aims to increase city's college graduates

By: | February 10, 2016

Libby Schaaf, mayor of Oakland, established in January the Oakland Promise, a project with more than 100 community partners working to triple the number of the city’s low-income, public school students who go on to graduate college.

Over the next decade, 55,000 college savings accounts (totaling $14 million) will be opened for children born into poverty and $100 million in scholarships will be awarded; expectations are that 17,000 low-income students will also enroll for college during that period.

The program is expected to cost $38 million to operate for the first four years, and then $35 million annually; $25 million has been raised to date.

Roger Freeman, superintendent of Littleton Elementary School District in Arizona, has led the district in improving student achievement and professional development. He says he was inspired by the Arizona Ready-for-Rigor Project, which was established to increase teacher and principal effectiveness while creating performance-based compensation systems.

In January, Freeman was named a Partner of Distinction by the Arizona State University School Partnership Grant Programs Advisory Council in conjunction with the 2015 Educational Excellence Impact Awards.

Michelle King was named superintendent of Los Angeles USD in January. King was born and bred in Los Angeles, having graduated from LAUSD and spending her 31-year career in the district, serving as an assistant principal, principal, chief instructional officer for secondary education, chief of staff for former superintendent Ramon C. Cortines, deputy superintendent and chief deputy superintendent.

King has led instructional reform plans to help more students graduate and improve academically, and led the district’s restorative justice initiative, which has significantly reduced suspensions and expulsions.

Chad Miller, principal of Homer Davis Elementary School in Flowing Wells, Arizona, rose from assistant principal to principal at the school of high academic achievement where nearly all 500 students qualify for free or reduced-cost lunch and often have additional challenges.

For his work at the school, in January Miller was named a 2016 Exemplary Principal by the Rodel Foundation of Arizona, a nonprofit dedicated to improving public education. The award comes with a $1,500 prize and the opportunity to mentor aspiring principals.

Mark T. Bedell takes over as superintendent of Kansas City Public Schools, effective July 1. He plans to establish one-to-one mentoring in Kansas City schools, similar to the program he started in Baltimore County Public Schools.

The Rochester, N.Y., native has been the assistant superintendent for high schools in Baltimore since 2012. Bedell is credited with raising Baltimore County’s graduation rate to 89 percent (up from 82 percent) in four years.