Blogby Early Learning Manager Liz Cortez

The Mission Promise Neighborhood, a cradle-to-college, collective-impact initiative, is rolling out an Early Literacy Campaign for families with children ages birth to fifth grade. With only 32 percent of third-grade students and 43 percent of fifth-grade students reaching proficiency in English Language Arts at Mission District schools, there is much more that needs to be done in our community to prepare students for the transition to middle school, high school and beyond. We know that reading and writing does not begin in kindergarten or first grade; developing language and literacy skills begins at birth through everyday interactions, such as sharing books, telling stories, singing songs and talking to one another. And that is why we are starting early — at birth.

The Early Literacy Campaign builds on the existing early literacy work at schools (preschools and elementary schools) and community-based organizations, such as Tandem, Partners in Early Learning. We are also reaching families with young children that are not yet part of an early care and education setting or an elementary school.

How Mission Promise Neighborhood is improving early literacy

  1. Parents building the capacity of parents. Early literacy workshops for parents are led by parents that have received the Literacy Champions Certification through Tandem. A group of parents and promotoras have been certified through this intensive, three-day capacity-building opportunity. In addition to providing a workshop on early literacy, participants of the workshops will receive books and a literacy-rich environments checklist to support the promotion of literacy at home. Over the next year, eight parents and promotoras will become Certified Literacy Champions through Tandem. They will engage 300 parents in early literacy workshops, plus one-to-one conversations where families will receive books and a literacy rich-environment checklist to support the promotion of literacy at home. Parents will sign a pledge, making a commitment to talk, read and sing with their child at least 15 minutes a day, every day. Parents will also pledge to advocate for more and higher-quality early care and education programs.
  2. Promoting the Talk, Read, Sing campaign. The Mission Promise Neighborhood will be partnering with the San Francisco Public Library to leverage the Talk, Read, Sing Campaign as a means to close the “word gap” for Mission children. Harnessing the power of the campaign, we will promote the use of existing routines to encourage parents to talk, read and sing to their children — the foundation for literacy. At the beginning of the 2017-2018 program year, 400 families at the Mission Promise Neighborhood’s four preschool programs will receive Talk, Read, Sing campaign materials to promote literacy in their home and community.
  3. Scaling parent-education programs. In April, and in partnership with First 5 San Francisco, Mission Promise Neighborhood early learning partners will participate in the Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors training. The added staff training will double the amount of families accessing the program by 2018. Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors is the only evidence-based parent education program for Latino parents with children birth to age 5. According to the UC Berkeley Institute of Human Development, this program “empowers them to transform cultural strengths into the tangible tools they need to build solid foundations.” Parents showcase significant increases in their knowledge of language and literacy development, social-emotional development, health development and school preparation.

More families of the Mission Promise Neighborhood have increased the amount of time they are reading to their children and/or encouraging reading outside of school, according to the MPN Neighborhood Survey. In 2016, 77 percent of parents reported reading to their children three or more times a week and 91 percent reported encouraging older children to read outside of school.

Mission Promise Neighborhood is building on this positive trend to ensure that children succeed in school, complete college and have many career options.

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About Mission Promise Neighborhood

The Mission Promise Neighborhood is a citywide community partnership that was created to support kids and families living, working and attending school in the Mission District. It brings together schools, colleges, community organizations and community leaders to help kids graduate and families achieve financial stability.

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Community engagement was one of the aspects of the Promise Neighborhood grant written back in 2012. One of the Mission Promise Neighborhood’s answers to that piece of family success was the creation of a parent leadership group, known as the Mission Parent Council. This group is spearheaded by Laura Olivas.

Parent engagement
Olivas has been working with parents to strengthen their advocacy efforts for themselves and their children — and the Mission community at large. This has led to parents deciding which topics matter to them and identifying the support they need to champion those causes. A recent subject of importance was determined to be Prop N, the Immigrant Parent Right to Vote measure on the San Francisco ballot this Nov. 8.

It’s a startling fact: one-third of San Francisco parents are denied a say in their child’s education simply because they are non-citizens. Prop N would allow such parents to vote on educational matters, specifically in elections for the Board of Education.

To tell their stories, eight Mission parents headed to a San Francisco Board of Education meeting on Tuesday night, where a vote of support was to be taken on the measure. Via heartfelt and powerful explanations of why the Board should vote in favor of Prop N, these parents one by one stepped forward and spoke their truth. This was the first time many had done so in public.

The good news is that there was a unanimous vote of the School Board in favor of Prop N.

The other exciting news is that these parents saw the power of having their voices heard — a message they will share in the community.

Explains Olivas, “An important piece of the Mission Promise Neighborhood’s work is the creation of a college-going culture at home, so I was thrilled to see these parents valiantly taking to the podium and asking for support, as a way to play a larger role in their children’s education. This was a step in the right direction, and I can see that this is going to create something bigger. A movement has started.”

The resolution read by the School Board
Below is the text read Tuesday night. The authors were Board commissioners Matt Haney, Shamann Walton and Sandra Lee Fewer.

SUBJECT: Resolution In Support of Proposition N, Non-Citizen Voting in School Board Elections

WHEREAS: About 283,000 immigrants live in San Francisco — accounting for 35 percent of the population; and

WHEREAS: 54 percent of children in San Francisco have at least one immigrant parent, and 34 percent of households are headed by an immigrant; and

WHEREAS:  27.3 percent (16,070) of all SFUSD students are designated as English Language Learners, one indication of the size of the immigrant population in San Francisco public schools; and

WHEREAS: From 1776 until 1926 in 40 states and federal territories, residents who weren’t citizens could vote in local, state and sometimes federal elections; and

WHEREAS: There is a precedent of municipalities across the country that have passed legislation enfranchising non-citizens, which includes six Maryland municipalities, Chicago, Illinois, Cambridge and Amherst, Mass. (although state enabling legislation is required for implementation); and

WHEREAS: Non-citizen voting is common practice in other nations, with 23 countries allowing some form of non-citizen voting, including Belize, Canada, Denmark, Spain and the United Kingdom; and

WHEREAS: Immigrants who want to become citizens face enormous bureaucratic challenges, waiting an average of 10 years to go through the process to become citizens; and

WHEREAS: This waiting time for many non-citizen parents lasts the duration of their children’s tenure in public schools; and

WHEREAS: Non-citizen parents’ children, many of whom themselves are citizens, benefit with more participation in the democratic process; and

WHEREAS: Non-citizens suffer social and economic inequities, in part, because policymakers can ignore their interests; and

WHEREAS: Non-citizen residents contribute to the economic vitality of San Francisco, by paying taxes, purchasing goods and services, and working in every sector of the economy; and

WHEREAS: Whereas non-citizen residents contribute to the social and cultural vitality of San Francisco by sending their children to schools, developing and participating in the life of their communities through religious and community groups; and

WHEREAS: Non-citizens are not eligible to register to vote, although existing San Francisco residents who are 18 years of age or older, United States citizens and not in prison or on parole for a felony conviction are eligible to register to vote in San Francisco elections, including elections for the Board of Education of the SFUSD; and

WHEREAS: The San Francisco Board of Supervisors (10-1) support Supervisor Mar’s proposal to amend the Charter of the City and County of San Francisco to authorize San Francisco residents who are not United States citizens but who are the parents, legal guardians or caregivers of a child residing in San Francisco to vote in elections for the Board of Education; and

WHEREAS: The voting rights measure, Proposition N, is on the Nov. 8, 2016, ballot as an amendment to the City and County of San Francisco’s charter, and, if passed, the provision authorizing non-citizen voting in Board of Education elections would “sunset’ on Dec. 31, 2022, or the Dec. 31 immediately following the third School Board election conducted under the rules adopted in the Charter amendment, whichever is later; and

WHEREAS: Community-based organizations supporting this measure include Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA), Mission Parent Council, Faith in Action, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), CARECEN, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Mission Neighborhood Centers, Coleman Advocates, Laborers Local 261, La Raza Centro Legal; therefore be it

RESOLVED: The San Francisco Board of Education supports the November 2016 charter amendment to authorize San Francisco residents who are legal voting age and who are the parents, legal guardians, or caregivers for children in the SFUSD to vote in elections for the Board of Education, regardless of whether the resident is a U.S. citizen; and be it further

RESOLVED: The Board of Education is interested in the outcome of any constitutional debates related to citizenship and voting and wishes to be informed of the progress of such actions; and be it further

RESOLVED: The Board of Education is committed to maintaining and enhancing a high level of participation in School Board elections by all eligible voters and opposes any implementation of Prop N that would separate the School Board election from regular ballots and regular elections and therefore calls on the Board of Supervisors and the Department of Elections to implement Prop N, should it pass in November, without removing School Board elections from regular general elections or from regular ballots, and be it further

RESOLVED: If Prop N is passed by the voters and found to be constitutional, the Board of Education urges the Board of Supervisors to consider measures that would allow non-citizen residents of San Francisco to vote in all local elections.

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About Mission Promise Neighborhood

The Mission Promise Neighborhood is a citywide community partnership that was created to support kids and families living, working and attending school in the Mission District. It brings together schools, colleges, community organizations and community leaders to help kids graduate and families achieve financial stability.

Read More

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