Oakland’s Literacy Crisis, the New Literacy for All Coalition, and How You Can Help

Oakland has a literacy crisis and it is most acute in the in the Black and Brown communities. Only 18.6% of Black students in OUSD are reading on grade level, and 23.8% of Latinx students are, overall less than half of all Oakland students are proficient readers. In the same district where less than 1 in 5 Black children can read, almost 3 in 4, 72.5%, of White children are meeting or exceeding standards. And that gap has only grown over the last 5 years.

Again, think about it: The inequity is getting worse.  Edsource crunched the numbers.

This is a crisis, and in the new Oakland there will not be a place for these children or their parents. More importantly, we know how to actually fix this problem; by providing better, more consistent, scientifically based instruction, and authentically engaging the whole family. 

Please sign this petition to support. We all need to come together to change this, and we can. 

A New Coalition Forms with a New Focus

This sense of urgency brought together Oakland’s Literacy for All Campaign, a partnership of grassroots community and literacy organizations, including the Oakland REACH and the Oakland NAACP, as well as the school district, many charter networks, and the State of Black Education in Oakland (which I co-founded) to name a few. We are driving a citywide campaign for literacy, focused not only on our students in the early grades, but the literacy needs of every family member, adults and children—Literacy for All.

We have fought for the right to sit in schools that don’t teach us, earned the right to sit at lunch counters where our children can’t read the menu, and access to colleges where we don’t generally qualify for admission. Meanwhile, the city is emptying of Black folks and the streets are filling up with them. There is no place in the new Oakland for our children if they can’t read—except the streets, cells, or long commutes to menial jobs, with little security and even less agency.

Dr. King said that “Human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability, it comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work.” This is work too long delayed, and a dream too long deferred. It is time to make that dream of Dr. King’s a reality, and to invoke the freedom that literacy for all can bring.

To support the Literacy for All campaign, sign our petition now.

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