In the first joint meeting of the council and the school board since 1999, the Sacramento City Council and the Sacramento City Unified School Board committed to working towards a Regional College Promise program that will attempt to get more high school students to go to college.
According to the City Council and School Board report, 68 percent of all jobs in California will require a postsecondary degree by 2020. By 2030, the state of California will be short 1.1 million workers with bachelor’s degrees — the College Promise Program aims to tackle that problem.
City and School Board staff will engage various partners across the city — community colleges, universities like UC Davis and UC Merced, and local businesses — to discuss how they can collaborate to improve the numbers of Sacramento youth that go to college. And while Tuesday’s meeting involved only the School Board, members made it clear they were looking to involve more school boards, as well as Sacramento County.
The details of the program are still unclear. The official agreement that partners will sign isn’t due until September 2019, but the hope is that by next year partners across the region will have a solid plan to push make Sacramento’s youth college- and career-ready.
“The school district and the city are starting the discussion, but there are a lot of partners we have to bring into this,” said Andrew Kehoe, a civic engagement liaison in the Office of Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who worked on the resolution.
But during the joint meeting, members of the community asked the council and the board what, exactly, the program was promising to students most in need.
“While I am excited to hear about the Sacramento promise, I’m afraid it will not be accessible to many Sacramento youth,” said Chris Logan, a pastor at Hope United Methodist Church, during public comment. “Where is the promise for black students? What focused efforts have we made to target black students to meet their specific needs?”
Logan’s worry were echoed by many others during the meeting. Concerns were raised about the lack of focus the program had on making sure students were prepared for college when they went, the fact that minority students are often the ones who don’t make it to college and how the city would help undocumented students.
“You can’t promise nobody nothing that you don’t have,” said Loreen Pryor, president of the Black Youth Leadership Project.
During the public comment, the council and the board sat and listened. After, they expressed appreciation for the voices they heard. And then they unanimously voted to approve the resolution that would direct staff to have a completed College Promise Program by September 2019, with assurances that the program would mean a better future for all Sacramento youth.
“This is not the end result,” said Michael Minnick, the School Board’s second vice president. “This document is really the beginning.”