6th graders promised enrollment in 2015
February 4, 2009 1:20 PM
For the first time in California, more than 200 sixth graders from San Francisco schools were promised admission to SF State by Mayor Gavin Newsom and SF State President Robert A. Corrigan.
The future class of 2015, represented by Horace Mann, A.P. Gianini and Martin Luther King Middle Schools, filled the North Light Court of San Francisco City Hall on Tuesday at an introduction ceremony for SF Promise, a program that guarantees admission to SF State for all sixth grade students in San Francisco public schools who meet the university's eligibility requirements.
"At a time when the CSU system is cutting funding and admissions, San Francisco is doing its part to ensure that our city's children are guaranteed a college education," Newsom said.
The mayor added that San Francisco is the first city in California to have this kind of program, which he called a "public partnership" between the CSU system, the San Francisco Unified School District and the City and County of San Francisco. All three groups, along with private and public donations, jointly fund SF Promise.
SF Promise aims to impact the approximately 3,500 sixth grade students in the school district. According to a news release from the mayor's office, it is designed to target students who are performing below average accademically, from low income families or are first generation colege students. One of its goals is to raise the sixth graders' GPA up to 3.0 in order to meet SF State's eligibility requirement. It will also provide financial aid to those who need it.
Hydra Mendoza, Newsom's educational adviser, said that the idea for the program began with conversations among Newsom, Corrigan and SFUSD Superintendent Carlos Garcia, along with former CSU trustee Roberta Achtenberg, about "getting kids to university and bringing more families to San Francisco."
"If [families] know their kids can go to college, they'll come here," Mendoza said. "It's also about increasing graduation rates and dealing with dropout rates in the city's schools."
In his speech, Corrigan commended Newsom for "saying [students] are important" and encouraged the young audience by telling them they are "the future workforce. [They] must have the right education now."
Superintendent Garcia, while speaking on the importance of higher education, told a personal story about how his seventh grade teacher pushed him to be successful. "Who would've thought a poor kid from [Los Angeles] would someday become president of the San Francisco Unified School District?" The students, all clad in white SF State shirts and greeted with a large banner that read "Class of 2015," expressed their excitement over the guarantee of higher education.
The mayor, Corrigan, Garcia and their teachers handed "Certificates of guarantee" to the students.
"It's a great honor to accept this [guarantee] and grasp it in your hands," said Joseph Malepeai, a 6th grade student from Martin Luther King middle school, in a speech that roused a passionate response from his classmates. "It's an opportunity to get what you want."
Another student, Darius Thomas from Horace Mann, said, "I'm looking forward to going to college."
Teachers and parents, some of whom were present at the program, also expressed their excitement. "It's a great opportunity for all the kids, like a dream come true," said Derrek Bryson, 6th grade teacher at Martin Luther King.
Chris Jackson, City College of San Francisco trustee and SF State alumnus, said that he also wants to get the City College more involved in the program by getting more staff members involvedand by providing more education support services for their students who wish to transfer to four-year institutions.
"We want to make City College an important educational option," he said.
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