Closing Racial Disparities in Access to Education
Talent is equally distributed across young people in our community, however, opportunity is not. Though this is tied to larger nationwide issues, we will start here in Bexar County to change outcomes for local young people. Since 2009, UP Partnership actively serves as the backbone organization to various institutions including school districts, postsecondary education partners, local government and other education-focused nonprofits to ensure all students in our community are prepared for the future.
As the backbone, we lead in convening our partners so that we can collectively coordinate data, align pathways and promote policy change so that all students are able to succeed.
Together, we not only relish our successes, but learn from the times we have “failed forward” by sharing lessons each of us have learned along the way.
Through some of these lessons learned, we and our partners collectively identified the need to establish a communitywide plan to ensure all young people in Bexar County are ready for the future, which is called the Future Ready Bexar County Plan.
With a north star goal of increasing postsecondary enrollment of Bexar County High School graduates in a degree or credential program to 70% by 2030, UP Partnership—alongside its partners in the nine sectors of early childhood, preK12, postsecondary education, youth development, workforce, justice, funders, corporate partners and local government leaders—will use data and metrics to develop solutions that will aid in the success of Bexar County’s young individuals guided by racial equity pillars of healing, access and voice.
We want the voices of young people to be heard and have their leadership potential nurtured. Our Future Ready vision will activate adults, the community, and youth-serving systems to prepare the next generation of leaders. When young people can identify their needs and apply their problem solving efforts, they’re better able to contribute to advocacy efforts on their own behalf. This way our young community will be prepared to join and influence decision making tables while also giving them the credit and implementation support they need.
Young people deserve every opportunity to become their best selves. With the right support, they can achieve great things in life. But their potential is often hindered by systemic obstacles. We believe that these obstacles are holding back a generation of youth and our community as a whole. We aim to change this and give kids all the opportunities they deserve.
These problems include: economic segregation and harsh disciplinary measures, for which UP Partnership’s partners are providing direct service measures to try and improve.
Problem: Economic Segregation
Economic segregation is measured by how evenly economically sound and underprivileged children are distributed within the U.S. public school system. Research shows that Black and Latinx students are more likely to attend schools with high levels of economic disadvantage compared to White and Asian students. These results have been shaped by federal and state housing policies and through a history of discrimination. These opportunity youth also experience unequal access to the same resources and learning opportunities as students from wealthier backgrounds. What this ultimately means is that school poverty rates are a key measure with educational learning and achievement.
How UP Partnership is addressing issues with equal access
This starts with a shared community vision. We want to ensure that all young students have access to education and the career opportunities they deserve. Our systematic plan will support these young individuals in enrollment and succession in postsecondary programs to reach the ultimate goal of attaining a prosperous career. With UP Partnership partner support, these students will have access to technology and high quality out-of-school-time programs. Additionally, with the help of the systems and organizations involved with UP Partnership, we will implement outreach and engagement strategies to connect young people to school and living wage opportunities.
Problem: Disciplinary Measures
Research has shown that childhood misbehavioral issues like aggression, can actually predict higher earnings later on in life. Yet, there is a disproportion regarding disciplinary measures when misbehavior occurs in schools within different racial groups. It has been found that Black children face harsher penalties for acting out on the same levels of behavior externalization compared to their White peers. For the children in lower income markets, exhibiting this type of external behavior finds no benefits, while White students have been shown to benefit from this form of expression in their fields.
To succeed, young people need to have access to restorative justice practices and healing support. Far too many of them get held back by punitive disciplinary measures and unjust systems that negatively impact their future opportunities. These individuals need to be given the support to overcome trauma and elevate their strength and resilience. UP Partnership teaches restorative justice practices to our partners that aid educators in keeping these young individuals connected to their school without providing harsh punishment.
How UP Partnership is addressing disciplinary measures in school environments
UP partnership is here to ensure all students part of this San Antonio community are prepared for the future and given the right tools to do so. We coordinate data, align pathways and promote policy change so that all students are able to surpass these negative statistics and succeed.