Equity and AccessA PreK-3 Partnership
PreK-3, a national movement to more closely link pre-kindergarten to elementary school pro- grams, has emerged as a promising strategy for closing the achievement gap that begins with our youngest students. While studies have shown that high quality preschool programs position children for school success, they have also revealed that these gains often fade out by third grade.
San Francisco Unified School District has embraced a PreK-3 model across the district as part of its strategic plan. This plan, “Beyond the Talk,” is premised on the belief that the achievement gap is that greatest social justice/civil rights issue facing U.S. schools in the 21st century.
“Quality early childhood education programs are the single most effective means of ensuring all children have an opportunity to be successful in achieving their academic pursuits,” said SFUSD superintendent Richard A. Carranza. “It is the educational vehicle for equity and access for students.”
Former SFUSD principal Raymond Isola and University of San Francisco professor Helen Maniates, co-authors of this article, formed a school-university partnership to support early education teachers to lay the foundation for a PreK-3 model at Sanchez Elementary School in San Francisco.
Aligning pre-K and elementary programs
During Isola’s tenure over the severe budget cuts of school years from 2009-12, we leveraged the expertise of Sanchez early education teachers and paraprofessionals – in conjunction with faculty and teaching credential candidates from the USF Teacher Education Department – to deepen the quality of Sanchez programs in preparation for aligning the on-site pre-kindergarten program with the elementary grades. Our strategic partnership was bolstered by the shared commitment of the school district and the university to provide all students access to vital educational services.