Concord, CA is the largest city in Contra Costa County; it also has one of the largest achievement gaps in the Bay Area. While over 75% of students in the county are on grade level, seven out of ten students in the Monument Corridor are behind. Only 15% of Latino students in the county graduate high school having completed the requisite coursework needed to gain acceptance into a UC university. This means of the 606 Latino students who graduated in 2013, only 91 were college ready.
This lack of college readiness starts early. In Concord, students who attend the lowest performing elementary schools feed into the lowest ranked middle schools, and then to the lowest performing high schools in the county. With a proven track record of beating the odds for our Rocketeers in San Jose, Rocketship is striving to break this cycle in Concord. Rocketship is working to establish a high performing, public charter elementary school in the Monument Corridor neighborhood in 2016. In early June, Rocketship will formally submit a petition to the local school district to establish a charter elementary school in the community.
For the last few months, Rocketship has been learning more about the needs of the community by building partnerships with Concord parents.
Humberto and Isabel Carmona are two of the proud parents who recently joined the Concord Rocketship Parent Team to help bring Rocketship to their neighborhood. Their three-year-old daughter, Alexa, is a reflection of the love they have for one another. Both Humberto and Isabel came to Concord on the hopes and dreams of their families.
Humberto met Isabel in an English class they shared, as he helped her with learning English. Humberto comes from meager beginnings. Originally born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, he has not seen his family for 13 years. The opportunity divide in Guadalajara is immense. “Either your family is very rich, or very poor,” says Humberto.
“If you don’t happen to know someone very high up in the government, a person who comes from a struggling family will have no chance to attend college. It is too expensive.”
Isabel comes from similar beginnings in Oaxaca, Mexico. “It is the same where I am from,” says Isabel. “Only people who have money are able to go to college.”
When Isabel moved to California in 2005, her oldest daughter, Amayrani, stayed in Oaxaca. Isabel fears Amayrani won’t have the chance to attend college, but she hopes one day Amayrani will become a university graduate.
Humberto and Isabel don’t want to leave college up to chance for Alexa, who will soon be preparing to enter kindergarten.
“I want better for our daughter. I have had to go through many things since I have been in this country, and it has been painful at times,” says Isabel.
“I don’t want Alexa to have to go through what I have gone through. I want her to be able to have better opportunities and I know education is the key. She is my little princess, and I want to make sure that she has a good life,” says Humberto.
When Humberto and Isabel learned about Rocketship, they were instantly interested in the opportunity.
“We are learning that kids from our community are not performing well in the schools here. We want to make every effort to make sure that our daughter is successful…Rocketship offers a great opportunity not just for our daughter, but lots of children in this community who need a chance to succeed,” says Humberto.
Humberto and Isabel have been regularly attending parent meetings, and are eager to continue spreading the word about Rocketship in the community and working with new parent leaders. Both look forward to being a part of the upcoming meetings with school board members as they strive to transform their community.
Rocketship is excited to have them both as a part of our parent leadership team!
Teshone Jones comes to Rocketship as an Education Organizer, after extensive experience organizing membership-based public interest groups, as well as faith institutions and schools. She is a North Carolina native, and her organizing journey began during her years as a student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Teshone’s organizing work is inspired by her experience working with elementary school students in the Title I schools of Greensboro, NC. Teshone has come to know that organizing is the only way through which communities of color can advocate for a quality education system and create avenues for sustainable economic opportunity.