Unconditional Education is about partnering with schools to create innovative programs that serve high-needs students in effective, inclusive, and individualized ways. It’s about disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline whereby students are pushed out of “mainstream”/general education spaces and into more restrictive settings, or where students internalize a sense of hopelessness regarding their ability to succeed academically and leave school altogether. It is providing more and more opportunities for students to be integrated into their greater school communities instead of being segregated, “othered,” marginalized, or left behind. It is working intentionally to undo the biases that drive and perpetuate the enormous gaps in educational opportunities and achievement that exist in our country’s schools across identity groups.
One of my favorite parts of this work is starting new school partnerships where we co-create programs and supports that operationalize those ambitions and intentions. This year our program is grateful to have that opportunity to co-create with the school leaders and staff of KIPP Bridge Rising in West Oakland. This is a school community that holds their location with pride, near DeFramery Park (aka Lil Bobby Hutton Memorial Park), where the Black Panther Party so often gathered to organize, innovate, and envision during their era.
Student supports and programs in the fall of 2020 are, of course, unique and distinct from any other chapter of history. Now more than ever school communities must take a holistic view in supporting students and families. In our KIPP Bridge Rising partnership, Clinical Intervention Specialist Makalah Fleming-McElroy is emphasizing the importance of considering the hierarchy of needs as we design supports and interventions for students and families. Across our Bay Area partnerships, we’re committed to expanding the range of our services as much as possible in this uniquely challenging time, to increase vital case management services and resource support to families experiencing food insecurity, housing instability, lack of access to technology, and challenges with other foundational basic needs. With resonance and respect to the Ten Point Platform of the Black Panther Party (as relevant in 2020 as it was when Huey Newton and Bobby Seale wrote it in 1966), we’re working to braid together the threads of physical, economic, and emotional wellness - all of which are required in order for academic engagement and success to occur.
All-In! Partnership Team