Education Equity

Students & Parents call on School & City Officials to Protect Families

San Jose Unified School Board will be voting on a resolution that they believe expresses their commitment to protect immigrant families.  Join us to ensure this resolution is strong. 

La Junta Escolar Unificada de San José votará en una resolución que ellos creen expresa un compromiso a incluir y proteger a todos las familias inmigrantes. ¡Esperamos que Ud. se una a nosotros para asegurarse de que esta resolución sea poderosa!.

¡Educación Excelente para TODOS nuestros hijos en SJUSD!

El 7 de junio, padres, funcionarios escolares elegidos y miembros de la comunidad reunieron e la Parroquia del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús con la creencia de que todos nuestros hijos merecen de recibir educación excelente. Necesitamos trabajar juntos para crear un cambio positivo ahora - nuestros niños no pueden esperar!

On June 7, 2016, PACT Parent Leaders brought elected officials from San Jose Unified School District and the County Board of Education to discuss parent involvement in the schools, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and concerns about lack of credentialed teachers in every classroom.

Community Action for Education - Acción Comunitaria para Educación

Last week, parents, elected school officials and community members gathered at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish with the belief that all our children deserve an excellent education that provides the bestopportunities for our families. And we cannot wait one minute for needed changes in our schools. 

Parent Leaders in Morgan Hill - Padres Líderes en Morgan Hill

Parent Leaders in Morgan Hill - Padres Líderes en Morgan Hill

Two years ago, Latino parents in Morgan Hill were beginning to lose hope for their children’s future.  They had served in their schools parent groups, volunteered in the classrooms and met with teachers and administrators, concerned about what they were witnessing for their own children: low expectations. 

Hace dos años, los padres latinos en Morgan Hill estaban empezando a perder esperanza por el futuro de sus hijos. Ellos sirvieron en grupos de padres de la escuela, se ofrecieron en los salones y conocieron a los maestros y administradores porque estaban preocupados para sus hijos: expectativas bajas.

Start Up Education

I am so proud to be a resident of San Jose. With all the draconian budget cuts, layoffs in government and education it is easy to be depressed. Yet, San Jose is a shining example of a city that can still think strategically in down times while inspiring hope for a better future for all. This municipal strength is thanks in large measure to the organizing skills of People Acting In Community Together.

PACT Grassroots Leaders transforming education in San Jose

Last Friday PACT took another huge step forward in transforming education in San Jose so that all kids have access to a path to college.

Over 300 community members gathered at St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church to push for a systemic approach to addressing the dropout crisis in the East Side Union High School District. ESUHSD lost 1,311 students in a single year - the equivalent of a whole comprehensive high school!

At PACT's community action meeting, School District Trustees Manuel Herrera and Eddie Garcia committed to reducing the dropout rate by 10% each year.  This will save about 130 youth and bring the District approximately $1 million in additional revenue annually! 

Also, County Supervisor Dave Cortese committed Prop 63 funding for new mental health workers at East Side schools. 

Both the Trustees and Supervisor Cortese committed to supporting the opening of more high-performing charter schools, including providing facilities.

Tuesday's Mercury News Editorial, "Surge of charter schools coming to Silicon Valley, whether districts like it or not", highlights the results of our work - thousands of organized parents, students, educators demanding great schools for our kids.

Thank you for your support!

Amelida Castillo, Bertha Hernandez, Nhut Ho, Nora Lopez, Chano Mendoza, Maggie Madueño, Isabelle Nannini and Cora Tomalinas with Fr. Steven Brown and Steve Kim

PACT's St. Maria Goretti Local Organizing Committee


San Jose dropouts cost community millions

Kids dropping out of San Jose schools in just one year may go on to commit 534 violent crimes a year and suffer $200 million in lost wages over their lifetimes, in addition to costing the community millions in health care costs and lost productivity, according to a new study released Thursday.

The California Dropout Research Project is the first to look at dropout rates for 17 major cities in California, then calculate the crime, health care and economic effects for each community. And unlike state data, which includes only high school dropouts, the new study includes figures for middle schools and projects the consequences for students who drop out.

Statewide, for every three students who graduated high school in 2006-07, one dropped out. For San Jose, the figure was slightly less, three dropouts for every 10 graduates, or 2,328 dropouts.

Thursday's study took state data for 2006-07 — the latest figures available — and used previous research to extrapolate the consequences of kids not earning their high school diplomas.

"We're interested in what happens to them in entering the economy. We don't care what grade they drop out of," said Russell Rumberger, professor of education at the University of California-Santa Barbara and director of the project.

The economic losses from one year of dropouts, or 123,651 students statewide in 2006-07 — amount to $24.2 billion over their lifetime, the study estimates. Nearly half of that, or $11.7 billion, is due to lost wages, because graduates earn more. For San Jose, the lifetime losses are estimated to be $399.1 million, more than half in lost earnings. The study also listed health care costs, $5.3 million for San Jose alone, which are picked up by taxpayers for underemployed residents who more often rely on public assistance. Furthermore, the study estimates that, based on previous accepted research, cutting the dropout rate in half for just one year in San Jose would eliminate 267 aggravated assaults and homicides annually.

Many in the community see the high costs of dropping out. When more kids quit school, the crime rate goes up, said Art Meza, a San Jose father of five who has been lobbying for better schools on San Jose's East Side. One way to do that, he believes, is through small and charter schools that better engage children and create closer relationships with teachers, he said.

He's involved in PACT, a group that has lobbied successfully for such small and charter schools in the Alum Rock School District and more recently has taken on the dropout crisis. Last week PACT — People Acting in Community Together — extracted pledges from two board members to reduce the dropout rate by 10 percent in the East Side Union High School District, where the rate is 19.4 percent. In 2006-07, East Side reported that 1,311 of its students had dropped out.

Nearly 1,000 county students, many who've been expelled from their home schools, attend alternative schools instead. However, they're in constant danger of dropping out and quitting the system entirely. The county is revamping its alternative school system, county Superintendent Charles Weis said, to better focus on students and train them for jobs.

"The real solution is to treat each student as an individual, and have adults around them who care about them," he said. A critical year is ninth grade, Weis and Rumberger agreed.

"Kids who fail classes in ninth grade are much more likely not to graduate," Rumberger said. San Jose Unified, which Rumberger held up as exemplary in tackling the dropout problem, tries to detect kids at risk of dropping out when they are still in the early elementary grades.

The district's dropout rate is 10.5 percent. What's needed to keep students in school, Superintendent Don Iglesias said, are "a sense of connectiveness, high expectations, relationships with teachers, sports and arts — having quality alternative programs for students who are struggling." He added, "The irony is all those things statewide are at risk" with the budget crisis.

Rumberger said the focus of the study was not to rehash dropout rates, but to alert communities to the cost of kids leaving school. The result of students dropping out, Weis said, is "kids whose lives will be dramatically different and will make the lives of the rest of us dramatically different."

Community hopes to end negative cycle

San Jose Mercury News

Life has not been easy for Priscilla Camacho, who is from East San Jose. She joined a gang at the age of 14, sold drugs to pay bills and became addicted to crystal methamphetamine."I never got to be kid," Camacho said. She was told by her teachers that she was a piece of garbage and will never get anywhere in life. "One of them told me that he didn't care if I completed my homework because he was going to be getting paid anyway."

Camacho was one of several community members who attended a community meeting on Friday, April 3rd, to ask elected officials to take action to stop East Side Union High Schools' dropout and crime crisis, and economic decline. The elected officials were East Side Union High School District Trustees Manuel Herrera and Eddie Garcia, and Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese. The community asked the officials to make an effort to reduce the drop out rate in East San Jose high schools by ten percent each year and approve funds to provide one additional mental health worker for each high school in the district.

"In East San Jose, 1,311 students dropped out of high school last year," reported community member Amelida Castillo. "That is enough to fill an entire school. The students need counselors to guide them through the difficult times in their lives. "According to People Acting in Community Together (PACT), San Jose lost $34 million in funds due to students who drop out of high school and end up living a life of crime. Each dropout cost society itself $2.1 million throughout his or her lifetime.

The community also asked the officials to support charter schools as an alternative to low-performing large schools in the district.

However, East Side Trustee Eddie Garcia said that though charter schools perform better than other schools in the district, they are not the answer to solving the drop out crisis in the district.

"Charter schools are small," Garcia said. "We need to find ways to meet the needs of 26,000 students. "As for Priscilla Camacho, she is currently attending Apollo High School and plans on attending college to become an electrician. She also plans on going back to visit the teachers that told her she would not succeed in life.

"I want to show them that I succeeded against all odds," Camacho said.

The People Acting in Community Together organization is a multi-ethnic, inter-faith grassroots organization that empowers everyday people to create a more just community.

The organization's volunteers work in partnership with public officials to improve health, education, housing, safety and general well being of people in Santa Clara County. It is a multi-issue and non-partisan organization.

To get involved with People Acting in Community Together, visit their Web site at, or call (408) 998-8001.