Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited San Antonio last month to participate in a town hall discussion on how the President’s Promise Zone initiative is helping the city’s Eastside community create ladders of opportunity to ensure that all children can achieve social mobility. San Antonio is one of five Promise Zones announced earlier this year, and one of three in which Promise Neighborhoods, a program of the Office of Innovation and Improvement, are playing an integral role.
Since 2010, the Eastside Promise Neighborhood has worked to improve educational opportunities for the community’s children, beginning with preschool education. And the efforts are paying off, according to Secretary Duncan, who noted a reduction in chronic absenteeism for 8th graders from 33 percent to 8 percent and an increase in graduation rates at Sam Houston High School from 46 to 84 percent. ”Where a whole community embraces the importance of education,” he noted, “that sets an example for the rest of the nation.”
The Promise Zones take a comprehensive approach to community revitalization, with the efforts in San Antonio spanning job creation and workforce training, public safety, and education. The education strategies include: infusing a P-12 STEM focus in the Eastside schools; expanding enrollment in Early College Programs; improving adult education opportunities; and increasing enrollment in high-quality pre-K programs.
The benefits of quality pre-K were epitomized at the outset of the town hall, when 4-year-old Mauricio, a student at the Tynan Early Childhood Education Center, stole the show with his welcome and introduction of Secretary Duncan. He stood tall on a step stool at the podium and, with incredible poise, thanked the secretary, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, and the parents and community for visiting his school, concluding his prepared remarks with this: “We appreciate all you do to help us with our journey on becoming responsible students and citizens.”
Click here to learn more about Mauricio’s remarks and how his eloquence and success symbolizes the progress of one of the new Promise Zones.