OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The Harvard Graduate School of Education announced Tuesday that it has selected the Oakland Unified School District to be one of six districts in the country to participate in a new program aimed at improving educational outcomes for all students.

Harvard officials said the multi-year initiative, which is called, “By All Means: Redesigning Education to Restore Opportunity,” seeks to develop comprehensive child well-being and education systems that eliminate the link between children’s socioeconomic status and achievement.

Paul Reville, the founding director of the graduate school’s education redesign lab, said in a statement, “While our recent efforts at education reform have yielded some great successes in certain places, overall we have failed to achieve equity, we have failed to eliminate persistent achievement and success gaps.”

Reville said, “Schools alone, as currently conceived, can’t do the job of educating all children for success” and the effort to eliminate the correlation between a student’s zip code and educational success has failed so far.

He said the mayors and school superintendents in the cities who will participate in the new program “are now re-embracing the challenge and are willing to re-think their child well-being and education systems to achieve the goal of equity.”

Harvard officials said the cities that have been chosen to be part of the “By All Means” consortium have demonstrated a record and a broad conception of their roles in ensuring children’s success.

They said the mayors of the participating cities will work with the education redesign lab to create and lead “Children’s Cabinets” composed of superintendents, heads of health and social services, recreation, cultural and arts activists and other key community leaders.

Working together, the cabinet members will brainstorm and design new and effective strategies aimed at closing the persistent achievement and opportunity gaps for meeting the needs of all children in their communities,
Harvard officials said.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said, “The City of Oakland is proud to be a partner” in the new program.

Schaaf said, “Harvard’s Graduate School of Education is offering an incredible opportunity for the city of Oakland and our partners from the school district to engage with like-minded leaders who are focused on producing real, impactful outcomes for our nation’s young people.”

Schaaf said the partnership will be “invaluable” as Oakland implements an initiative she announced recently to triple the number Oakland public school students who graduate from college and get the skills they need to succeed in the careers of their choice.

Oakland superintendent of schools Antwan Wilson said, “Oakland Unified is forging partnerships to deliver on our mission and vision to build a full service community district where every student thrives. It is an honor to be part of this national cohort partnering with Harvard to learn lessons here that will benefit the city of Oakland and can help communities everywhere.”

The other cities that will participate in the new national program are Louisville, Ky., Providence, R.I., and Salem, Somerville and Newton in Massachusetts.

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