Slow & Steady
Slow & Steady – How does a school district go from failing, with the looming threat of a state takeover, to the gold standard for good urban education? The answer is through the hard work and long-term vision of educators and the community, reaching out to parents, providing resources for parents and professional development for teachers. A quarter of a century ago, Union City’s schools were failing. Today, test scores compete with their suburban cousins in reading, writing and math, despite the challenges they face. Union City is the most densely populated city in the country. 80 percent of the students speak Spanish as their first language, and that same amount of students are on free and reduced lunch. In 2011, 89.4 percent of the students graduated…that’s 15 percent higher than the national average. Nearly 60 percent head to college. Many of the staff and administrators who work in the Union City schools walked in the shoes of the students. They were immigrants or children of immigrants, grew up in Union City and then returned to give back to their community. This is a lesson on how unions, administrators and the community can work together to improve the schools.