South San Francisco, CA July 6, 2017 by Mel Ellison, ESC Correspondent
Under clear blue skies and brilliant sunshine, an important meeting was held in South San Francisco’s Spruce Elementary School Library this last Monday June 26th, to showcase a vital new summer program called The Big Lift. How important? Important enough to see many busy government leaders, from Mayor Pradeep Gupta and City Manager Mike Futrell, to Board of Education Trustees like Pat Murray and many others take time out of their busy schedules to attend.
So what is the Big Lift? It’s a summer program, funded by various sources including the likes of Google.com, WK Kellogg Foundation, Social Innovation Fund and many others, to improve the quality of education for our youngest and least advantaged students in the district (pre-school through third grade) and to improve their chances of succeeding both academically as well as in life. In the words of one staff member, “The research shows that if children are not reading proficiently by the the third grade it adversely affects their academic trajectory and their life prospects. Before third grade you have to learn to read, and after third grade you have to read in order to learn. Our program is geared toward giving the lower income kids of our county the kind of boost that the better off kids get as a matter of course.”
In short, The Big Lift is a bold social venture that aims to transform early learning. It’s a plan that combines two years of high-quality preschool and programs to reduce chronic absence, to end summer learning loss, and to engage families and the broader community to support learning in school and at home. The plan is for:
(1) sending kids to kindergarten who are ready to learn,
(2) making sure they attend school regularly,
(3) supporting learning at home, and
(4) providing enriching summer experiences so they don’t fall behind.
As stated in their literature, “We need to provide two years of quality preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds in San Mateo County, so every child starts kindergarten ready for school. We also need to do more to help sustain children’s progress as they transition into elementary school and up until third grade. That means providing summer learning programs, so kids don’t lose so much ground when they’re out of school, and solutions that effectively address family engagement and chronic absence.”