Urban Parli is Oakland Born
The city of Oakland is an able educator. Growing up in Oakland allows one a chance to reach out and know the rest of the world. The extraordinary array of culture that is daily on display would be breathtaking if it wasn't the norm. The city is laboratory for tolerance, understanding, and community involvement. This is a great place to grow up.
But Oakland does have problems. And these problems are significantly rooted in race and class. The economic benefits of the city's growth have not been shared equitably. As new construction is booming and property values and rents skyrocket, many find themselves struggling against the current in an effort to get by.
Tens of thousands of Oakland public school students striving for education are taught by thousands of teachers dedicated to the democratic spread of knowledge and the construction of a better world.
But the Oakland public education system finds itself in a difficult situation. According to the Oakland Fund for City and Youth, 75% of Oakland Unified students are eligible for free or reduced lunch programs and over 30% of Oakland Unified schools have student body populations where nearly 100% of enrolled students qualify for free or reduced lunch. The number of children living below the federal poverty level in Oakland has increased to 30% as the city has seen rapid economic development and growth. Many Oakland Unified students live in high-stress neighborhoods which present significant challenges to academic success. The overall graduation rate, while improving, is still only 63%. Needless to say, an underfunded school system fighting against systemic barriers results in the majority of schools lacking the extracurricular activities that are standard at private and well-to-do public schools.
This is where Urban Parli comes in. While we do not necessarily have the answers to the problems the education system faces, we can help develop the people who will find those answers. Urban Parli has the tools that can benefit Oakland students and maybe make, for now, a small, positive change in the status quo. In creating Urban Parli we want to provide a premium educational experience at no cost to Oakland students. This means best-in-class coaching, access to technology, and opportunities to compete at major debate tournaments and invitationals both locally and nationally. Parliamentary debate builds character and confidence, develops critical thinking skills, and creates leaders. More students need access to what is currently an exclusive community and Urban Parli wants to open the door.