Closing the Opportunity Gap: Prioritizing Schools in Planning for Sustainable Communities

BCLI Issues and Advocates Speaker Series
Closing the Opportunity Gap: Prioritizing Schools in Planning for Sustainable Communities

September 21, 2011

Closing the Opportunity GapSupportive, inclusive educational institutions are essential for vibrant, equitable communities, and access to opportunity-rich education provides a means by which socially and economically marginalized community members can improve quality of life. As we plan for growth within the Bay Area region, we must prioritize high-quality schools as a key feature of sustainable communities.

In addition to classroom education, the level of student opportunity is informed by where and how students and their parents sleep and eat, how they travel to and from school, and the environment that surrounds and supports (or does not support) their general well-being. Equitable decision making on behalf of community education, therefore, includes paying careful attention to those elements outside of the school itself that can greatly impact students' abilities to succeed. Economically stable communities with opportunities for affordable family housing, healthy neighborhoods with clean air, dependable transportation for both students and working parents, and safe routes to school for students who walk or ride bikes are just a few of many factors that can support student success.

Focusing primarily on land use, housing, and transportation, our panelists identify key issues in equitable decision making in planning for opportunity-rich schools in the Bay Area in the face of anticipated high regional population growth. As a group, we share policies and strategies that decision makers and advocates can use to ensure that our growth strategies are sustainable, equitable, and address the needs of low-income families and communities of color.

Read the speakers' bios and hear the podcast of their presentation:

*Jeffrey Vincent, Deputy Director, Center for Cities & Schools
*Marisa Raya, Regional Planner, Association of Bay Area Governments
*Vu-Bang Nguyen, Land Use Coordinator, Urban Habitat