There is no such thing as “their children” — They are ALL our children: Educate America

Vien Truong graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and a J.D. from the University of California at Hastings College of the Law.  She is the Chair of the City of Oakland’s Planning Commission. She has taught Street Law at Castlemont High School and served as the Community Economic Justice Law Fellow at the East Bay Community Law Center, helping to address the systemic problems confronting low-income communities.


by Vien Truong

As a graduate of Oakland public schools, I am intimately aware of the myriad of problems that plague our under-resourced schools.  Growing up in a city where students are more likely to drop out than to graduate, my teachers thought I was “delusional” for planning to go to college.

Our country is at risk of losing an entire generation of young people in urban centers who feel trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty, violence, hopelessness and despair.  Rather than continually investing in models that try to save the “deserving few” who can escape from these communities, we need solutions that can help the vast majority overcome these toxic conditions to become the responsible and productive adults that will eliminate those conditions.

Students who are regularly dealing with violence, hunger, unstable housing, and the broader effects of poverty and racism are not born bad students.  Rather than working to provide resources and the necessary infrastructure to improve their environment, we have devised ways to blame the students for their environment.  It’s time to try another way.  That’s why I’ve joined a team of amazing leaders to form Roses in Concrete, and, that’s why I’m inviting you to join us.

We are working to create a K-12 school-center in Oakland, CA that will function as a neighborhood center providing wrap-around services in education, health, housing, and job training.  Our long-term goal is to create a model for urban education that prioritizes the needs of youth and families as a pathway to building healthy and sustainable communities across the U.S. and around the world.


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SEE VIDEO of CBS 5′s coverage of the Step to College Annual Youth Research and Cultural Symposium, June 17, 2011.

READ story about Jeff Andrade-Duncan at TED Talks.

Step to College featured on CBS-2 Los Angeles Sunday March 6 at 6:30

Laura Diaz, news anchor for CBS-2 Los Angeles interviewed Jeff Duncan-Andrade, PhD for her special, Eye on Our Community: Taking Back the Classroom.  The special report will air in the Los Angeles area at 6:30 PM Sunday March 6, 2011, right before 60 Minutes.

We are excited that footage from “Roses in Concrete” was used in this piece.  In the coming weeks we’ll be sharing more of our footage here on this website.


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Production begins on “Roses in Concrete”

Award-winning filmmaker Eric Byler is directing the web-based documentary series “Roses in Concrete,” about the ground-breaking success of the Step to College program in Oakland, California.  Byler is collaborating on the project with college students or recent college graduates who are former students of renowned educator Jeff Andrade-Duncan as members of his production and post-production team.  “Our aim is to empower students and former students from Step to College to tell their own stories,” Byler said, “and to demonstrate how the act of story-telling in itself can lead to positive social change.”

Interview subjects include current students, former students, and parents of students and former students.  Filming began on Feb. 10, 2011 and will resume in March.  The first video in the series will be released in early April.  Byler is best known for the films Charlotte Sometimes and 9500 Liberty.

The long-term objective of the project is explore why the Step to College program has been so effective, and encourage community builders to consider innovative approaches to education in America’s inner cities, and in Oakland, California in particular.

As the documentary is being filmed, a series of video clips will be posted on this website.  Please email us at to us to join our our email list in the Contact section and we will alert you to watch the documentary being made in real time.

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Duncan-Andrade on Tucson, AZ ethnic studies controversy

This work-in-progress video refers to Jeff Duncan-Andrade’s research in Tucson, AZ, looking into the remarkable success of the Ethnic Studies program in the Tucson Unified School District. Arizona’s new Attorney General Tom Horne has built his political career by pushing legislation to outlaw this program.  Duncan-Andrade and Horne were scheduled to debate in the summer of 2010, but Horne pulled out abruptly after a rough appearance on CNN.  This interview was conducted shortly thereafter.

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