By Katia Lopez-Hodoyan
Having the undivided attention of a class filled with elementary school students is a challenge in and of itself for any teacher. Adding the fact that more than half of students are severely behind in reading, writing and mathematics is not only a setback for instructors, it’s also an educational crisis. For years now, Barbara Antinoro has attempted to eradicate this nation wide problem locally by creating and directing the Kid Angel Foundation in San Diego. As non-profit organization that grants tutoring scholarships for children in need, the Kid Angel foundation strives toward eliminating the educational gaps that are at times left vacant by the current education system. Perhaps equally as important, the foundation recognizes the essential role parents play in the successful education of their children by holding parent workshops that delve into the proactive measures one can take in their child’s education.
“The Kid Angel Foundation tries to empower parents with information,” says Barbara Antinorio. Parents need to know that schools are not the same as they used to be when we were young. We can no longer depend solely on the school system when it comes to our children’s education.”
The problem with the previous notion is that few families have the monetary means to hire outside tutoring services for their children. Seen by many as an expensive luxury, outside tutoring can prove to be a financial burden for families with limited spare income. Because of this, Kid Angel offers tutoring scholarships for children who are skill wise one year behind their actual grade level. In conjunction with the San Diego Learning Center, Kid Angel has been able to provide children with both the individual attention and financial means to improve their proficiency in the given curriculum.
However, households are not the only entity with financial limitations. The current California budget crisis has led to numerous cuts in the education system, which has in turn only aggravated deficiencies that were already present in public schools. In San Diego County alone around $115 million were cut from the education system, which according to Antinoro equals to about $1,000 less in programs and materials per student.
“Teachers are faced with having to do more with less. They are simply overwhelmed with overcrowding in schools” said Antinoro. “ Computers, new books, extra curricular activities and tutoring services have all been cut due to the fiscal crisis.”
Part of this blemished cycle though is due to the powerful effect of parental indifference. Last February Kid Angel organized a parent workshop in the Barrio Logan area where about 7,000 flyers were posted throughout the neighborhood. Disappointingly, the day of the event 15 parents showed up to the workshop. In a largely low-income community with a population of 80 percent Hispanics and 20 percent blacks, the vast importance of education is often downplayed into a mere pastime. As a foundation that targets low income and immigrant communities in San Diego County, Kid Angel tries to reach those who are often left behind in the education system.
“We want to help low income children,” said Antinoro. “ But before we can do that parents need to understand that they need to help too by taking interest in their child’s education.”
Such is the case of the Miranda family, where a single Hispanic mother heads her household by caring for her 10 children. Ranging in age from seven to 19 years of age, two of the children Erasmo and Andrea (currently in 4th and 5th grade) were recipients of Kid Angel tutoring scholarships, which amounted to over $1,000 each. Their personal and educational growth has been unmatched according to their mentor Michelle Wright who assures that their tutoring sessions have had a wonderful impact on the family.
“Education equals opportunity which in turn equals more choices,” said Wright.” Kid Angel, The Learning Center and myself are trying to teach the children that learning can be fun and fruitful.”
In addition, two other children in the Miranda household were able to transfer schools through the Voluntary Ethnic Enrollment Program (VEEP) which allowed them to continue their education in an institution that offered greater opportunities as well as a stable environment.
An increasing amount of children are seeking the multiple services provided by Kid Angel. However, the lack of funding has forced board directors to pay for the tutoring grants on the company’s credit card. Antinoro admits that recognition is slow and often frustrating. Nonetheless the foundation’s mission to increase children’s supplemental education regardless of their financial background remains solid.
“Assisting children with their education is a great way to see growth in others,” said Wright. “ It’s also a great way to help yourself.”
The next Kid Angel parental seminar will take place next Sunday the 25th of April at the San Diego Learning Center, located at 1072 Third Ave, Suite B, Chula Vista from 1:30pm-4:00pm. For more information on how the get involved or on how to sponsor a child please visit www.kidangel.org or call (858) 715-6610