Campaign for High School Equity Calls on California and Federal Policy Makers to Address Dropout Crisis

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sat Dec 6 15:26:20 UTC 2008

Campaign for High School Equity Calls on California and Federal Policy
Makers to Address Dropout Crisis

Last update: 5:00 a.m. EST Dec. 5, 2008
SAN DIEGO, Dec 05, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Civil
rights coalition releases white paper emphasizing inequities in
education; high school accountability, data reporting, and student
performance among policy reform priorities
The Campaign for High School Equity (CHSE), a coalition of leading
civil rights groups working for education reform, today gathered
education and civil rights leaders at a policy briefing to discuss
recommendations from its white paper, "High School Policy Reform: A
Plan for Success."
At the briefing, held to coincide with the California School Boards
Association's annual education conference, CHSE sent an urgent message
to state legislators and Congress: Education policies that hold high
schools accountable and give schools the resources to adequately
prepare students for college and the modern workforce are necessary to
improve graduation rates, reverse dropout trends, and strengthen the

The California dropout crisis has reached epidemic proportions, which
is reflective of national trends. Ten percent of California's high
schools are considered dropout factories --- schools where more than
60 percent of the freshman class fails to graduate in four years. And
while 70 percent of all California students graduate, two out of every
five African American and Latino students do not, and more than 50
percent of California's Cambodian, Laotian, and Hmong students did not
graduate in 2000 according to the California Department of Education.
Nationwide, only 50 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native, 55
percent of African American, and 57 percent of Latino students
graduate from high school each year compared to more than 75 percent
of white students.

"The economic crisis that is looming large in California and across
the country is inextricably connected to education policy," said
Michael Wotorson, CHSE executive director. "A high-quality high school
education represents real dollars and employability, especially vital
to the financial health of California, a state that has one of the
world's largest economies. We can't afford to wait any longer for
education policies that hold high schools accountable for graduating
every student and preparing them for college and the 21st century
According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, the nearly 162,000
non-graduates from California's class of 2008 will forgo more than $40
billion in lifetime earnings. If California can raise the graduation
and college enrollment rates of students of color to the levels of
their white peers by 2020, the state would see more than $101 billion
injected into its economy. Nationally, the same increase in graduation
rates would add, conservatively, more than $310.4 billion to the U.S.

Jack O'Connell, superintendent, California Department of Public
Instruction; Ramon Miramontes, dean of Academic Affairs, Los Angeles
Southwest College and Los Angeles district director, League of United
Latin American Citizens (LULAC); Ray King, president and CEO, Urban
League of San Diego County; Phoumy Sayavong, PhD, senior researcher,
Oakland Unified School District; and Carmen Iniguez, statewide
campaign director, Californians for Justice, joined Wotorson and
political, education, and civil rights leaders from across California
at the briefing, where they emphasized the importance of high school

"High School Policy Reform: A Plan for Success," offers specific
policy recommendations to eliminate the achievement gap and increase
graduation rates for every student. These recommendations include:
    --  requiring the public reporting of data broken down by racial and ethnic
        background in order to highlight subgroups of students;
    --  holding high schools accountable for increasing graduation rates for all
        student subgroups and considering graduation rates on an equal footing
        with high-quality assessments aligned to college and work readiness;
    --  improving student reading and math skills without sacrificing access to
        high-level academic subjects;
    --  giving students excellent teachers, and helping parents play a greater
        role in their children's education; and
    --  ensuring that federal policy provides sufficient resources to serve the
        needs of all students, including English language learners.

"The No Child Left Behind Act and other legislative vehicles provide
systems to improve educational opportunities for every student,
especially students of color," said Brent A. Wilkes, executive
director of LULAC, a CHSE partner. "For example, California can ensure
that students of color in high-need schools have access to the same
quality instruction as students in affluent areas by gathering and
openly reporting school data that show differences in achievement and
graduation rates by race, ethnicity, and income."

CHSE is a coalition of leading civil rights organizations representing
communities of color that is focused on high school education reform.
Members include the National Urban League, National Council of La
Raza, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People,
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund, Mexican American
Legal Defense and Educational Fund, League of United Latin American
Citizens, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed
Officials Educational Fund, Alliance for Excellent Education, National
Indian Education Association, and Southeast Asia Resource Action

CHSE is a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

SOURCE Campaign for High School Equity
Copyright (C) 2008 PR Newswire. All rights reserved

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