Tired of the alarming student drop-out rate in South and East Los Angeles, a coalition demands that all high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District offer its students a rigorous study plan under the “A-G” requirements: necessary to be eligible to enter a four-year university, but something many students do not even know about.
The “A-G” requirements are 15 courses required of students who wish to continue their education at a university level. Among the required courses students must take to achieve admission to a university are classes in English, mathematics, science, foreign language, art, and other classes that prepare them for higher education.
“We have gotten to the conclusion that when students are not being challenged, it leads to drop-outs. Every four years three thousand students from the east side drop-out of school, but even more alarming is that they do not obtain the classes necessary to succeed in life, and the students who do graduate are not eligible to attend a university,” said Luis Sánchez, Executive Director of InnerCity Struggle, an organization that works with the Communities for Educational Equity, CEE, the coalition that is organizing the campaign for higher education standards in high schools.
The essential goal of CEE is to ensure that all students graduate from LAUSD schools having successfully completed the “A-G” requirements.
Surveys conducted by students at several different eastside schools show that a majority of students wish to obtain a higher education. The surveys revealed that at Roosevelt High School, 77 percent of the students wish to attend a college or university, 18 percent were not sure, and the remaining 5 percent did not want to obtain a college degree. Garfield High School’s survey results exactly mirrored those at Roosevelt.
Unfortunately, other surveys revealed, for example, that instead of discussing the necessary classes to be eligible for university entry, 78 percent of the students at Wilson High School limited their discussions with their counselors to issues such as fixing their current school schedules, and only 22 percent of the students actually discussed higher education opportunities and goals.
CEE, the coalition formed by more than 20 community organizations and activists – among them Community Coalition, Alliance for a Better Community, and African American Parent/Coalition for Education Equity – wants the LAUSD to acknowledge that students in South and East Los Angeles do want to obtain a higher education, but they do not have the classes necessary to do so.
Presently, there is not enough space in many schools in the LAUSD for all students to take “A-G” courses. This is why many students graduate with out being eligible to enter a university, according to Sánchez.
At Wilson High School, only 57 percent of the classes offered fulfill the “A-G” requirements, and only 66 percent of the classes at Garfield do. At Roosevelt, 65 percent of the classes offered fulfilled university entrance requirements, but only 70 percent of the students know what the “A-G” requirements are.
“They showed me how to fill out a McDonald’s application in my Life Skills Class. I think that they should have at least taught me how to fill out a college application or at least tell me what the ‘A-G’ requirements are,” said a disappointed Gabriela Perez, 17, a student at Garfield.
“We hope that the LAUSD will adopt a resolution that requires all of the district’s students that graduate satisfy the ‘A-G’ curriculum. In addition the district must ensure that teachers and students receive the adequate support and resources such as tutoring and relevant professional development, that will enable students to successfully reach this objective,” said Verónica Melvin of ABC.
Currently, at Garfield High there are 10 counselors for 5,200 students, and there is the same number of counselors at Roosevelt for 5,400 students. But due to budget cuts there will only be 8 counselors at Roosevelt next year.
The resolution that requires 4 votes in favor among the 7 LAUSD School Board Members in order to be implemented, seems to be heading toward approval, particularly now that School Board President José Huizar’s office has stated that he is working with the coalition to try to implement the ‘A-G’ plan in all LAUSD schools.
“With Huizar’s help and the members of the board in our favor about the construction of new schools and the reduction of student [class] size in schools, we can remove the division between the schools that do offer these required courses and those that don’t,” said Sánchez.
Many parents have pledged their support for the coalition’s campaign. They feel their children deserve a better education.
“Every student should be prepared for a 4 year university. After acquiring the necessary education to move on to higher education, students [should] have the option to attend a university or not,” said a concerned Dolores Rojas, mother of a student at Garfield.
On April 26, several communities based groups located in the Southern and Eastern sections of the city, including Boyle Heights, El Sereno, Lincoln Heights and Pico Union will present close to 20 thousand signatures of parents and teachers who support the resolution that demands the implementation of the “A-G” requirements as a high school prerequisite in all schools of the LAUSD. The goal is to in late May place the resolution on the LAUSD Board agenda for a vote.