Op-Ed on LAUSD A-G Life Prep Resolution: The Struggle for College Access

Wed, 05/16/2012 - 12:25pm

Quality Education is a Rightby Maria Brenes, Executive Director of InnerCity Struggle, Los Angeles
Reposted Courtesy of InnerCity Struggle

On June 14, 2005, the Los Angeles Board of Education passed the landmark A-G Life Prep Resolution in response to a community demand for equity and access. Seven years later, the district has struggled with effective implementation and in ensuring all students are provided the needed supports and resources to successfully complete the A-G course sequence. The A-G Resolution mandated alignment of the 15 college preparatory courses required for UC/CSU admission with the high school graduation requirements. The aligning of requirements ensures that ALL students graduate college and career ready. Full implementation of the A-G Resolution will begin this fall for the graduating class of 2016. The recent discussions at the School Board have re-surfaced the challenges of guaranteeing all students are prepared for, and have access to the courses. It is critical that the community weigh in on this debate to remind district leaders of the important role the passing of the original resolution has played in raising expectations for all students.

Catalyst for Change

Given the most recent A-G debate, it is important to lift up the conditions that catalyzed the movement for A-G that continues today. Prior to the passage of the A-G Resolution in 2005, only one out of twelve students who graduated from high school in the Eastside completed the A-G courses. Equally alarming was the entrenched belief system that not all youth should be prepared for college. For example, a survey conducted by InnerCity Struggle in 2003 found that almost half of Garfield High School students surveyed were not aware of or guided toward the A-G requirements. This lack of awareness on the part of schools severely limited the life opportunities for Eastside students. In 2004, InnerCity Struggle decided to join the city-wide coalition (Communities for Educational Equity) to demand that the School Board address this crisis and mandate college preparedness to ensure all students are college eligible – even if they choose other options after high school.

Movement Forward

InnerCity Struggle volunteers showing support of studentsSince the passage of the A-G Resolution there has been significant improvement in Eastside students’ awareness of the A-G requirements. An InnerCity Struggle survey conducted at Garfield High School in 2009 found that the number of students who knew about the requirements had increased by 34% since the last survey asking similar questions was conducted in 2003. This improvement is mirrored at the other Eastside high schools as well, with data showing similar increases in awareness and access to A-G courses.  The survey also showed that teachers and counselors played the biggest role in informing students of their requirements and parents are eager to play larger roles in supporting their children’s goals of going to college. This data demonstrates that the A-G Resolution served as a catalyst for transforming schools to actively promote a college-going and career readiness culture.  The district must build from these successes.

Accelerating Change

Despite the devastating budget cuts impacting our schools resulting in challenges such as increased class size, Eastside residents’ hope in public education is increasing, according to InnerCity Struggle’s recent survey data. The same data source shows that the overwhelming majority of students want to go to college and there is widespread commitment and energy among families and students to engage in improving education. The district must honor this commitment and identify mechanisms for preparing students to successfully complete the A-G courses despite the growing challenges. By working together, it is possible to support all students to succeed.

In the months ahead, as the district prepares for the full implementation of the A-G Resolution, InnerCity Struggle urges district leaders to consider the following recommendations to ensure effectiveness and equity.

  • INSTRUCTIONAL REFORM: LAUSD must improve instruction particularly focused on the teaching methodology of math, English and core courses. 
  • PREPARING THE PIPELINE: LAUSD must address how middle school students will be academically prepared to complete the A-G course sequence. The district must strengthen and expand support services, interventions and early warning systems to ensure students are prepared for the rigor of high school.
  • EQUITY AND ACCESS: LAUSD must ensure that high need schools increase student access to A-G courses. 
  • COLLEGE AND CAREER PREPAREDNESS: LAUSD must address how wrap-around services, work-based learning opportunities and themed instruction will be integrated to engage and retain students.

We urge the School Board and district leadership to move forward with implementing the A-G Life Prep Resolution and intentionally address the barriers that continue to persist in the neediest and lowest-performing schools. Achieving A-G access and readiness for all will result in positive changes for individual students, their families and our communities by empowering generations of young people with a quality education. We strongly recommend that the district open lines of communication and collaborate with community partners for the successful development and roll out of implementation plans. Doing so, will ensure a clear path and timeline are created in meeting the urgency of college access for ALL.

For more inforomation on the A-G Life Prep Resolution, please read this coverage from the Los Angeles Times.

 Maria Brenes, InnerCity StruggleMaria Brenes, Executive Director of InnerCity Struggle, earned her Master's degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and has worked with InnerCity Struggle since 2002.  Maria began her involvement in community organizing as a high school student growing up along the U.S./Mexico border with immigration issues and continued as a student activist at UC Berkeley on Affirmative Action and Ethnic Studies issues. She also worked as a youth organizer for six years developing the leadership of multiracial youth to improve the quality of education in Oakland schools. Her expertise includes campaign development, successfully implementing grassroots fundraising strategies, coordinating organizational strategic planning processes and coalition building. Maria has developed strong relationships with local school and city elected officials and key labor leaders in the Eastside and greater Los Angeles area.

 

 

All images are courtesy of InnerCity Struggle and are used with permission.