by B.J. on 12/08/2003 09:34:00 AM 0 comments Print this post

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"I am Fo' The Children Always Am, Always Will Be"

This is one e-mail I got from the UC thing. It's about Arnold, the governor, eliminating outreach programs. Personally I have no use for them, but it seems helpful to a few of my other friends. College is elitist and white as it is, but Arnold appears to think he came in as a minority because he's an immigrate and can thus relate and eliminate these programs. Asshole move, Arnold.



Posted on Tue, Dec. 02, 2003

Arnold punches outreach


By Joe Rodriguez

Let's hear it for Penny Saver Schwarzenegger, who wants to get rid of the colorblind programs that help Latino and black students get into college.

One of the new California governor's ideas for balancing the state budget is to eliminate test preparation, academic counseling, mentoring, bus trips to college campuses and other outreach programs that encourage and prepare minority students in underperforming schools for college.

These are the type of race-neutral programs so many opponents of affirmative action, those who believe in equal opportunity based on pure merit, were happy to see. I never expected outreach to outperform affirmative action, and it hasn't. But outreach appears to make enough of a difference.

Where outreach helps

In 2002, only 14 percent of the freshmen entering University of California campuses were Latino. A microscopic 3 percent were African-American. These numbers are nothing to cheer about, but the good news is they could easily be worse without outreach programs. A third of those black freshmen and nearly half of their Latino classmates in 2002 had received some sort of this help in middle or high school.

Without outreach, what would the flagship University of California campuses look like in the future?

``An institution essentially for rich, white kids,'' Marco Firebaugh, a Latino state Assemblyman, told the Mercury News.

Maybe not entirely white, but their campuses wouldn't look anything like the real California. They wouldn't have enough students who made the most of what they had, which is so often the case with bright minority students in urban schools that don't offer the same level of education as wealthier schools. That's merit no entrance exam can measure.

Outreach isn't a free pass. The best programs require high schoolers to study extra and require their parents to get involved, while counselors help students stay on track. These students still must perform well on college-entrance exams and essays.

While outreach works, it isn't cheap. Even former Gov. Gray Davis slashed the programs in half before he himself was terminated. Schwarzenegger would eliminate outreach completely next year, saving taxpayers $85 million.

The governor's best argument for elimination is that every outreach dollar belongs in the classroom.

``The merits of reaching out to underserved communities aside, the focus has been on maintaining funding for the institutions' core programs,'' said H.D. Palmer, a Schwarzenegger finance deputy.

I might buy that argument if the money were going to basic education in the poorest schools, but it won't. And even if it did, $85 million wouldn't be enough to fix what's wrong with underperforming schools in a state this large.

Instead of repeating vague promises about ending business and politics as usual, Gov. Schwarzenegger should be promising goals everybody can understand.

How about preparing every student who starts public school in California for a four-year college by his or her senior year of high school? Or for a vocation that pays a decent wage?

Mr. Governor, how about building a public school system that wouldn't need affirmative action or outreach programs, because every student, rich or poor, of any ethnicity, from any neighborhood, would receive an equally excellent education?

Funding reality

Here's one school reality the new governor must deal with: California ranks about 40th among states in per pupil spending, when adjusted for cost of living. We'll never bring statewide test scores, let alone academic achievement in the barrio or ghetto, up to par that way. But since we're in the promise-making business, how about putting California into the top ten states in academic achievement, with or without increased spending?

Now that's what I call a promise. But until it's delivered by this governor or the next one, helping promising minority students get ready for college is a good way to keep the idea of equal opportunity in higher education alive.




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