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Commentary: A plea to the LAUSD board to make us all college ready

Guest Contributors | May 11, 2015

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GRADUATIONAn open letter from four members of the Community Coalition Youth Leaders to the LA Unified school board, which is considering a resolution tomorrow from Mónica García and Steve Zimmer to enhance support for improving the district’s college-ready graduation rate. 

Dear Board Members:

On behalf of the thousands of students in South Los Angeles, we are frustrated and angry. We can’t believe adults are still debating whether or not we should be college-ready.

We can’t believe adults are still saying that “A-G” college-prep classes are too much for us to handle.

We are writing to let the district know, that our “Equity on A-G” resolution, is a step forward towards bringing quality education for all.

Ten years ago the LAUSD school board took a bold step forward by agreeing that all students should be prepared for college. The members’ decision helped move the school district in the right direction, and there has been progress towards this goal. But we shouldn’t give up now, just because the task seems challenging.

You have the opportunity to reaffirm this goal and can implement solutions to accomplish it. Students in school districts across the country receive this college prep curriculum, and there is no reason why we can’t also receive these same opportunities! We strongly urge you to make the right choice on this resolution and allow L.A. Unified to continue moving forward on a path towards equity.

We look at our stories and reflect on how our path towards college has been a fight for justice.

Timothy is a senior at Crenshaw High School. He grew up in a single parent household, and at times his family was homeless, trying to make ends meet. His mother always taught him that education would be the key to his success. But unfortunately, he failed his Algebra 1 class in the 9th grade. When he received his 10th grade schedule, his counselor placed him in geometry with no plan to retake Algebra 1.

Instead of giving him an A-G course, his counselor placed him in Choir, for the second year in the row. An elective course, he did not need.

Luckily for Timothy, he went to the Community Coalition’s after-school program, where he received one-on-one academic counseling. With a counselor, he created a personalized action plan to ensure that he could pass his “A-G” courses. Once he retook his failed course, he received the extra tutoring and coaching to pass.

These are the types of supports we need to see in our schools. Timothy is now on the path to college. But his story is not unique. Timothy’s story teaches us that when we are given the right support, we can succeed.

It’s not fair to say that we are failing to pass these courses. It’s that our schools are failing to prepare us to succeed in them. It’s time that the district takes another bold step by investing in our schools, by providing the resources to pass “A-G” classes. 

We believe the “Equity is Justice Resolution” that was passed last year goes hand-in-hand with this new resolution because it directs more resources to the highest need schools. And it’s in the highest need schools where students are struggling the most to become college-ready graduates.

Tomorrow, we expect a unanimous vote. We need the district leadership to know, that college-readiness is a priority for Los Angles Unified. Our future is at stake. We need adults to believe in us again, and it starts with leadership. 

Thank you to board member Monica Garcia and board member Steve Zimmer for your support and for taking action on our needs.

We call on board members McKenna, Galatzan, Ratliff, Kayser and Vladovic to believe in our potential and vote yes. We will be there with hundreds of our peers, parents and community allies in support. We refuse to wait another decade.

With hope,

Erika Gonzalez, 12th Grader at Fremont High

Christian Moton, 12th Grader at Dorsey High

Timothy Walker, 12th Grader at Crenshaw High

Jathan Melendez, 11th Grader at Manual High

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