Civil Rights Coalition Offers New Congress Action Plan for Closing the Achievement...

Civil Rights Coalition Offers New Congress Action Plan for Closing the Achievement Gap

Campaign for High School Equity calls on federal government to prioritize high school education reform


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WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — Less than 60 percent of African American, Latino, and American Indian and Alaska Native students graduate from high school on time with a regular diploma, compared to a national graduation rate of more than 70 percent of all students, a crisis that threatens the nation’s global competitiveness and economic security. Many Asian Americans also face barriers in education that are often overlooked as a result of inadequate data collection and reporting by schools, school districts, and states. The Campaign for High School Equity (CHSE), a coalition of national civil rights groups addressing high school education quality and equality, hosted a congressional briefing today to outline policy priorities for improving student outcomes, including recommendations related to implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“Too many American high schools fail to provide a high-quality education to the youth who should become our next generation of business and political leaders,” said Michael T.S. Wotorson executive director of CHSE. “While CHSE is pleased that the House and Senate versions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act include some relief for states to address public education, much more needs to be done now to ensure that every student graduates prepared for college and the 21st century workforce. The current stimulus bill does not, for example, include funding for high schools, Title VII, Title III, TRIO, GEAR UP, and other programs that directly support students of color and English language learner (ELL) students.”

At the briefing, CHSE members urged the federal government to hold high schools accountable for student achievement and graduation and to give schools the resources they need to adequately prepare students for success. The leaders also called for comprehensive and consistent data systems to report student progress, implementation of a variety of effective high school models that support different learning styles, and strategies to place highly-effective school leaders and teachers in high-need high schools.

“In these increasingly challenging economic times it is more critical than ever for us to address the obstacles that stand in the way of student performance and to introduce solutions that will keep students of color on the path to high school graduation,” said Hilary O. Shelton, NAACP’s vice president for advocacy and director of the Washington Bureau. “We can no longer ignore disparities in public education, denying students the opportunity to make significant contributions in their communities and to our nation’s economy.”

As students of color and ELLs continue to grow as a proportion of the total student population, CHSE called for improving their educational outcomes to be a national priority. Schools that serve a student body made up of more than half minority students are more likely to be “dropout factories” — schools where fewer than 60 percent of freshmen go on to graduate three years later. Implementing federal accountability standards matched with adequate resources and data that indicate which schools and students are most in need will raise the bar in high schools nationwide.

“The potential for student success and achievement exists through structural reform in public education,” said Wotorson. “We need to hold our new president and Congress accountable for delivering on promises of education reform, funding, and policy at the federal level, and high schools must be included in that dialogue.”

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 Center.

CHSE is a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

SOURCE Campaign for High School Equity

Civil Rights Coalition Offers New Congress Action Plan for Closing the Achievement Gap