Friday, December 11, 2009

Congressional Action Gives High School Students of Color, Low-Income Students Greater Opportunity to Succeed, says Campaign for High School Equity

/PRNewswire/ -- By directing fiscal year 2010 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations toward high school programs and the students who are least likely to graduate prepared for college and work, the Committees on Appropriations are moving in the right direction, according to the Campaign for High School Equity (CHSE), a coalition of civil rights organizations focused on high school education reform.

Along with steady funding for School Improvement, CHSE acknowledges the $1.5 billion increase in appropriations for Title I and the $15 million increase for TRIO and GEAR UP, will improve opportunities for students of color, Native and low-income students, and English language learner (ELL) students to obtain the educational skills they need to compete in a global economy. The organization also applauds a $35 million increase for after-school tutoring and enrichment programs, which CHSE recently noted are vital to closing the achievement and graduation gaps in our nation's high schools. For the communities of color represented by CHSE's members, funding for a new high school graduation initiative that directly addresses the dropout crisis is a promising element of the bill.

"This appropriations bill puts muscle behind the Administration's call to reverse the status quo for the nation's students, especially by ensuring that high schools and the neediest students begin to receive a greater share of federal resources," said Michael Wotorson, CHSE's executive director. "I am particularly encouraged to see $50 million directed at high schools that are most likely to produce dropouts, among which students of color and Native students are disproportionately represented. Investing in these students is tantamount to investing in the future economic health of America."

Without discounting the importance of monetary investment, CHSE notes that money alone is not enough to obliterate the achievement and graduation gaps that have long existed for America's students of color. The group continues to champion policy change and to urge the reauthorization of an improved and strengthened Elementary and Secondary Education Act during 2010.

"Only when we commit to comprehensive reform -- comprising policy change and funding that support its implementation -- while holding high schools accountable for improved student achievement will we truly address the inequities in our nation's high schools," said Wotorson.

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