Alignment is key to getting more students through school and into a fulfilling career. We need to align middle school to high school, high school to college, and college to career. We also need alignent between K-12 systems, colleges, and businesses. And most importantly between students, schools, and parents.
Fixing education is a community effort that requires collaboration from every piece of the puzzle. In a recent Education Week article, “For Many Latino Students, College Seems Out of Reach,” we get powerful examples of how more Hispanic students are going on to college by aligning early education with future careers and emphasizing the power of community. Making higher education accessible to more of the Hispanic population is a high priority. In the next fifteen years, it’s predicted that 60% of the workforce will be Hispanic. Today, less adult Hispanics have finished some college or an associate’s than Asians, whites, and blacks, according to the article. Below are examples of how it looks when K-12 schools, business, and colleges work together to impact the future of our students and workforce.
K12 Schools: Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School in Manhattan serves a student population between 6th and 12th grade that is 98 percent Latino and 100 percent qualified for free and reduced lunch. Principal Brett Kimmel says in the article, “Our goal is to work with students and families to prepare academically and socially for success in college and beyond.” How? By creating a “college -going culture” starting in 6th grade that parents, students, and educators are involved in. 100 percent of this year’s graduating class has applied to college.
Creating a college-going culture is important for all students. Whether the college culture is supported in the home, at school, or both, students can get more personally invested in their K-12 education when they can make correlations between school, college, and career.
Businesses: Nonprofits like College Possible and Harlem Educational Activities Fund (HEAF) provide free after-school and summer programs for low-income students, many of whom English is not their native language. These programs help students prepare for the ACT and SAT. They also help students and their families fill out FAFSA forms and other college entrance paperwork. The majority of students who use these resources are first-generation college students who have limited outside help during the college application process, according to the article.
This summer LifeBound created a summer learning experience with help from doctors at Denver Health’s La Casa/Quigg Newton. We supplied students with our book Study Skills for High School Students to read with their parents to improve literacy, mastery of the English language, and skills to succeed in school. See my article from early this summer about working with La Casa/Quigg Newton.
College Outreach: Some colleges have included programs that start teaching kids about college as soon as 7th grade. The need to create a college culture as soon as possible for students and their families is repeated here. Students can’t be the only ones invested in pursuing a college education. Their parents must also support, understand, and motivate their children to get through school with a college and career focus. Colleges with an outreach program have meetings with families that teach them how to fill-out college applications and financial aid paperwork so they feel included in the process. They might also ensure students are up to speed on their academics by having them take math and reading placement exams before entering college.
Schools around the country have seen amazing changes once their students understand a college education is an attainable goal that leads to a brighter future. How can you mentor one student to consider college or help them with the application program? How can your community support students who have a desire to earn a college degree?
Promoting unity between learning and future opportunities can stabilize American education and grow our workforce.
“For Many Latino Students, College Seems Out of Reach,” by Caralee J. Adams. 7 June 2012. Education Week. Accessed on 22 June 2012. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/06/07/34college.h31.html