Every Student Deserves the Choice to Go to College

HOPE responds to State Senator Wright’s comments regarding SB 381

Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) strongly believes that all students should be prepared to be successful in college and/or a career when they graduate from high school. Aligning graduation requirements with college admission standards ensures that students will be eligible for secondary education and better prepared to enter the job market.

As a Latina serving organization, HOPE supports the Multiple Pathways approach that integrates a college prep curriculum with career technical education to expose students to both the rigor and relevance of the subject matter. This approach helps to keep student interest by providing real world examples but also holds students to high standards.

Latinas make up a quarter, 1.5 million, of public school students in California. According to the California Department of Education, in the 2006-07 school year, only twenty-nine percent of Latina graduates completed the required courses for admission to a CSU or UC, there by limiting their choices to a community college or entry level work.

Legislation like SB 381 co- authored by Sen. Rod Wright (D-Los Angeles) and Sen. Mark Wyland (R-Carlsbad) would create two tracks of study in high school and for too long minority and low-income students have been steered away from college. In these difficult economic times and changing job market, we must give our students as many options to success as possible.


LAUSD Names High School After Felicitas & Gonzalo Mendez

FROM LAUSD Office of Communications:
For Immediate Release January 28, 2009

Los Angeles – The Los Angeles Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to name the first high school to be built in more than 85 years in East Los Angeles after two Mexican American civil rights leaders Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez.

The Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez Learning Center is scheduled to open in Fall 2009 and will be located in Boyle Heights.
“Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez paved the way for a more just educational system by combating segregation and discrimination,” said Board President Mónica García. “Their courage and struggle signifies the important role Latinos played in the fight for civil rights for all Americans. By naming this school after the Mendez family, we hope to
preserve this legacy for future generations.”

The story of the Mendezes courageous fight against prejudice and segregation in public schools on behalf of their children dates back to 1943. It was that year the children of Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez were denied entry into 17th Street School in Westminster,
California because they were Mexican American. The Mendez v. Westminster School Dist. is a landmark desegregation case that successfully ended segregation in California and is a precursor to later court cases including Brown v. the Board of Education.

Sandra Duran Mendez, daughter, and Johanna Mendez-Lizardo, granddaughter of the Mendezes, were both present at the LAUSD Board meeting where they shed tears of joy and thanked everyone for the honor.

“On behalf of the Mendez family, we thank Inner City Struggle, the Boyle Heights Learning Collaborative, LAUSD Board President Mónica García, and all those that supported the naming of this school, especially the community and students. We also would like to thank and acknowledge the other families that helped win this case: Ramirez, Estrada, Palomino and Guzman. It is important for families and students to know that we can change obstacles encountered along the way to success. ¡Muchisimas Gracias!”

Board members also received letters of support for naming the school after Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez from elected officials, teachers, community members and organizations in Boyle Heights. “The Mendez name serves as a reminder that we are all part of a legacy of struggle and that change is possible,” said Lester Garcia, Executive Director of the Boyle Heights Learning Collaborative.

“Opening the new high school in East Los Angeles is important to relieve overcrowding at Roosevelt High School and helps increase graduation rates,” said Klayber Sanchez, a 9th grade student at Roosevelt High School, and a member of United Students.
“Naming the new high school after people who have fought and struggled for their community is symbolic to students of this community.”

The new campus will feature two small learning communities that will house 1,025 seats and 38 classrooms, providing relief from overcrowding at Roosevelt High School.
Amenities will include: classrooms and science labs, a library, a multipurpose room, food service facilities, a parent center, underground parking, a competition gym and outdoor physical education facilities. In addition, campus structures are planned to
permit after-hours community access to the gym and athletic field.

Education Advocacy At Work

Thousands of Californians have taken part in rallies, lobbying visits with legislators and letter writing campaigns. All have the same message: An investment in higher education is an investment in the future of California’s quality of life, economic growth, health and environmental sustainability. Included in this blog post is a snapshot of some recent advocacy efforts. Please take action!

Study-in at the Capitol. On May 19, UC students staged a sit-in in Sacramento. Since many are in finals week, organizers encouraged students to bring their books andget some cramming in while protesting.

Students lobby for academic prep. On May 13, 200 students, parents and counselors involved in UC’s

academic preparation programs went to Sacramento for a Student Leadership Forum. High school and community college students who take part in the Early Academic Outreach Program, Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement program and the Puente Project attended. The students, who come from low-income, underserved communities, met with Legislators and their staffs to explain how important these programs are to helping students like them get into college.

SoCal education leaders visit Sacramento. On May 8, UC Irvine’s Peter the Anteater used his cheering skills at Capitol Mascot Day, an event Orange County higher education leaders organized. Peter joined with Cal State Fullerton’s Tuffy Titan and a lineup of community college mascots to deliver thousands of letters to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state legislators. Written by students, faculty, staff, parents and business leaders, the letters asked lawmakers to support the state’s investment in higher education as a proven way to strengthen California’s economic competitiveness. The leaders of Orange County community colleges and CSU Fullerton joined UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake at a rally and press conference.

Higher education leaders unite. On April 28, UC President Robert Dynes, UC Provost Rory Hume, CSU Chancellor Charles Reed and CCC interim Chancellor Diane Woodruff made a rare joint visit to Sacramento to urge policymakers to resist the deep budget cuts for higher education. They outlined the devastating consequences for California’s economy, which depends on the state’s educated and highly skilled work force to grow.

Students rally statewide. On April 21, more than 2,000 UC, CSU and community college students marched in Sacramento to protest state budget cuts and higher fees. Hundreds more attended campus rallies throughout the state. What can you do? Send a message to your state lawmakers