By Rick Orlov Staff Writer, LA Daily News |http://bit.ly/r3LlMn
9/23/2011 6:25:22 PM PDT - Using the experience of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as an example, Los Angeles Unified on Friday launched its fourth annual effort to persuade dropouts to return to school.
Villaraigosa dropped out of high school but later returned and went on to graduate from UCLA and law school. His first job as a union organizer evolved into a political career.
"I often say it was Catholic schools that taught me the basics, but it was public schools that gave me a second chance," Villaraigosa said during a news conference at the Santee Educational Complex near downtown Los Angeles.
Santee and other campuses - including Gardena High and Peary Middle School - served as staging areas for LAUSD, City Year and other groups whose volunteers visited the homes of 22,000 youths who had dropped out of the district.
School board member Steve Zimmer said more than 1,400 students have re-enrolled as a result of the annual Student Recovery Day program.
"To all students, to all youth who have left school for whatever reason, the message we have is very clear," Zimmer said. "We miss you and we want you back.
"We want to make sure when you come back, there will be a situation of support and faith and not only will you succeed in school, you will graduate."
The mayor cited his own history as an example to young people that there is opportunity for those who put in the effort.
"Schools gave me a second chance and this is a program of second chances," Villaraigosa said. "With so many people in poverty, education is a way out."
The program is funded with a $10 million federal grant, which is also used to finance pupil centers, alternative education and work centers, independent study and community day schools.
What’s it gonna be? Once-a-year photo-op cheerleaders, politicians and bureaucrats…
…or full-time Pupil Services and Attendance (PSA) Counselors?
smf: 2 things for two cents
- 1. The story of how Mayor Tony dropped out and came back to school is oft repeated and made much of. It’s good story, more about the value of mandatory attendance than about the mayor or the value of redemption. It also says something about what Supt. Deasy says about students being ‘pushed-out’ rather than ‘dropping out”. The truth is that Tony Villar was kicked out/expelled from Cathedral High School – a Catholic school – for getting into a fight after a football game - and was taken in by the public system – probably more from pressure from his mother than anything else.
- LAUSD’s Annual Dropout Recovery day is based on a program in Houston that was studied and brought to LAUSD by a taskforce charged by Superintendent Brewer with identifying lessons learned and best practices in other districts. The danger – as the District lays off attendance counselors - is that Dropout Recovery Day becomes a once yearly Photo Op Media Event – and not a concerted year-round program to identify and recover dropouts and truants. 1400 kids returned to school out of 22,000 students identified and visited ain’t good enough!