Chancellor's Recent Speeches
Remarks by Dr. Charles B. Reed
Thank you, Kit (Lively, from the Dallas Morning News).
It is good to work with you again. I have known Kit from my former job as the Chancellor in Florida when she was at the Orlando Sentinel, and then at the Chronicle of Higher Education. Now she's at the Dallas Morning News.
I am pleased to be on a panel with Tom (Meredith) who I know shares a passion for getting students ready for college. And to meet Gordon (Hodge) who can give us a national perspective.
Working with the Media:
When you are in a room full of reporters, it is good to see some friendly faces out there…really. I see Richard Whitmire from USA Today, for example. Before we get to the topic of college readiness that I am going to talk about, let me give you my philosophy when dealing with the media. It is to be accessible, open and honest, period.
Those of you here who have worked with me know that to be the case. It hasn't always been pleasant, reading or hearing things sometimes, but if I say it, it is always on the record, and I take responsibility for it.
With that said, let's get to the topic at hand.
Since becoming Chancellor of the California State University nearly 10 years ago, I have said something so many times that people might tired of hearing it, except for our communications people, who like consistent messages.
That is: When the public schools get better, the California State University gets better.
It is pretty simple to say but often hard to do.
California Master Plan for Higher Education:
CSU Student Profile:
It is the last group, our students of color, who I want to primarily focus on for this discussion.
We have to come down from our ivory towers and take our mission out to the people where they live.
That mission is (1) getting students ready for college, (2) getting them into college, (3) graduating them and (4) getting them into the workforce.
We cannot expect students just to come to us if we do not reach out to them in places such as their neighborhoods, their communities and their churches.
Parents sometimes have no idea what it takes to get their children into college, especially if English is not their first language.
Sometimes, even our teachers do not know what all are requirements are, so we need an education campaign if we are going to get students ready for college.
We also much work much closer with our K-12 colleagues, and I will give you an example of what the CSU is doing with the state's high schools.
But first let me mention some of our outreach efforts. What we are doing is getting out of our comfort zones.
Research shows that churches are key components of the black community, so that's where we went rather than waiting for parents and students to come to us.
On two Sundays in February in San Francisco/East Bay area and the greater Los Angeles area, CSU presidents, trustees and others took the message to the pulpits that college is possible and that it can make a significant difference in a young person's life.
We were at West Angeles Church and the First AME Church whose parishioners are such well-known African Americans as Magic Johnson, Halle Berry, Denzel Washington and Snoop Dogg.
We reached 40,000 African-American community members through these events.
Did last year and reached thousands then. We will keep doing this and assist the ministers and coaches.
Community Outreach Forums:
We have also held meetings across the state with leaders from Latino, Native American, Vietnamese communities and other ethnic groups to hear from them what we can do better to reach out to them and their children.
"Steps to College" Poster:
Another outreach effort is with our Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE) and founder Vahac Mardirosian:
Let me now get to the heart of what we are doing to help with college readiness in the schools.
We are having some good results so far with the numbers of students of color applying to the CSU: 12.5 percent African American; 15 percent Latino; and 12 percent Asian. But we have to keep working at this.
Early Assessment Program:
In spring 2006 (the third year of the augmented voluntary test), 134,000 (72 percent) of all eligible high school juniors took the mathematics EAP test, with slightly more than 55 percent scored as proficient for college level mathematics.
15,000 more students volunteered to take the math test in 2006 than in 2005, a good sign that shows we are making progress getting the word out about the test.
158,000 (38 percent) of eligible high school juniors completed the English part. Of these students, 25 percent were proficient. This is of great concern, and an area we are concentrating on with our K-12 colleagues.
The San Jose Mercury News praised the CSU for our efforts, saying in a March 2007 editorial, "To the credit of the (CSU) chancellor's office, it has developed a program no other public university system has tried…. School districts could help out by requiring that all juniors take CSU's test and by adding the expository English course to their curricula."
We also want the test to be mandatory, so that all juniors know where they stand. We will work toward this goal.
USA Today, thanks to Richard's editorial writing, has also given credit to the CSU for our early testing when he wrote about combining high school exams with college admissions tests. He called the CSU "a pioneer" and mentioned how students who pass then do not have to take our placements tests. And added, "Those who stumble get early warnings."
That is exactly what we are doing - reaching down into the schools, working with teachers and students so that students are ready for college.
Because if they are not, where is our country's future workforce and what will it look like?
Universities must work together with our K-12 colleagues if students are going to be ready for college.
If other states want to do what we have done, a piece of advice is don't just go in and tell them what to do - our faculty and their faculty must work together on this critical issue.
Even though we are all busy with the traditional issues we deal with - budgets, fundraising, curricular matters, etc - we must take time to work on the great challenge of college readiness.
If we wait too long it will be too late for our country.
It is going to be a challenge for educators, but it's a responsibility that everyone - community leaders, businesses, churches and elected officials - will all have to share. Our communities and our economy are depending on us, and I hope we can measure up to that challenge.