|Office of the Chancellor / Public Affairs||
Monday, May 10, 2004
Santa Cruz Sentinel 5-9-04
UC outreach: How it began and how it has changed
Outreach programs for minority groups date to 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson used the words "affirmative action" to describe what should be done to remedy past discrimination.
At University of California campuses, affirmative action was the standard approach to increasing enrollment of minority students until 1995. UC Regent Ward Connerly, a black businessman, contended it was discriminatory. At his urging, UC Regents voted 14-10 to ban the practice.
Afterward, fewer Latinos and blacks enrolled at UC, and advocates said more should be done to close the education gap between students in those communities and white students, who tend to have better-educated and more affluent parents. Some programs to increase the number of so-called disadvantaged students on campus were put in place, but their effectiveness has been in question.
Nationwide, only 20 percent of college-age Latino students are in college, compared with 41 percent of whites, 31 percent of blacks and 60 percent of Asian Americans.
Latinos tend to enroll at community colleges, and many never transfer to a four-year university and complete their degree, according to U.S. Department of Education studies.
Four years ago, the California Legislature allocated $39 million for improving college-going rates for disadvantaged students, many of them Latinos or blacks whose parents are not college graduates. The goal was to double the number of students eligible for UC.
UC started partnerships with schools in which relatively few students were admitted to the UC or state university systems, and hired more counselors to visit high schools and middle schools, provide one-on-one mentoring for students, guide them through the application process and offer financial aid information to parents.
More than 24 dozen so-called "outreach" programs were funded, some focusing on K-12 school districts and others on community colleges.
But there is a lot of ground to cover and many factors at play. In some cases, students don’t know which courses and tests they need to take to be accepted by a college. They may take courses with the right names but graduate from high school unprepared because the classes are taught at a lower level. They may not go to tutors to improve their scores on college admissions tests. Sometimes, students are detoured from the college track to get jobs to support their families.
UC officials, trying to save outreach programs from being cut during tight budget times, say statistics prove the effectiveness of the programs.
For example, they say about one in three of the Latino and black freshmen at the nine UC campuses have participated in outreach programs. The local UC partnership office reports that in five years UC enrollment has doubled, from 96 to 180, from its six partnership schools, including Watsonville High.
Cliff Adelman, a researcher with the U.S. Department of Education, is a skeptic, though. Following a group of 1992 high school graduates for eight years, he found that participants in college-prep programs enrolled in college at a higher rate than students who didn’t. But the percentage that completed a college degree was similar, whether the students were in a college-prep program or not.
Data from the newest UC outreach efforts aren’t available yet.
Carrol Moran, who oversees UCSC’s partnership programs, said the Legislature’s goal was to get students eligible for college and to increase college-going rates, so data on retention and graduation haven’t been gathered on a systemwide basis.
Moreover, she said, students are encouraged to choose whatever college is best for them — private or public — and UC hasn’t gathered all the data on private college enrollments.
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