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Campaign for High School Equity Calls on Department of Education for Stronger Commitment to Raising Graduation Rates


For Immediate Release

Campaign for High School Equity Calls on Department of Education for Stronger Commitment to Raising Graduation Rates

In Response to President Barack Obama’s Feb. 24 Congressional Address, Coalition Points to High School Achievement Gap as Major Barrier to Sustainable Economic Recovery

WASHINGTON — President Obama and Congress have taken steps in the right direction by investing in education as part of plans to address the nation’s economic challenges, including offering relief for states to help all students stay on the path to high school graduation, according to the Campaign for High School Equity (CHSE), a coalition of leading civil rights organizations working on high school education reform.

Yet, in light of the president’s ambitious goals for American college graduation rates and global competitiveness, CHSE asserts that the initial education reforms included in the stimulus bill do not go far enough. To effect real change, the federal government must direct funding to comprehensive high school reform and hold high schools accountable for improved student achievement.
As students of color and English language learners continue to grow as a proportion of the total student population, they remain underrepresented among high school graduates, with some subgroups achieving a lower than 50 percent graduation rate. To implement an economic recovery plan without an intentional focus on the needs of these students is a colossal mistake that has serious long-term implications.

Thus, as his department hammers out the details, CHSE calls on U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to direct the maximum allowable portion of the stimulus bill’s school improvement funds to secondary schools, which traditionally have not received an adequate share of federal resources.

“All students have the right to a high school education that will expand their opportunities to become productive and prosperous adults. Further, investing in the workers and business leaders of tomorrow is a critical component of the nation’s efforts to rescue our economy,” said Michael Wotorson, CHSE executive director. “We must focus on improving educational opportunities for all students and, in the words of the president, create a system in which 'dropping out of high school is no longer an option,' or we risk long-term economic decline and the creation of a permanent underclass.”

Contact: Enid Johnson, (202) 331-4323

# # #

CHSE is a coalition of leading civil rights organizations representing communities of color that is focused on high school education reform. Members include the National Urban League, National Council of La Raza, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, League of United Latin American Citizens, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, Alliance for Excellent Education, National Indian Education Association, and Southeast Asia Resource Action Center.

CHSE is a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

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