Great article in the May 13, 2016 Record about the Community Leadership Breakfast!
Education leaders highlight anti-dropout programs
- By Nicholas Filipas
Record Staff Writer
STOCKTON — Community leaders, organizers and educators shared breakfast and discussed education during the second annual Community Leadership Breakfast on Thursday morning, presented by the Leadership Stockton Alumni Association.
Situated in The Record Press Club at the Stockton Arena, hundreds of corporate professionals and representatives from several organizations heard presentations on the advances of education at the University of the Pacific, San Joaquin Delta College and the San Joaquin County Office of Education.
James Mousalimas, county superintendent of schools, whose office oversees 14 independent school districts, explained several programs that are available to the youth most at risk of dropping out.
Mousalimas talked about the newest program, the National Guard Youth Challenge program, slated to kick off in January.
The Discovery Challenge Academy, which is currently under renovation at the Sharpe Army Depot in Lathrop, is aimed at youth who voluntarily join the program. It gives those at the greatest risk of dropping out of high school, or becoming involved in drug and alcohol abuse or criminal activity, a second chance to achieve academic success.
The academy will serve 150 cadets in the inaugural class and eventually house 200 boys and 200 girls. Mousalimas said similar programs have recorded success rates of 70 percent.
“It will help find a way to get (students) back on track so they can be successful adults in our community, because if we aren’t successful in doing that, they are headed to prison or violence out on the street,” Mousalimas said. “Anything that we can do to stop that and to get these young men and women redirected is a benefit for our community.”
The Challenge program consists of two phases: a structured 5½-month residential timeline focused on meeting high school requirements and life skills; and a 12-month post-residential stage involving trained mentors to provide guidance and support.
Delta College serves post-high school students. President Kathy Hart said one key difference in education over the past 15 years has been the research focused on outcomes of students going through public education programs and institutions.
About 50 percent of students enrolled at Delta College are the first generation in their families to attend college, Hart said.
“We have to realize those students who are first-generation may not have the skills, abilities and understandings that allow them to succeed on their own,” she said. “We see many students come to us who really don’t know how to navigate the system.”
She said something seemingly simple as registering for a class at any university or college may not be an easy task for some students. Hart highlighted several initiatives such as the Adult Education Block Grant and Career Technical Education, were 60 percent of first-time students earn a certificate.
Pacific president Pamela Eibeck said it is important that the community of Stockton actively participates in staying informed and engaged in programs such as early literacy and providing internships for students to gain job experience.
Pacific has a diverse student population, with 29 percent of those who categorize as white and non-Hispanic. Many students enrolled are also not wealthy, Eibeck said, with about 20-25 percent of students who also are the first generation in their families to attend college, and those families struggle to pay for tuition.
“We give out $60 million in financial grants each year … we keep tuition down and haven’t had an increase of over 3.9 percent in years,” she said. “We look at every way in keeping the control of costs down and limit future tuition increases to be even less.”
Eibeck stressed that higher education is going though tremendous challenges right now as the university finds ways to remain affordable. She said the community working collectively to help young people is important for the future of San Joaquin County.
“I encourage you to think about how you can establish scholarships; how you can have internships in your company in the summers or during the year for our students,” Eibeck said.
“But as a citizen of Stockton, I truly want to help every one of you, every day, to think about what actions you can take to help our young people succeed in school, and be prepared for a powerful life through a college education.”