The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and Santa Monica College (SMC) announced they are creating an Educational Collaborative to give the District’s high school students increased access to college classes as early as this summer.
At the May 21 announcement, SMC President Chui L. Tsang stated that the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the two institutions is “something we’ve been working on for a long time” and “means we’ll be working on many collaborative projects.”
School District Superintendent Dianne Talarico hailed the collaboration for helping to “provide the groundwork for increased success for our high school students by increasing the number of students wishing to pursue post-secondary education.” One of the projects is to open an Early College High School Program for 9th-12th graders in 2008-09 that would take a “a minimum of 100 9th graders who would actually begin college work.” The goal is “to make this successful, especially for first generation college-goers.”
The District’s new Chief Academic Officer, Sally Chou, explained that the Early College High School Program is being targeted to “the less fortunate” because the District is “trying to close the achievement gap” for those “students who traditionally have not had the opportunity” to pursue a higher education. She also pointed out that advanced high school students are already taking courses at SMC.
“The budget situation will be a challenge for us,” noted Ron Furuyama, the College’s Project Manager for Dual Enrollment Summer Institutes and High School Programs. “We will have to go out and get grants,” particularly for materials such as textbooks.
Chou mentioned that she has already talked to the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation (SMMEF) about helping to fund the program.
This year, according to a SMC press release, SMC will be “offering approximately 60 late start” classes at SMC and Santa Monica High School that accommodate the high school students whose academic year ends two weeks later than SMC’s.
Other initiatives that are part of the collaborative include developing increased competency for high school students in English and math so they are better prepared for college level work; expanding the offering of college level courses at SMC and the School District; increasing the shared use of facilities such as classrooms and athletics fields; collaboration on career and technical programs; developing a High School Transfer Academy aimed at students who are “first-generation college attendees.”
The College Board of Trustee’s Vice-Chair Rob Rader called this collaboration “the first real attempt to broaden the relationship between the two institutions” to make the best use of their resources.
School Board member Oscar de la Torre called the agreement an “incredible victory for our students in public education.”