Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) President F. King Alexander traveled to Washington, D.C. with Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser and Long Beach City College (LBCC) President Eloy Ortiz Oakley to join President Barack Obama at a White House signing ceremony where the president approved an executive order renewing the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.
The three educational leaders from Long Beach have attracted national attention for increasing college access through the Long Beach College Promise program and a Seamless Education partnership that aligns curriculum, instruction and professional development from pre-kindergarten through the doctoral level.
The Long Beach leaders made the trip to D.C. to share their successes at a national education summit.
“Our Long Beach community should take great pride in knowing that our commitment to all students from preschool through the doctoral degree is being recognized nationally as a prototype of seamless education. This is perhaps the most important issue our nation faces in the decades to come,” CSULB’s Alexander said. “We were very pleased to participate with President Obama and the U.S. Department of Education to help improve public education everywhere.”
Hispanics represent the fastest growing minority group in the nation. The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans was established in September 1990 to provide guidance to the Secretary of Education regarding academic opportunities for the Hispanic community. The initiative was subsequently continued by President William J. Clinton and President George W. Bush.
Under President Obama, the office has taken further steps to serve the Hispanic community. The latest executive order by Obama is aimed at strengthening the initiative.
More than 52 percent of students in the Long Beach Unified School District are Hispanic. Participation in rigorous Advanced Placement college preparatory classes by Hispanics and other minorities here has soared in recent years. College enrollment is on the rise here too, in part because of the College Promise, a cooperative venture among CSULB, LBCC and LBUSD that has produced promising results in just two years. The program includes a tuition-free semester at LBCC, and it offers guaranteed admission to CSULB for local students.
“More than 72 percent of our high school graduates are pursuing higher education, with half of them attending LBCC or CSULB,” LBUSD’s Steinhauser pointed out. “We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished with the help of our partners in higher education, and we’re delighted that the Obama Administration has noticed our ongoing efforts.”
At Long Beach City College, more than 500 students this fall are taking advantage of a tuition-free semester, courtesy of the College Promise.
“The Long Beach College Promise is a national model for seamless education, and we are honored that President Obama and his education team have taken notice,” said LBCC’s President Oakley. “As one of the largest Hispanic serving institutions in the nation, it gives us great pride to be recognized by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. It is our hope that key elements of our innovative program can be emulated across the country.”
The College Promise is an extension of Long Beach’s Seamless Education partnership, described as a national model in a case study this year by the Washington D.C.-based Business Higher Education Forum. The Seamless partnership, started in 1994, connects LBUSD’s educators with business leaders, LBCC and CSULB to make certain that students progress smoothly through the education systems and into the workforce.