COMPACT FOR SUCCESS -- (Extensions of Remarks - October 01, 2004)
HON. BOB FILNER
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2004
Mr. FILNER. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of funding in the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations bill for the Compact for Success, an educational reform and college guarantee program at the Sweetwater Union High School District, located in my Congressional District in California. The Sweetwater Education Foundation, a non-profit organization, facilitates this program.
The Sweetwater Union High School District serves the densely populated corridor between downtown San Diego and the international border with Mexico, including nearly 40,000 students in grades seven through twelve. These students live in some of the most diverse and economically disadvantaged communities in the state. The schools serve large numbers of "latchkey" children, many of whom enter school behind in basic academic skills. Nearly half of the students in the district qualify for free or reduced price meals, a figure that is as high as 90 percent at some sites.
In addition to their economic disadvantage, a significant percentage of Sweetwater youth come from homes where adult educational attainment is low. Many parents are new immigrants with limited schooling in their home countries. With little history of academic success, these adults often lack the first-hand "know-how" so critical in helping their children reach high achievement goals and think about attending college.
With 84 percent of its students coming from ethnicities traditionally under-represented in higher education, Sweetwater is one of California's most diverse districts. More than half of Sweetwater's students speak a language other than English at home.
The Compact for Success, now entering its fifth year, is raising the bar academically and giving the Sweetwater students the tools to reach their goal of attending a four-year university. Compact participants are students of Sweetwater Union High School District, who complete six years in the Compact program in exchange for guaranteed admission to San Diego State University.
Even though the first class of Compact students is in the 11th grade, the impact of higher expectations is already evident. This year, the number of graduating seniors admitted to San Diego State University shows a 76 percent increase since 1999, the year the Compact began.
The Compact was named the most powerful student initiative in the nation this year by the American Association of School Administrators and earned a Magna Award from the American School Board Journal.
I am proud of the accomplishments of the students participating in the Compact, and I urge support of their funding request.