This is also why we have focused at Operation HOPE, with the 5MK (5 MILLION KIDS) movement, our Make Smart Sexy Tour which begins in 2011, and our Gallup-HOPE Financial Literacy Index, on LAUSD and Oakland Public Schools as tier-one priorities for improvements and excellence starting in 2011.  This is also why I and we at Operation HOPE are focused on working closely with LAUSD leadership inclusive of Superintendent Ramon Cortines, Deputy Superintendent John Deasy and Dr. Sharon Robinson, and Oakland Schools leadership including Superintendent Dr. Tony Smith and Deputy Superintendent Ms. Maria Santos.

Read below and don't just fret, but see how you can help. A couple options are for you to make a (non-financial is fine) leadership pledge for your organization, company or yourself at, or email Jonathan McCoy to see how you can help.  


Wednesday, December 8, 2010 (SF Chronicle)

Dropout rate for Calif. black students hits 37%

Jill Tucker, Chronicle Staff Writer


   More than a third of California's African American public high school

students dropped out before graduation day, a startling number and one

that's on the rise, according to 2009 data released Tuesday.

   The 37 percent African American dropout rate, up three percentage points

from the prior year, was far above that of any other ethnic subgroup.

Hispanic students had the second highest rate at 27 percent.

   Locally, San Francisco cautiously celebrated a 9 percent overall dropout

rate, a stark contrast to Oakland's 40 percent, numbers still under review

for accuracy.

   The statewide statistics highlight a pervasive achievement gap in test

scores and graduation rates that persists despite focused efforts to boost

the academic performance of black, Hispanic and low-income students, state

education officials said.

   Overall, 22 percent of state students dropped out of high school,

according to the new data, up from 19 percent the year before.

   The numbers are more than a year old. They were released several months

later than usual because of problems ramping up a new system that can

follow individual students' progress in California public schools, even if

they move, said state schools Superintendent Jack O'Connell.

   "We now have a data system that allows us to track students more

accurately and have honest conversations about how to improve graduation

rates and reduce dropouts among all subgroups of students," O'Connell


   O'Connell blamed the increase on state budget cuts, which have resulted in

larger class sizes, fewer art and music classes, cuts to sports, fewer

counselors and less access to career/technical courses – all programs that

can help keep struggling or at-risk students in school.

   In addition, drastic cuts to summer school have prevented students from

catching up on credits during the break, meaning they can't graduate on

time and too often give up.

   "Clearly the dropout rates in California are too high, unacceptable and

absolutely must be addressed," O'Connell said. Some good news

   The higher dropout rate was the bad news Tuesday, but there was also good

news – the state's graduation rate is also up, O'Connell said.

   While that might sound contradictory, the two statistics aren't completely

interconnected, given a fluctuating third group of students, which

includes those who move out of state, die, go to jail or take the GED test

before graduating.

   In 2009, 70.1 percent of those who started high school in the state

graduated, up from 68.5 percent the year before. Hispanic students saw the

biggest gain in diplomas, with 60 percent graduating, a nearly

five-percentage-point increase.

   While O'Connell said the state dropout and graduation numbers are

reliable, localized data are still under review for accuracy at the

district level, given the new system. High Oakland rate

   In Oakland, for example, the dropout rate hit a whopping 40 percent in

2009, a number that has fluctuated wildly the past few years, up from 28

percent in 2008 and 36 percent in 2007.

   While there is concern about the fluctuations, "these numbers are a little

bit closer to what we've been hearing anecdotally," said Troy Flint, a

district spokesman. "The percentage is not as important as realizing this

is probably the most critical problem facing the district."

   The district is focusing on internship programs and coursework that meets

student interests, as well as offering the core curriculum, Flint said.

   "We're trying to be more creative about making it more interesting for

kids," he said. San Francisco's trend

   In San Francisco, district officials were pleased with a 9 percent dropout

rate, down from 18 percent the year before, and 20 percent in 2007.

   Even if the exact numbers are off a bit, the trend seems clear, said

Gentle Blythe, district spokeswoman.

   "It shows that the work we've been doing over the last few years to

decrease truancy and increase (daily) attendance has had an effect on

these numbers," she said.

   The district has a partnership with the district attorney's office to

compel attendance, as well as online courses and limited summer school

specifically for students behind in credits.

   "We know that being in school on a regular basis is a precursor to school

success," Blythe said. "The more school students miss, the more likely

they are to drop out and become discouraged."


E-mail Jill Tucker at ———————————————————————-

Copyright 2010 SF Chronicle


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