Outreach targeted for cuts

    The University of California and advocates for outreach programs await Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s state budget proposal, due Jan. 10, to discover the fate of outreach programs. Those involved with the university’s outreach programs are bracing for $12.2 million in mid-year cutbacks and possible elimination of the programs.

    One systemwide program facing possible elimination is the Early Academic Outreach Program. EAOP consists of preparation services for Advanced Placement courses and other enrichment services, which provide activities to inform students about higher education. During the 2001-02 school year, EAOP involved 84,187 students coming from households with a mean income of $5,000 less than nonparticipants. Advocates for outreach argue that elimination of such programs would be unfair to students that are from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    “”We’re pretty much facing an elimination of the program,² said Director of EAOP at UCSD Rafael Hernandez. “”It’s devastating given the fact that the program gives academic support and advising to low- income, first-generation students.²

    According to Hernandez, many students do not get the same opportunities as others that come from more affluent communities.

    “”It’s not a level playing field,² Hernandez said. “”All students should have access whether or not they come from low-income backgrounds and they are the first in the family to attend college.²

    Other experts on the topic maintain that outreach programs provide students with options for higher education and help to reduce disparities in the educational system.

    In a testimonial addressing the state senate budget subcommittee, Hugh Mehan, a UCSD sociology professor and director of the Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment and Teaching Excellence (also known as C.R.E.A.T.E.), stated that outreach programs “”generate new research and policy recommendations for reducing disparities in California’s educational system and raise the academic achievement of all California’s students.²

    While some have questioned the effectiveness of outreach, other studies have concluded that EAOP has benefited many students. According to an analysis published in 2002 by Denise Quigley of the UCLA Center for the Study of Evaluation, students involved in EAOP had better academic records than those of a comparable group of students who were nonparticipants.

    According to Mehan, other outreach programs have made strides in improving educational opportunities. One such program, the Center for C.R.E.A.T.E., was established at UCSD in 1997. C.R.E.A.T.E. seeks to improve academic achievement in K-12 schools, increase the rate of eligibility for students among underrepresented groups, and build partnerships between UCSD and local elementary and secondary schools.

    “”C.R.E.A.T.E. has school-improvement goals such as improving the quality of instruction in under-served schools, and we have made gains in that area,² Mehan said.

    Current UCSD students who are involved or have been participants in EAOP have strong reactions regarding the cuts and possible elimination of outreach programs. For Galya Diaz, a John Muir College senior who worked as an advisor for an EAOP-affiliated program, elimination of the program could negatively affect many high school students.

    “”I really don’t think that outreach is the right place to take the cuts,² Diaz said. “”Cuts would mean not letting students find out about applications, fee waivers Š and it means cutting the future.²

    Eleanor Roosevelt College junior Leslie Trevino participated in EAOP during high school and is now a tutor and mentor for the program. As a high school student in the Imperial Valley, Trevino said that EAOP aided her application process and provided her with information about college.

    “”These programs I was enrolled in facilitated the process I had to go through to get in to college,² Trevino said. “”The fact that they had representatives in the Valley made me feel worthy of attending a prestigious university.²

    According to some, EAOP is the only resource many students have in learning more about higher education.

    “”I believe the majority of underrepresented students have been touched by outreach programs,² Trevino said. “”I’ve grown with my students and have watched them change their attitudes toward school.²

    A hearing will be held in the assembly on Jan. 7 regarding the cuts.

    “”If the proposal passes, we’ll have to lay off personnel and staff and eliminate programs in schools,a Hernandez said. “”This would ultimately mean that the number of students that apply to UC, CSU and community colleges will drop.””

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