From a failing high school to a struggling college

At Los Angeles Southwest College, Foster Washington, 20, is taking an all-male class to prepare for college-level English. The class, “part of a program geared to young men of color,” provides two tutors in addition to the professor, reports the Los Angeles Times.  Students read and discuss Malcolm X and Frederick Douglass.

Washington wants to be the first to earn a college degree in his family of 12 siblings. “I have no time to hang out on the street with my homies; I want to be at school every day,” Washington told the Times. “Coming here gives me a sense of worth.”

. . . nearly all of the 8,000 students at Southwest have unmet social and academic needs, said Patrick Jefferson, dean of student services. About 96% need remedial math and English, and many are the first in their family to attend college. They grew up amid crime and poverty and graduated from local high schools that are among the lowest-performing in the state, he added.

Black and Latino community college students in Southern California often go from low-performing high schools to community colleges with poor transfer records, concludes UCLA’s Civil Rights Project.  While nearly 80 percent of California’s black and Latino college students enroll in a community college, only about three in 10 move on to a four-year institution within six years, the project’s research concludes.