Long Beach College Promise commended by state agency
The program aims to help students prepare for and complete a college degree.
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The Sacramento-based Little Hoover Commission released a report last month commending the Long Beach College Promise for uniting three educational institutions in efforts to increase college enrollment and completion.
In the same report, the Little Hoover Commission, which investigates government processes and promotes efficiency through reports and legislation recommendations, also touted the Long Beach College Promise as a model for the rest of the state.
The Long Beach College Promise, implemented five years ago, is a coordinated effort between the Long Beach Unified School District, Long Beach Community College and Cal State Long Beach to help students “prepare for, enter and complete” college, according to its website.
The Long Beach College Promise also ensures that LBUSD students are provided with early college preparation and outreach, free tuition for their first semester at LBCC and guaranteed admission into CSULB.
“The early results have been impressive,” the Little Hoover Commission’s report said. Freshmen admissions from LBUSD to CSULB increased by 43 percent between 2008 and 2012, despite budget cuts forcing CSULB to decrease its overall admissions by 2,000 students in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 academic years.
CSULB Interim President Donald Para said the City of Long Beach has been working towards improving its education system since the early ‘90s, and it has intensified throughout the years, eventually giving birth to the Long Beach College Promise.
“If we don’t begin to generate another two-and-a-half million [bachelor’s] degrees for California in the next 10 or 12 years, it’s going to be very bad for the state and very bad for the country,” Para said. “We knew the situation as it was, not moving forward in a way that was going to benefit any of us, and we knew that if we didn’t all do better, then none of us could do better.”
According to the Little Hoover report, the Long Beach College Promise efforts began with LBUSD elementary school students going on field trips to LBCC and CSULB to meet teachers and administrators. One of the program’s goals is to get high school students to think of themselves as college-bound and provide them with courses that will help them succeed.
LBUSD Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser said that he was pleased that the Little Hoover Commission cited the Long Beach Promise as a successful model that should be replicated statewide.
“Our longstanding partnerships with CSULB and LBCC have been key to increasing college access and better preparing our students for success in higher education and beyond,” Steinhauser said.
The Little Hoover Commission report also pointed out that the Long Beach College Promise has thrived without any direct funding from the state. Its general operation is funded in part from the $20,000 each participating institution contributes, and the LBCC Foundation funds the students’ free semester of tuition at LBCC.
“This was based on a lot of work that had already been done,” Para said, “but the bottom line is it was people who realized what had to be done and decided not to sit around and wait for somebody to give us a lot of money to do it.”
Para said that he was also happy with the report’s identification of the Long Beach College Promise as a new way of doing business.
“We haven’t done it by looking for funding, we haven’t wrung our hands, we haven’t sat around and waited for the governor or other people to tell us that this is this thing we needed to do,” Para said. “We just figured this out as three public entities.”