By Jesus Hernandez
Editor in Chief
Twenty-nine State Senators made a trip from Sacramento to the Liberal Arts Campus at Long Beach City College Wednesday, March, 7 to discuss educational topics mainly revolving around the Long Beach Promise program.
As Mark Taylor, head of college advancement and economic development, finalized the last-minute preparations and directed volunteers to their posts, a number of protesters emerged from the Parking Structure and made their way to T-1300.
The group of about 30 was made up of automotive and aviation maintenance students and a few Occupy Long Beach individuals who were armed with satirical posters depicting members of the Board of Trustees as chickens and President Eloy Ortiz Oakley holding a gas can and lighting the school on fire.
As the senators made their way past the protesters, each was given a T-shirt with a chainsaw-wielding character who was altered to resemble Oakley.
During the first part of the three-part session, the senators participated in an animated conversation about their experiences at Cabrillo High School the day before. The conversation was led by Sen. Darrell Steinberg, District 6, who joked he would move to Long Beach as soon as he could.
The focus was to recap on the k-12 aspect of Promise Pathways.
Promise Pathways is a program that Long Beach Unified School District, Cal State Long Beach and LBCC are working together on to ensure higher education to any graduating senior from any LBUSD high school. This includes priority registration and a free semester to LBCC or guaranteed admission to CSULB as long as a few set requirements are met.
The second part of the senate visit consisted of a campus tour followed by lunch.
When the third and final part of the visit began, the goal of this portion was clear from the beginning, the senators wanted to know how CSULB President F. King Alexander, LBUSD Superintendent Chris Steinhauser, and LBCC President Oakley have managed to make Promise Pathways successful.
Sen. Mark Leno, District 3, said, “If it can and is being done here, why can’t it be done successfully elsewhere?” The program has been tried unsuccessfully other places across the state.
Oakley said, “The only thing that is special about Long Beach is that we are willing to pick up the phone and talk to each other.”
Throughout the course of the discussion, Oakley said there has been a 500 percent increase in students going into English 1 classes when looking at student history and class performance in high school as opposed to a placement test. He also said nearly 80 percent of Promise Pathways students qualify for the Board of Governors fee waiver, meaning only 20 percent of the new students’ tuition needs to be funded by LBCC.
Sen. Steinberg said, “It is apparent that this [Promise Pathways] is a result of great leadership… We don’t legislate leadership. We want to know what we may do, at least systematically, and replicate this.”
“I would like it if you would give me the same amount of money per student as you give an incarcerated person, so that I can educate them,” Oakley said.