By Jim Nelson, Executive Director, AVID Center
Governor Jerry Brown and those who have proposed that AVID be cut from the state’s budget should reconsider.
The most recent example comes with the announcement from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. Last week, the MSD Foundation announced their selection of 300 students from applicants nationwide who will become Dell Scholars, giving each student $20,000 for their college or university tuition, room and board.*
Of those 300 students, 96 students are from California.
Of those 96 students, 83 students are AVID graduates.
Yes, 86 percent of the Dell Scholars in California were AVID students. Since the inception of the Dell Scholars program in 2004, AVID graduates have predominated with 1,315 of the 2,150 scholarships awarded. Michael and Susan Dell have committed $20,000 to each of these students, who are all low-income, have overcome challenging circumstances, and are the first in their families to go to college.
These facts should convince the governor and budget writers that AVID is worthy of continued funding. Cutting the $8.1 million for AVID from the California budget would be a great example of “being penny-wise and pound foolish.” The 15 years of state partnership and investment in AVID regional service centers has established a strong cadre of regional leaders and coaches who carry the expertise of AVID to the over 1,400 AVID secondary sites in California. Elimination of state funding will dismantle the regional support system and leave schools to scramble for funds to pay for the crucial coaching and support.
When state leadership suggests that schools can choose where to spend money, they do not have an accurate picture. The money allocated to fund the regional system for AVID is not in the school or district budgets. The funds were placed into the state's general fund, not the education budgets. This will require districts, during difficult budget reduction times, to search for another way to fund this important AVID College Readiness System. The education of California students, especially those who would be the first in their families to attend college, is crucial to the long-term viability of our state’s economy and to sustaining our democratic way of life.
There are other facts to consider:
Of the 15,592 California AVID 2011 graduates who reported their information:
- 95 percent plan to attend a postsecondary institution; 61 percent in four-year institutions and 33 percent in community colleges, and
- 90 percent of 2011 AVID graduates completed the UC/CSU “a-g” course requirements. This is roughly 2.5 times greater than the completion rate of 36.3 percent for the state overall in 2009-10, the most recent data available.
Since the 1995-96 school year, California legislators have had the wisdom to support AVID, and the return on their investment in AVID can be seen in the tens of thousands of students who have achieved what many never thought was possible, high school graduation and college acceptance. AVID is woven into the fabric of California education, and has been for more than 30 years because it works. Period.
Sometimes, the facts speak so loudly that no other voice needs to be heard. The facts showing what AVID means to California students should make the decision to continue funding AVID a no-brainer.
For more information about AVID in California, go to http://www.avid.org/.
For more on the AVID’s financial impact on society, read Tom Holman’s Access article here.
*The Dell Scholars Program targets underserved youth and lower income students from high schools nationwide to promote higher education. The program also provides its students with technology, resources and mentoring to ensure they have the support they need to obtain a college degree.