To Our California Gear Up Partnership Projects

Summer 2005 | | June 1, 2005 at 2:11 pm

Penny Edgert, California GEAR UP Program Administrator, spoke at the January GEAR UP Partnership Conference in San Francisco. Excerpted remarks are presented below.

The California GEAR UP Program is pleased to be part of the opening session at the Second Annual California GEAR UP Partnership Conference. Your invitation represents a continuing statement on your part that the partnerships and the California program have much in common and can most effectively serve the students of the state through our collaboration and cooperation.

For those professionals who were part of the 1999 grantees, time has certainly flown. It is nearly six years to the day that many of us started writing proposals for GEAR UP funding. Most of the students that you began to serve in the Fall of 1999 are now seniors and should be anxiously awaiting responses from the colleges and universities to which they have recently applied for admissions. We have taken this journey together and learned from each other.

Each of the middle schools with whom you chose to partner was a participant in the California GEAR UP Program at one time. The educators at these schools — the teachers, counselors, and administrators — have engaged in professional development activities; the families have been trained to be involved actively in the educational lives of their children through the Parent Institute for Quality Education; and, some of your students will enter college with a California GEAR UP Educational Trust Award of approximately $2,500. As we have convened focus groups of middle school educators to discuss with us the strengths and weaknesses of the California GEAR UP Program, we have repeatedly been commended and encouraged to continue to include these Awards in our proposal for a second cycle. And…we will do so!!!

As we consider our next proposal and anticipate a second cycle, we are especially intent upon continuing past means by which to collaborate with the Partnership Projects and developing strategies for intensifying our relationship. In California, we have an especially unique opportunity to develop a model of collaboration between the partnerships and state grant for three reasons:

1. In large measure, the Partnership Projects provide direct services to students in your middle and high schools. The California Program focuses exclusively on the adults – teachers, counselors, administrators, and families. As a consequence, there is no inherent conflict of interest or competition between our efforts. Rather, they optimize and leverage each other. In the ideal situation, the school — as our unit of analysis — will be engaged in systemic change while the students will be most able to take advantage of those changes because of the services that the Partnership Projects offer. Together, we ought to exceed the results that either of us can achieve alone.

2. California does not currently have a longitudinal information system that allows us to track students from one school to the next or one educational level to another. However, because the Partnership Projects continue to deliver services to students through their high school graduation and the California Program continues to operate at the middle school level, we are dependent upon your data collection efforts for our summative evaluation. We ought to share our resources to build an impressive and efficient means by which to document and tell our collective story of effectiveness.

3. Because the California GEAR UP Program is sponsored and supported by the California Education Round Table — the chief executive officers of all the educational systems in the state — we have an opportunity, again together, to influence the development of the network of regional partnerships that Superintendent O’Connell has just announced. The GEAR UP concept is, by definition, collaborative in nature and we have learned the value of schools, higher education, and the private sector being engaged collectively in achieving educational outcomes. As such, we ought to embrace the Superintendent’s initiative and seek to offer him our experience, expertise, and connections in promoting his High Performance High School initiative through regional collaboratives, such as GEAR UP.

As we prepare to develop our next proposal, the California GEAR UP Program welcomes the opportunity to consider ways jointly in which we can expand and strengthen our relationship with you. We intend to continue to offer your schools an opportunity to be involved in our program. We look forward to your suggestions as to other means by which we can continue to collaborate in the interest of the students that we all seek to prepare for college entry and success.

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