Middle-class families, particularly those whose parents attended college, typically have important background sometimes referred to as "social capital." They possess the knowledge and experiences to ensure their sons and daughters will navigate through high school and onto an education path that will be a glidepath to a two-year or four-year college degree. This path leads to a degree, credential or certification that enables them to secure a job that provides a livable income in the shrinking middle class.
In the past 30 years, the number of students from the richest quartile of families enrolled in four-year universities has increased from 58 percent to 80 percent. This is contrasted with students from the lowest quartile, where four-year college attendance increased to a mere 29 percent from 19 percent. Many students from low-income families, who often possess strong academic aptitude and achievement marks, don't have the background and knowledge to successfully navigate the educational and career landscape of actions, decisions and choices.
Each of your local public high schools works diligently to provide activities and experiences that equip first-generation college students and their families with important information and knowledge they need. The following are a few examples of Glenbard Township High School District 87’s efforts to ensure each student and family is college ready and career ready:
• Each student progresses through a course sequence that includes algebra, geometry and algebra II with trigonometry and biology, chemistry and physics.
• All Glenbard students are encouraged to take at least one Advanced Placement class (and pass an AP exam with a 3 or higher) before they graduate.
In addition, Glenbard provides the following:
• All students have iPads – through increased use of technology, our students are building skills in the areas of communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking
• Summer school programming – credit and enrichment courses empower students to develop skills, pursue an area of interest and avoid the summer slide
• Bilingual Parent Advisory Council – monthly workshops focused on parenting strategies, motivating students to succeed in school, overcoming challenges and fostering a path for college
• DuPage Area Occupational Education System opportunities – career and technical education opportunities through the Technology Center of DuPage
• 87 SAT Prep+ – free nine-week program taught by Glenbard teachers includes 20 hours of free Khan Academy online support and free test prep booklets
• College visits – minority student achievement coordinators lead college tours
• School counselors – counselors guide students in course selection and provide college-planning resources and social emotional support
• Glenbard Parent Series Navigating Healthy Families – free monthly programs provide helpful parenting skills by engaging A-list speakers, parents and school staff
• GPS Spanish Saturday Series – helps parents and students navigate college preparation, the college application process and financial aid
• Families United for Student Excellence – enhances educational opportunities of all African-American students and provides families with resources for academic success
• Partnering efforts with College of DuPage – ensure students avoid taking non-credit bearing, developmental courses
Being prepared and knowledgeable to navigate successfully into college and career-training programs is a comprehensive multi-year effort. High schools working in partnership with parents, colleges and community leaders are empowering students to follow a path that will lead to a career where they earn a livable income. Isn’t that what we want for each of our students?
David F. Larson is the superintendent of Glenbard Township High School District 87.