The U.S. wants to be the top country in college graduates by 2020; four Texas school districts pledge to educate college-ready Latino students. (Photo/Getty)

Four Texas school districts sign pact, pledge “college ready” Latino students

The San Antonio Express News reports that four local San Antonio, Texas school districts have signed and committed to a significant goal — to follow an ambitious citywide plan to get 85 percent of their graduating seniors ready for college by 2020, in order to improve Latino college graduation rates.  The school superintendents of the San Antonio, Northside, Harlandale and Southwest Independent school districts signed the pledge, along with San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro and dozens of business and local organizations. Greg Darnieder, a senior advisor on college access to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, told the group the nation will closely watch these districts, who are taking action instead of just talking about graduation goals.

The four school districts pledged to implement measures to gauge student readiness, link school subjects to career and degree options, and establish curriculum goals which school counselors, teachers and administrators can implement fairly quickly.

“We are not trying to revolutionize the whole educational system,” said Alma Garcia, from the group Educate Texas, as quoted by the San Antonio Express News. “We’re working on the idea that we can move the needle immediately.”

San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro has been garnering national attention for his measures to greatly expand access to pre-school as well as improve education outcomes in the city.  Under his initiative, entitled SA2020, which strives to make San Antonio a “brainpower community,” Castro opened “Café College,” a one-stop center for test prep and guidance on colleges and financial aid.  The pledge signed by the four school districts is part of the k-12 educational goals the city is trying to establish. It is also part of the “Diplomás: More than just an education” initiative, which receives funding from the Lumina Foundation’s Latino Student Success Effort.

The Department of Education and the Obama administration have set a goal for the U.S. to have the highest number of college graduates by the year 2020. The organization Excelencia in Education has stated that in order for the country to achieve that goal, Latinos will need to earn 5.5 million degrees by the year 2020.

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