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Mayor uses Belmont as stage to call for school progress

first_imgAt a school that has become a symbol for the problems of the Los Angeles Unified School District, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Tuesday repeated vows to press for reform of the school system as he urged students to fight to succeed. Villaraigosa, joined by a cross section of educators and other elected Latino officials, urged an audience of some 300 Belmont High School students to work to graduate and go on to college. “We need you to succeed,” Villaraigosa said at the event kicking off the Belmont Education Collective. “We have been talking about what makes school successful. Cooperation is the key. Parents, teachers and the community are coming together. “Too many of our high school students are dropping out. Achievement rates are too low. This is the kind of program we need to experiment with to show we care.” The proposal to replace it has been the source of years of controversy, bogged down in disputes over the safety of the land on which it is to be built and the planned development of it. Villaraigosa has stepped up his efforts in recent weeks in pushing for reform of the district. “This is something I am passionate about and I will not rest until we have some change,” Villaraigosa said. “Look at this campus,” Villaraigosa said, pointing out graffiti and paint stains left on one sidewalk. “We cannot allow our kids to be in schools like this. These kids deserve more than that. These are kids with talent, with hopes and dreams. These are kids who can make it, but we have to let them know we care.” Rick Orlov, (213) 978-0390 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals Under the program, students will be provided with counseling, after-school tutoring and other programs to prepare them for college. Arturo Vargas, a Belmont High graduate who now serves on the board of the Alliance for a Better Community, which developed the program, said the problem has been the inability to connect students with their goals. A survey found that nearly 90 percent of Belmont students wanted to graduate, but only 36 percent were able to do so. “We must address the disconnect between the desire to succeed academically and the reality of dropping or being pushed out,” Vargas said. Belmont is one of the most overcrowded schools in the district, with 5,400 students attending on a year-round calendar. last_img

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