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Rep. Chu Removes Barriers so Students are Ready to Learn

September 28, 2010
Press Release

 Will introduce DIPLOMA Act to promote community-based education

WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., will introduce a bill to address social and economic barriers that limit student achievement.  The Developing Innovative Partnerships and Learning Opportunities that Motivate Achievement (DIPLOMA) Act helps states and school districts create community-based solutions to tackle problems like hunger, abuse and poor nutrition while requiring rigorous results to demonstrate continuous improvement.  A recent study from the Education Testing Service showed that more than half of the factors that influence student achievement occur outside the classroom.

"If we don't address the obstacles outside school walls, we'll never turnaround what goes on within them," Chu said.  "The DIPLOMA Act helps communities address problems like poor nutrition and abuse – letting every child reach his or her full potential.  By ensuring we meet the academic, emotional, and social needs of students in California and across the nation, we’ll increase achievement and prepare the next generation of America's workforce."

The DIPLOMA Act would allow states to award grants to local groups that coordinate, integrate and facilitate services aimed at strengthening student achievement.  The services include tutoring, extending learning services, health care and social support.

"I am confident that the community school approach is key to making a real and lasting impact on urban education," said Thomas Brady, the Superintendent of Providence, Rhode Island’s public schools.  "We need a comprehensive system of community partners to support the reform work that we are implementing in Providence Schools.  The DIPLOMA Act is a critical piece of legislation that enables this important work.  When you have community health workers, case managers, afterschool providers and adult educators working with the school faculty and administrators, it all adds to the success of students. The DIPLOMA Act will allow us to further expand and support this valuable work in our city and nation."

The bill contains strong accountability measures, including independent evaluations to measure the results of grant recipients and identify best practices.  It builds on successful community schools efforts already underway in many areas across the nation.

"Our communities have a major role to play in the education of our children, and the DIPLOMA Act affirms that role and responsibility," said Martin Blank, Director of the Coalition for Community Schools and President of the Institute for Educational Leadership. "DIPLOMA offers a clear partnership framework and the incentives for schools and communities to work together to help students succeed. This legislation will bring to scale effective community schools strategies in diverse places including Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Tulsa, Kansas City, New York City, and Portland (OR). The Coalition applauds Congresswoman Chu for her leadership."

Specifically, the DIPLOMA Act provides states with funds to:

·         Develop overarching strategic plans to enhance education and other childhood development measures

·         Provide training, technical assistance, and professional development

·         Administer competitive grants to local private/public partnerships

·         Hold grant recipients accountable with results-based, independent evaluations

Local groups, consisting of at least one school district and one external partner organization would compete for funds to:

·         Conduct assets and needs assessments, and create localized strategies for individual communities

·         Coordinate and integrate existing funding streams into their efforts and outreach

·         Provide children and youth with an array of opportunities and services including tutoring and dropout prevention programs, health services and increased numbers of specialized instructional support personnel

Priority for these funds would be given to partnerships comprised of a broad array of stakeholders – school districts, community based organizations, local government, service providers, students, parents, and others who have demonstrated records of effectiveness.

The DIPLOMA Act is endorsed by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA); American Federation of Teachers (AFT); American School Counselor Association (ASCA); Coalition for Community Schools (CCS); Communities in Schools; Council for Exceptional Children; First Focus; National Assembly on School-Based Health Care; National Association of School Psychologists (NASP); National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP); National Education Association (NEA); National Summer Learning Association; Public Education Network (PEN); Parent-Teacher Association (PTA); School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA); United Way and Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA)

Representative Judy Chu was elected in July 2009 to the U.S. House of Representatives as the Representative of California’s 32nd District, which includes East Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley.  She is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, Government Oversight Committee, and Education and Labor Committee, where the DIPLOMA Act was introduced.

Congresswoman Chu's career in politics spans 24 years.  A lifelong educator, Congresswoman Chu taught community college classes in Los Angeles and East Los Angeles for 20 years. She holds a Ph.D. in psychology and a B.A. in mathematics.