OAKLAND, Calif., Aug. 25, 2009As part of the recently revised California state budget, public K-12 schools will see their funding reduced by more than $4 billion this year, with cuts expected in faculty, instructional materials, gifted and other specialized programs, and instructional days. Meanwhile, over 70 percent of 2009's graduating seniors did not pass the California High School Exit Exam in English or mathematics, and recent data show that 20 percent of high school students drop out, with higher rates in Oakland and West Contra Costa County districts. As the state education system continues to deteriorate, more local families are seeking alternatives to public schools.
Last week, the Independent Scholarship Fund (ISF) awarded 194 need- and merit-based scholarships to East Bay K-12 students for the 20092010 school year, totaling more than $291,969. Providing up to $1,500 toward the cost of tuition, the ISFsponsored by the Independent Instituteallows students to consider private and parochial school education.
Independent Scholarship Fund families come to us because their children aren't thriving in their current schools, said Mary L.G. Theroux, senior vice president of the Independent Institute. This includes students who require more challenging coursework, more discipline in their learning environments, or more individual support.
One size doesn't fit all, and we recognize that in almost every other domain. Education is incredibly important, and children deserve to be in schools that work for them. We frequently receive requests from public school teachers who are dealing with students at prime dropout age. These students want to stay in school, but they just aren't receiving the right amount of intensive personalized attention.
Parents of scholarship recipients are able to use ISF assistance toward the private or parochial school of their choice in Alameda or Contra Costa County. This academic year, students will attend 67 diverse schools, including inner-city magnets such as Candell's College Prep in Oakland and Salesian High School in Richmond, schools based in religious affiliations, and non-religious institutions, with programs of study ranging from traditional curricula to independent learning.
For many families, freedom of choice in education hasn't been an achievable option, Theroux continued. The ISF is an opportunity for students in the East Bay to access the schools that genuinely meet their needs.
The ISF has awarded $2,706,409 in scholarships since 1999, thanks to the generous assistance of foundations, corporations, community organizations, and individuals. For more information or to contribute to the fund, please see: http://www.independent.org/students/isf
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