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Pride and protest: AVID is eliminated at Alhambra

Bianca Perez sat alone with her little brother, waiting to receive her scholarship. It was just the two of them since her father had to work and her mother passed away two years ago. The Alhambra High senior headed to Cal State LA wore a sign saying "I am an AVID student" around her neck. It was both a symbol of pride and protest. The program that Perez credits with helping her to reach this success — Achievement Via Independent Determination, or AVID — will soon be eliminated for other students.

“AVID helps students who sort of need a push,” she said, as her younger brother played nearby. “Money is really tight for us, and it’s helped me to keep my grades up, which is how I get the financial aid and awards.”

The enrichment program focuses on students who fall in the academic middle and are often overlooked, offering them elective courses, mentoring, and one-on-one instruction. Its results are impressive: a 95 percent acceptance rate to four-year colleges for the students involved. Yet, it is soon to be the latest victim of budget cuts at Alhambra High School. The School Site Council recently voted to eliminate the program's funding at AHS citing budget constraints; it will continue at San Gabriel High School.

At the June Alhambra Unified School Board meeting, dozens of parents and students packed the room to show their support for AVID. Students went up one by one, sharing stories like Perez's of getting into college, attaining career-building skills, and disappointment about opportunities denied to younger students. 

Teachers deplored the decision to cut the program, citing its impact on the achievement gap at AHS, especially that between Latino and Asian students who have had dramatically different graduation and college acceptance rates. "It is an abhorrent oversight with future catastrophic results for our Latino students and school," AHS teacher Jose Sanchez said.“Our Latino student graduation rates, A-G college readiness, involvement in student leadership and advanced placement/honors courses, etc. will plummet.”

But Superintendent Donna Perez is confident that AHS students will find success even after the program is removed. "We can't use the name AVID anymore," she said, "but we will still offer the exact same services to students."

Assistant Superintendent Gary Gonzalez said that it is a problem of trying to make the most out of what little funds have been left for education, not just in Alhambra, but in the entire country. "You have to look at how much money they give you, and then you have to start picking and choosing where you're going to get the most bang for your buck," he said. "We’ve been getting a smaller piece of the pie, and we have to do the same amount of work."

In relation to AHS's student population of more than 3,000, Gonzalez said AVID has simply become too costly to justify the less than 200 students it serves. The program costs more than $100,000 to run per year. 

As a result, AVID will no longer be available to the next generation of AHS students, such as Bianca Perez's little brother Nelson. But that was not his focus last Tuesday night. At the board meeting — which included both the protests and the scholarship ceremony — when she went up to receive her award before a room crowded with Alhambra students, parents and teachers, Nelson cheered louder than anyone from his seat alone in the back row.

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4 thoughts on “Pride and protest: AVID is eliminated at Alhambra”

  1. As a recent Alhambra graduate, I am proud to say that the teachers that supported me throughout my four years in high school was truly successful, especially my AVID teachers. It was the AVID program where I got the support I needed, to give me that extra push when needed, work to my fullest potential, and to help with the college application process. I was definitely not the brightest student at Alhambra, but I took rigorous classes and still managed to get my diploma and graduate from high school.

    AVID, unlike any other program, is successful. As mentioned, 95% of students who participate in this program make it into four-year colleges, receive mentoring, and one-on-one instruction. With a program with as much success as AVID makes no sense to cut from next school year. It is because of AVID that I am where I am today. Here, I learned how to study, take notes, manage my time, and to find out what I want to do with my life. Being a first generation college student in my family, my parents knew nothing about the college application process. If it wasn’t for AVID, I would have been so lost filling out college applications nor have the motivation to complete the applications to the best of my ability. Receiving that extra support for four years was really helpful and paid off. When looking at which programs to cut, one should weigh the outcomes and decide from there. Eliminating a program that is rather helpful seems kind of odd to me. But if it is imperative that AVID be gone, rest assured that the hearts of many AVID students and teachers will be crushed.

  2. Instead of eliminating AVID (for BUDGET REASONS?) I suggest eliminating many of the perks Alhambra Schooo District management has; perks that are not directly tied to the classroom but make management seem out of touch with students’ needs. This seems more like a page out of Arizona that has & continues doing everything possible to eliminate their Latino students. I hope some Alhambra parents SUE THE SCHOOL DISTRICT because that’s the only thing they (school district) understands. Come-on out there are there some parents willing to take the next step to bring back AVID?

  3. AVID was a great program. It doesn’t only focus on Latino students, but students who are in need of an extra push and support. I come from a family who never really had a father to begin with, so my brother and I would only have a supporting mother rather and supporting parents. Unfortunately, mom didn’t know much about the American education systems considering she immigrated here, so her support became limited to the mathematical subject. As a result, my brother and I were pretty much on our own when it comes to history, English, and the sciences. As time went on, that support from my mother became even more limited since my parents divorced and my mom was forced to work two jobs in order to support the family. That’s when AVID came in. AVID offered me the support I needed with tutoring and information about requirements to colleges and how to complete those requirements. AVID has helped me in more ways than I can even count. I know there are others out there who have difficult lives living constantly in tight situations. AVID was a program that allowed those individuals to receive the help they need to be successful.

  4. I have been in AVID for a total of 7 years. When I first heard about the program I was clueless & I didn’t really care about it at all. Needless to say, I was chosen to be in the program & I just went along with it. That was 7 years ago.. I am in Mr. Sanchez’s last Senior AVID class & to think that future students will no longer be able to be in this program breaks my heart. It’s true when they say “you never know what you have until its gone”.. That’s exactly how I feel about AVID, AVID has prepared me for 7 years for college. Now, that college is right around the corner I know that I would not have made it so far without the program. This program not only motivates you, it pushes you to your limits. I remember when I would be discouraged about a grade, I would talk to Mr. Sanchez & We’d created action plans to bump my grade up that 3% to get the higher letter grade. That’s an important lesson that AVID teaches you.. “Never settle for less”. Also, the college application process is a long gruesome process, if I didn’t have the help from my AVID family than I wouldn’t have had enough motivation to keep going. AVID isn’t just a class, it’s a family.. & I am deeply heartbroken at the fact that the next generations won’t have the motivation & help that all the AVID students appreciate so much. It is because of AVID that I knew about all the opportunities out there in the world and last but not least.. It’s because of AVID that I’m going to a 4-year college..