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|BLACK ENTERPRISE ANNOUNCES THE 2005 HOT LIST:
AMERICA ’S MOST POWERFUL PLAYERS UNDER 40
Dr. Njema Frazier has been honored by black enterprise magazine as one of the
America's most powerful players under 40. Included on this list are people like
Shawn D. Baldwin, Trya Banks, Halle Berry, P. Diddy, Jay-Z. Click here to see
the full list.
|"I met young
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|Joel Vargas helps 'near miss kids' land in college
|By JAMILAH EVELYN from The Chronicle Of Higher Education
says he never felt poor until his high school was dubbed one of the worst-
performing in San Francisco. He was a straight-A student and at the top of his
class. His parents thought he was bound for Harvard.
When he landed at a local summer program that helped prepare kids for
rigorous college courses, he realized how much he didn't know.
"I met young people who were just so far ahead of me, who were not at the heads of their
respective classes," he says. "It made me a little angry and mostly it motivated me."
It still motivates him today.
Through his research, advocacy, and grass-roots work at Jobs for the Future, Mr. Vargas looks for
"better ways to move kids through the pipeline," and pushes higher-education officials to have a
louder voice in the conversation about high-school reform.
One of his favorite subjects is early-college high schools and other hybrid programs that he says
have promise for allowing more students to get a postsecondary credential.
In recent years he has made a name for himself as a leading advocate for harmonizing high school
and college curricula. He was an author of a policy brief, "Integrating Grades 9 Through 14: State
Policies to Support and Sustain Early College High Schools," that has been widely cited and used to
inform a handful of states -- including Georgia, Ohio, and Texas -- about ways to make the
transition from high school to college more seamless.
In other briefs, Mr. Vargas has encouraged states to create joint legislative committees that govern
both secondary and postsecondary education, give colleges incentives to convince professors to
help improve high schools, and allow students to fulfill high-school credit requirements with
Early-college high schools, now established in 19 states, combine high school and the first two
years of college so that students graduate in four or five years with a high-school diploma and
college credits or an associate degree. Either way, they are eligible to enroll in a bachelor's degree
program as a junior. While the schools have not been around long enough to produce definitive
success rates, Mr. Vargas points out that in one study of 10 such schools, 81 percent of students
were enrolled in college courses, and 96 percent of them passed those courses.
"The comprehensive high schools of today were not built with the assumption that every kid could
or should go to college, and that's fundamentally a problem," he says. "In early-college high
schools, the assumption is you're not going to fall through the cracks."
He is now working on a policy paper that will analyze data that has tracked students from high
school through the college years to try to determine where state policy makers should direct their
limited resources and which policies and programs are most promising.
"The programs and practices and the policies normally don't talk to each other," he says. "But
when they do, we'll do a better job of making sure that near-miss kids don't become fall-through-
the-cracks kids just like I could have been."
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