Assemblywoman Marie Waldron
Special to Valley News
As the mother of a high school student, education has always been one of my top concerns. That’s why I’m so encouraged by “GEAR UP” — Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. That’s a long name for a beneficial program that has helped almost 1 million low-income students in 48 states, the District of Colombia, and several U.S. territories.
In this region, Palomar College’s GEAR UP program served 6,877 students in six high schools in 2016, including Escondido, Orange Glen, San Pasqual, San Marcos, Mission Hills and Del Lago Academy. The program is now expanding to middle schools in Valley Center, Fallbrook and Vista.
GEAR UP is a U.S. Department of Education grant program, in collaboration with business partners, which helps fund education. One program goal is to better connect commerce, future industries and students. The overall goal is to create “college-going, college readiness” cultures in schools and communities served, by working with teachers, counselors, local higher education institutions, their leaders and parents.
The GEAR UP program improves academic performance, increases graduation rates, and prepares participating students to transition from middle school to high school and ultimately college, with a special focus on at-risk, low –income, first-generation students. The program also provides a network of support for adults – counselors, faculty, school leaders and families, all of whom have a tremendous impact on students. GEAR UP encourages students to master rigorous academic standards leading to success in high school and beyond.
Fifty-five percent of local GEAR UP students ultimately become first-generation college students, 84 percent passed their AP courses in 2015-16, and 87 percent took the PSAT in 2015. Thousands of local students have benefited from GEAR UP – a great program.
Assemblymember Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, represents the 75th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the communities of Bonsall, Escondido, Fallbrook, Hidden Meadows, Palomar Mountain, Pauma Valley, Rainbow, San Marcos, Temecula, Valley Center and Vista.