Governor, mayors meet for better schools

March 26, 2008 7:25:29 PM PDT
How to reduce California's dismal drop-out rate was on the Governor's agenda Wednesday. Only 67 percent of California students graduate from high school. It costs many of those young people a better future -- and it costs the state billions of dollars.

It's a reality that Governor Schwarzenegger and a dozen California mayors confronted Wednesday.

The Governor sat down with mayors to discuss ways to improve California's high school dropout rate, which is close to 30 percent.

Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums paid close attention. His city has one of the highest rates.

"Oakland, in terms of young African American males, 70 percent of them who started 9th grade, don't make it throughout high school," says Dellums.

Each year in California, about 120,000 students drop out of high school. According to the state, that ends up costing California about $46 billion dollars over their lifetime.

"They just don't drop out, they drop in, They drop in to the city services, drug programs, a lot of time it ends up in violence."

Some become involved in gangs. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, today there are 171,000 juveniles and adults in California associated with gangs. And those who end up on welfare, don't pay taxes.

The Governor and mayors agreed -- there needs to be a better working relationship between city officials and the people who work in the school districts.

"Most of the mayors here said, 'Hey I don't have any kind of relationship with my superintendent, the superintendent can't stand me, I can't stand my school board, they've never liked me, they seem radical,' so this is about bridging that gap," says San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

This is the first of several meetings between the mayors and the Governor. A summit is being planned to bring new ideas to the table.