The Los Angeles Unified School District, Local District South and the Los Angeles Community College District have reached a groundbreaking agreement enabling Mervyn M. Dymally High School students to complete a college degree through Los Angeles Trade Technical College while still in high school.

Known as the Dymally Early College Academy (DECA), the program seeks to improve graduation rates, and to promote college readiness. More importantly, dual enrollment opportunities will be expanded to students who otherwise may not be college bound, or who are racial minorities underrepresented on college campuses.

For Dymally students, the dual enrollment program is designed to be transformative. Courses and textbooks will be paid for, helping students sidestep one roadblock to college graduation—cost.

Dr. Richard Vladovic, a Los Angeles Board of Education member, sees allaying college costs as paramount.

“I am very pleased that our South L.A. students have yet another dual-enrollment opportunity as provided by Los Angeles Trade Technical College,” Dr. Vladovic said. “Access to higher education should not have a cost barrier, and by providing simultaneous enrollment for students still in high school, precious time and dollars can be shaved off post-high school educational pathways, enabling our students to have a clear, affordable road to success.”

Superintendent Dr. Michelle King urged students to participate in the program, and to pursue options, like this, if college costs appear burdensome. “Our goal is preparing students for the future, and we are teaming up with colleges to make higher education not only more affordable, but possible for them. This program offers one more way of achieving that goal.”

Local District South Superintendent, Christopher Downing, agrees the financial issue is critically important. “This partnership offers substantial financial benefits, while simultaneously providing our students with a rigorous instruction from L.A. Trade Tech professors, and four diverse college pathway options.

“We appreciate this opportunity to partner with L.A.Trade Tech,” Downing added. “It promises to be a mutually beneficial relationship, but its greatest beneficiaries will be the students and parents of South Los Angeles.”

The program, which is scheduled to begin this coming school year, offers four distinct pathways to earning an associate’s degree: business, liberal arts, senior care, and digital media. While curricula will vary significantly, every pathway exposes students to college-level academics, while students work in a “supportive high school environment.”

Courses will be offered at Dymally (to provide a familiar, comfortable setting) and at L.A. Trade Tech (to introduce students to a college atmosphere). Students need to complete approximately 30 college units. This will accomplished by forming student cadres—beginning in the 9th and 10th grades.

Dymally’s Principal Simone Charles is elated to help students obtain a college degree.

“Our students deserve the best; it is our responsibility to provide nothing but the best for them; that’s what the DECA program is all about. I can’t even begin to tell you how eager I am to start forming my 9th and 10th grade DECA cadres.”