The African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” is a parable that resonates with many in our community, particularly with Sydney Kamlager-Dove, elected president of the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) for Board of Trustees. LACCD is the largest community college district in the nation and it has positioned Dove in “Seat 3” on the Board.
The second Black woman elected president of the Board since its inception, Dove is passionate about the significance of education and the community. She feels Southern California deserves a healthy educational system that works for the college community and looks to help LACCD improve a system that doesn’t always work for urban communities. “There hasn’t been a female or Black president on the board in about 20 years. It’s great to show diversity on the board in terms of leadership on the board,” exclaims Kamlager-Dove.
She is the district director for Senator Holly J. Mitchell (D-30) and is responsible for strategic operations including legislative and constituent initiatives. Dove is the Commissioner on the L.A. County Commission on Children and Families for District 2. Committed and caring, Dove continues to advocate and service the community for a better education.
Proven to be more than qualified for the job, Dove has worked over 20 years in the private, public, non-profit, entertainment, and policy sectors. She continues to create programs and resources that connect the community to accessible businesses, educational and financial programs. Her work, accomplishments throughout her career as well investment in students and her leadership in the community shows an undying commitment to the Los Angeles Community College District.
Dove’s agenda on education explains her innovative initiatives, programs and plans that implement programs that will foster success among college students looking to further their education at community colleges and beyond.
“We are excited this year to be kicking off L.A. College Promise; it is in response to former president Obama’s national call to make community college tuition free for students. L.A. College Promise is in partnership with L.A. Unified School District and is starting this fall for all graduates of LAUSD, who will receive one year of free tuition to any of our nine colleges,” she reveals on her initiatives for college students.
Dove looks to reinvigorate the foundation of education at community colleges. “It is great that community colleges are not seen just as an economic bridge for students interested in going to a 4-year university, but an academic bridge for young people who need an extra push to help them get college ready,” said Dove.
Her plans are to make education accessible and profitable for students before they enter into their college career. She executes this plan with a “Dual Enrollment” (DE) program for students. The program allows students to combine their studies with college courses. “We have a dual enrollment opportunity for all high school students who aren’t solely taking honor classes,” acknowledges Dove.
The LACCD is partnered with UC’s, USC and now are connected with Historical Black Colleges and Universities. “For your readers, it is important that they know we have an agreement with 19 HBCU’s, that allow for priority transfer enrollment for students interested in attending a Historical Black University. We offer tours for HBCU’s to get a sense of them and what it would be like to attend one of them,” Dove states.
Dove’s plan is to open new doors for 2-year college students, however, she hopes to fix the social and economic oppositions many of them face. She understands that foster youth deal with financial and housing burdens that disrupts their college career. “When I was running for office, I met with a lot of students who were in the foster care system and they talked about having challenges staying in school due to insecurity, having to worry about where they were going to sleep that night and as a result they were in school much longer than they had anticipated,” said Dove.
“They have problems staying in school, because they don’t understand how financial aid and applying for grants work. We have a homeless liaison, for each of our community college to help our formal foster youth students with housing resources,” she adds.
Dove recalls a student going to school for fashion designing, doing her homework under a street lamp because she was homeless. “How do we address that? We want to think all we have to do is take a class and get a certain grade, but we’re dealing with Los Angeles residents who have affordable housing issues and an increasing number of foster students, who have been through a system that doesn’t work for them. We have to make sure when they get into our system, it works!”
Dove is giving the disadvantage an advantage with a multitude of programs and resources. The John Burton Foundation aids youth, providing resources and support for former foster youth in education, health and housing. Students learn how to navigate the college system while attaining financial aid. “There is a Guardian Scholar program at each campus for them to connect to and purchase textbooks. The program monitors their performance in and out classes with a college counselor,” she explains.
She is not only interested in supporting education for college students, but providing opportunities for troubled youth who see Los Angeles Community Colleges as a means to a better future.
“I have talk to young people coming out of prison who tell me going to a community college has saved their life. I was committed then and remain committed to working on the behalf of those special populations,” states Dove.
She discusses apprenticeship-training programs and laboring organizations that help former incarcerated youth. Career and Technical Education (CTE), a vocational program at Los Angeles Trade Tech (LATTC) allows students to learn core academics and hands-on training to become a nurse, architect, plumber, or electrician.
Dove suggests rehabilitation programs as way of giving at-risk youth a second chance. Non-profit program, Anti-Recidivism Coalition, located at LATTC restores young men and women coming out of prison, helping them with housing, jobs, education, navigate the legal system and to understand fairer criminal justice policies.
She looks to increase job opportunities, by bridging the gap between community colleges and employers in business and labor. Dove feels building a relationship with businesses will help student’s academic and professional careers. Her incentive is to give students a chance to benefit from a competitive workforce.
“This one of my initiatives; a partnership between LATTC, Los Angeles Southwest College (LASC) and Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), that offers a vocational curriculum at LASC to create a Cedars-Sinai program in the airport. People looking to get one of the many jobs at the airport can now find their way through LASC,” she said.
Among her many plans to expand services to improve community college curriculum, she securing funding for the LACCD, to eliminate budget cuts which have become a hindrance on college courses, faculty and school maintence.
In her mission to serve the community, Dove responds to headline news dealing with the government policies on education.
In recent news, universities across the nation are being sued due to what is deemed as “reverse racism” in response to affirmative action being used to discriminate against White students in admittance to schools.
President Donald Trump challenges affirmative action in admission policies, which were put in place to accept minority students who are often discriminated against in the college admission process.
Dove feels it’s not so much about education or hierarchy, but the disenfranchisement of the public school system being at work for youth. “We know here in the Los Angeles Unified School District, that 86 percent of students that go to LAUSD schools are Black, Brown and Asian. We know that in the L.A. college system, 82 percent are minorities. Most are coming to our colleges from the k- 12 public school system,” she adds. “Its more about dismantling a public school system over the last 40 years that has allocated more access, equity, parity and has worked to make opportunities available to Black families and communities,” argues Dove. “I think the anti-affirmative action policy is being proposed by the Trump Administration, is a tactic to de-educate Black, Brown and Asian students.”
Kamlager-Dove remains devoted to enhancing a constricting educational system for college students and underserved communities. “I think it’s important to focus on these issues. If it is important enough to be discussed by Congresswoman Karen Bass, Senator Holly J. Mitchell and Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, they are certainly important enough to be discussed by me on this board,” Dove concludes.