NCLR has long been at the forefront of education reform. Our policy team has advocated for English learners (ELs) and helped pass the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the federal education law that updates the landmark Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, most recently known as “No Child Left Behind.”
Our policy efforts are highly visible. Our programmatic work, which supports and serves hundreds of youth and educators throughout the nation, has also grown exponentially in the past decade. This past week was a highlight for the NCLR Education team, which hosted the first combined institute in Fort Worth, Texas, to spotlight four NCLR Education programs: the National Institute for Latino School Leaders (NILSL), Padres Comprometidos, Children Investigating Science with Parents and Afterschool (CHISPA) and the annual Leadership Institute for Latino Literacy (LILL).
“Individually, our programs have grown tremendously, providing great resources and training to hundreds of educators throughout the country,” said Dr. Margaret “Peggy” McLeod, Deputy Vice President of Education and Workforce Development at NCLR. “The decision to host this convening, however, was born out of a desire to create a collaborative platform where educators, parents, advocates and Affiliates could come together, exchange ideas, and glean from the individual approaches they are taking to improve education outcomes for Latino students.”
Educators from all four programs had the opportunity to hear from keynote presenters Dr. Carmen Gonzalez, Assistant Professor for the Department of Communication at the University of Washington, and Dr. Vikki Katz, Associate Professor at the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University.
Dr. Gonzalez and Dr. Katz talked about the importance of technology access for Latino families. They provided expertise to LILL participants, specifically with identifying needs in local digital ecosystems. Each year, LILL provides hands-on training in literacy best practices, the opportunity to network with other equity-focused schools, and resources to prepare for changes that impact school work. At this year’s Institute, participants collaborated to improve literacy instruction and family engagement through a deeper understanding of the opportunities and challenges presented by new technologies in the classroom and home.
Maria Moser, NCLR’s Senior Director of Teaching and Learning, led a luncheon conversation on civic engagement. The High School Democracy Project, an in-house, high school curriculum that aims to increase youth voter participation and engagement was a focus, as well as our voter registration app developed with mitú. Attendees also heard from Erika Beltran, member of the Texas State Board of Education, who discussed how to advance policies that are addressing the needs of Latinos and EL students in Texas.
Following each keynote address, participants attended program-specific training sessions. Affiliate facilitators of Padres Comprometidos received training to recruit and use the curriculum to empower Latino parents.
Also at the convening, a new cohort of CHISPA Affiliates received training to implement and sustain the program at their schools.
The NILSL Fellows received an overview of the new accountability regulations the U.S. Department of Education released. They worked in teams to draft comments regarding the regulations that address accountability indicators, measures, and timelines that relate to English learners and Latino students. Collectively, they prepared a power map that equips them with the knowledge to make relevant education policy connections.
“In thinking about my experiences these last few days, I learned how important it is to make connections and develop relationships with the key state representatives in Ohio to assist NCLR in strongly advocating for ELs as we prepare for the implementation of ESSA not only in Lorain City Schools but in the entire state of Ohio,” said Fellow John Monteleone, Principal at Lorain City Schools.
The Education Summer Institutes set a bar for quality professional development addressing the needs of Latino students and families. These NCLR Affiliates are now better equipped to address the challenges Latino students face and engage their families.
The NCLR website houses all of the resources shared during the Institute, including downloadable curricula, PowerPoints, and links to shared applications and resources. NCLR presented the Education Summer Institutes through generous support from StateFarm and Verizon. The NILSL program is funded through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and CHISPA through Freddie Mac.