This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending September 19


Week Ending September 19

This week in immigration reform: Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.) write an op-ed in The Hill highlighting Citizenship Day and the value of effective immigrant integration; NCLR posts another installment of the “Hanging in the Balance” blog series; and urges our community to register and turn out to vote in November.

–REPRESENTATIVES ROS-LEHTINEN (R-Fla.) AND CARDENAS (D-Calif.) HIGHLIGHT CITIZENSHIP DAY AND IMMIGRANT INTEGRATION:  In celebration of Citizenship Day, September 17, Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Tony Cardenas come together as first-generation Americans to recognize the importance of citizenship and the need to encourage legal permanent residents to successfully integrate and become Americans. In their op-ed, they mention the New American Success Act, their bill to improve immigrant integration, specifically with English and civics education. Enabling immigrants to access all the rights of American citizenship strengthens our communities and our country.

–NCLR CONTINUES ‘HANGING IN THE BALANCE’ SERIES WITH STORY OF FAMILY THREATENED BY DELAY IN EXECUTIVE ACTION:  The delay of executive action by the Obama Administration has put thousands of potential families at risk of separation by deportation. One such family from Ohio is highlighted in NCLR’s latest blog post. Seleste Wisniewski is an American citizen married to Pedro Hernandez Ramirez, an undocumented immigrant. Pedro has been in the United States for more than a decade and is the primary caretaker of their son, Juan, 24, who has severe cerebral palsy. Pedro is ineligible for sponsorship by his wife because he has been in the U.S. without status for too long. Seleste and her four U.S. citizen children urge President Obama to act on immigration reform so that they continue to be together as a family.

–NCLR SENDS MESSAGE TO ACTION NETWORK “This is Unacceptable.” You should have received a message in your inbox from NCLR Deputy Vice President, Clarissa Martinez- De-Castro, this week. We sent the email to our action network to share that in response to the profound disappointment to the President’s delay on executive action, we are encouraging our community to send a message to lawmakers by registering to vote and casting our ballots this November. Check out the NCLR Voter Registration Tool and share a link to it on Facebook!


Five Tips for a Healthy Brain

By Elizabeth Carrillo, Project Coordinator, Institute for Hispanic Health, NCLR

latinosandalzheimers_blog_ENGThis Sunday, September 21, is World Alzheimer’s Day. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is a progressive brain disorder that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. It affects over 5 million Americans today, mostly those aged 65 and older. Latinos are 1.5 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s but are less likely to recognize the 10 signs and symptoms, often resulting in a diagnosis at a later stage of the disease. Some risk factors, such as age and family history, cannot be controlled, but luckily there are certain steps you can take to maintain a healthy brain and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. This month is also Healthy Aging Month, so start applying these tips today!

5 Tips for a Healthy Brain

  1. Stay physically healthy. Physical exercise is essential for maintaining good blood flow to the brain and reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and obesity, all risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, avoid tobacco and excess alcohol.
  1. Adopt brain-healthy eating. Consume foods low in salt, fat, and cholesterol. Use olive, grape seed, or canola oil instead of margarine or corn oil. Try baking or grilling instead of frying. Dark-skinned vegetables and fruits, such as spinach, broccoli, red bell pepper, purple onion, plums, berries, oranges, and cherries are good for the brain. Make nuts like almonds and walnuts, and omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon, trout, and tuna, part of your nutrition.
  1. Remain mentally active. Keeping the brain active may build up brain cells and connections that help maintain it strong and healthy. Commit to life-long learning. Read, write, and work on puzzles. Learn a new skill or volunteer at a local community center, school, or church. Build and maintain a personal or community garden. Play new games that involve strategizing, like chess or dominoes.
  1. Remain active. Engaging in sports, cultural activities, dancing, emotional support, and close personal relationships are protective against Alzheimer’s. Maintain close relationships with family and friends, join a local community club or center, and participate in social gatherings!
  1. Ensure adequate vitamin intake. Studies have shown that some vitamins, like E, D, C, B12, and folate, may be important in lowering your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Consult your doctor before taking vitamins.

Our short videos below offer some insight into one Latino family’s experience with Alzheimer’s.

(video in Spanish)

(video with English subtitles)

Working for Tech Giants: Latinos Can’t Get a Break!

By Irasema Garza, J.D., Policy Advisor, NCLR Policy Analysis Center


Photo: elPadawan

Earlier this year, major tech companies based in Silicon Valley began rolling out diversity numbers, amid increased public pressure to reveal workforce demographic data. The companies’ records confirmed what Latinos already know: tech giants generally don’t hire Latinos, at least not as white-collar professional staff. Latinos make up 40 percent of California’s residents, and comprise almost 30 percent of the country’s population when combined with Blacks. Yet only 3–4 percent of the technology industry’s core workforce is made up of Latinos and Blacks; Apple is the most diverse of these companies with a paltry 7 percent Latinos and 6 percent Blacks.

The release of the tech industry’s diversity data lit up the blogosphere with commentary about how the companies can disentangle complicated technology quagmires, but diversity completely confounds them. Some industry CEOs offered mea culpa statements and expressed a desire to adopt programs that would help them develop a pipeline of diverse employees.

Latinos who work in the tech industry are overrepresented in service-related jobs, but are not considered employees of the tech companies. According to a recent report issued by Working Partnerships USA, a labor and community organization in San Jose, CA, Latinos comprise 74 percent of the tech industry’s grounds maintenance workforce, 28 percent of its security guards, and 69 percent of the janitorial staff. Service workers are not on any tech company’s payroll because they are contingent workers. That is, they are contracted by employee resource companies and in turn sourced out to the tech industry. Their wages and benefits reflect as much.

In sharp contrast to the high wages earned by the industry’s core employees, the median hourly wages for the three largest categories of con­tracted workers—landscaping workers, janitors, and security guards—are $13.82, $11.39, and $14.17, respectively. To make matters worse, the majority of these workers are not eligible for sick leave; they are not able to take a single paid sick day, unlike the core employees of the tech companies.


Photo: Texture X

While a janitor working for a tech company is unable to meet the monthly rent for an average apartment in Santa Clara County without working overtime, the technology industry is booming. In 2013, the top 150 companies in Silicon Valley earned $103 billion dollars in profits.

The tech industry has a very long way to go before it is no longer considered an industry with a homogenous workforce. Promises to improve diversity are laudable sentiments, but insufficient to gain credibility among the Latino community. Latinos have heard about building corporate pipelines to improve diversity for decades, but they have yet to see meaningful results. To be sure, many companies nationwide have increased workforce diversity over the decades because they made diversity hiring an organizational priority, and they adopted policies to ensure that a culture of diversity permeated their organizations. Silicon Valley CEOs should do the same, not simply because their dismal diversity rates are now public, but because it is well-established that a diverse workforce can increase productivity and benefit a company’s bottom line.

Good corporate policy is one that insists its workforce mirrors the demographics of its customer base. So with the exponential growth of young technology adopters in Latino and Black communities, there is no excuse for industry CEOs to delay polices that will accelerate diversity hiring to increase the number of Latinos in high-paying tech jobs, including leadership positions. In the meantime, industry CEOs would do well to fold Latino and other service workers into their companies’ payrolls, or at least increase their pay to meet livable wage standards.

Delayed Executive Action Threatens to Shatter an Ohio Family

Hanging in the balance-01

The recent announcement by the Obama administration to delay the promised executive action on immigration will affect millions of hardworking individuals and their families. Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants will be deported while we wait for the president to bring some sanity to a broken immigration system.

HouseImmigrationBill_pic_newOne family in Ohio deeply understands the dire consequences of delay. Seleste Wisniewski, an American citizen, is desperately worried that her husband, Pedro Hernandez Ramirez, may be deported in the coming days. Pedro, who has lived and worked in the U.S. for more than a decade, was just notified that his yearlong stay of deportation had been canceled and he would be sent back to Mexico soon. Pedro is ineligible to be sponsored by his U.S. citizen wife because he has been in this country out of status for too long.

The biggest impact of Pedro’s deportation would be felt by their four U.S. citizen children—particularly Juan, 24, who has severe cerebral palsy. Pedro is the only one in their home who can lift Juan in and out of his wheelchair, bed, and bath. The family also depends on Pedro’s income from working in a landscape nursery.

In a recent story in The New York Times, Seleste asked an urgent question of Obama and the politicians who convinced him to delay action: “Why are we going to wait until later to fix a problem we have today?”

Seleste has been advocating on behalf of her husband publicly for the last year, when Pedro was detained in a county jail and days away from deportation before he received a stay. He returned to his family, and ever since they have been hoping that Washington would act in time to spare him. When Congress failed to move forward this spring, Seleste and Pedro were relieved to hear President Obama promise to provide some relief “by summer’s end.” Now that broken promise could have a shattering impact on their family.

The recent delay has been devastating for the entire family. Their 17-year-old daughter, Stephanie, said that Pedro is the “glue” keeping the family together and the one who teaches her “right from wrong.” Their five-year-old son loves to play basketball with his dad but lives in fear that he will be taken away again—this time forever.

Seleste knows they are “in a race against time.” She doesn’t understand why she has to “choose between her husband and her country.” She is pleading with President Obama to act as quickly as possible to ensure that her family stays together.

Latino Poverty Rates in Decline, Household Financial Anxiety Remains High

highway-guardrail_560x292New Census data is out which shows that Latinos’ hard work is translating into higher income and lower poverty. According to the data, there were 900,000 fewer Latinos, including 500,000 fewer Latino kids, who were living in poverty in 2013 compared to the year prior. The poverty rate is still alarmingly high at 23.5 percent for 2013, but the new data shows some improvement.

“We are pleased to see an improvement in these indicators of economic well-being. Half a million fewer Latino children in poverty is a testament to our community’s commitment to hard work and sacrifice,” said Vice President of Policy, Eric Rodriguez in a statement. “However, all American workers, including Latinos, would have experienced greater gains had it not been for the congressional choices that have stunted economic growth and slashed investments in education, housing and nutrition services. This austerity agenda, together with stagnant wages, has left too many working families without sufficient income or supports to meet their basic needs.”

You can read more in our analysis of the data, available below.

2013 Data Latino Poverty Analysis

Taking a Closer Look at Racial Injustice in America

Recently, NCLR held a Capitol Hill briefing on racial injustice in America. Speakers at the event included: Dr. Francisco Villarreal of Michigan State University, The Honorable Steven Teske, Juvenile Court of Clayton County, GA /National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Kevin Bethel of the Philadelphia Police Department, Luis Cardona of the Montgomery County Gang Prevention Initative, and Jessica Sandoval of the Campaign for Youth Justice. Congressman Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.) was also in attendance at the event.

Watch the whole briefing below:

Weekly Washington Outlook – September 15, 2014

White House at Night

What to Watch This Week:


House of Representatives

On Monday evening, the House will vote on a number of bills under suspension of the rules:

1) H.R. 4771 – Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts / Energy and Commerce Committee)

2) S. 2154 – Emergency Medical Services for Children Reauthorization Act of 2014 (Sponsored by Sen. Robert Casey / Energy and Commerce Committee)

3) H.R. 83 – To require the Secretary of the Interior to assemble a team of technical, policy, and financial experts to address the energy needs of the insular areas of the United States and the Freely Associated States through the development of action plans aimed at reducing reliance on imported fossil fuels and increasing use of indigenous clean-energy resources, and for other purposes, as amended (Sponsored by Del. Donna Christensen / Energy and Commerce Committee)

4) H.R. 3044 – To approve the transfer of Yellow creek Port properties in Iuka, Mississippi (Sponsored by Rep. Alan Nunnelee / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)

5) S. 1086 – The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014, as amended (Sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski / Education and Workforce Committee)

6) H.R. 5108 – To establish the Law School Clinic Certification Program of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries / Judiciary Committee)

7) H.R. 3006 – To authorize a land exchange involving the acquisition of private land adjacent to the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona for inclusion in the refuge in exchange for certain Bureau of Land Management lands in Riverside County, California (Sponsored by Rep. Ken Calvert / Natural Resources Committee)

8) S. 476 – A bill to amend the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Development Act to extend to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park Commission(Sponsored by Rep. Ben Cardin / Natural Resources Committee)

9) S. 1603 – Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation Act (Sponsored by Sen. Debbie Stabenow/Natural Resources Committee)

10) H.R. 5205 – Northern Nevada Land Conservation and Economic Development Act (Sponsored by Rep. Mark Amodei / Natural Resources Committee)

11) H.R. 3222 – Flushing Remonstrance Study Act (Sponsored by Rep. Grace Meng / Natural Resources Committee)

12) H.R. 2569 – Upper Missisquoi and Trout Wild and Scenic Rivers Act(Sponsored by Rep. Peter Welch / Natural Resources Committee)

13) H.R. 4119 – West Hunter Street Baptist Church Study Act (Sponsored by Rep. Hank Johnson / Natural Resources Committee)

14) H.R. 5405 – Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick / Financial Services Committee)

15) H.R. 3374 – American Savings Promotion Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Derek Kilmer / Financial Services Committee)

16) H.R. ____ – Insurance Capital Standards Clarification Act of 2014(Sponsored by Rep. Andy Barr / Financial Services Committee)

17) H.R. 2866 – Boys Town Centennial Commemorative Coin Act, as amended(Sponsored by Rep. Lee Terry / Financial Services Committee)

18) H.R. 2996 – Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2013, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Tom Reed / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)

On Tuesday and the balance of the week, the House is scheduled to consider the following:

1) H.R. 3593 – The VA Construction Assistance Act of 2014, as amended(Sponsored by Rep. Mike Coffman / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

2) H.R. 5404 – Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2014, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Denham / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

3) H.R. 4276 – Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Improvement Act of 2014(Sponsored by Rep. Bill Cassidy / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

4) S. 2258 – Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2014(Sponsored by Sen. Mark Begich / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

5) H.R. 24 – Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2013 (Sponsored by Rep. Paul Broun / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

6) H.R. 5169 – Senior Executive Service Accountability Act, as amended(Sponsored by Rep. Tim Walberg / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

7) H.R.5170 – Federal Records Accountability Act of 2014, as amended(Sponsored by Rep. Mark Meadows / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

8) H.R. 5418 – To prohibit officers and employees of the Internal Revenue Service from using personal email accounts to conduct official business(Sponsored by Rep. Charles Boustany / Ways and Means Committee)

9) H.R. 5419 – To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for a right to an administrative appeal relating to adverse determinations of tax-exempt status of certain organizations (Sponsored by Rep. Charles Boustany / Ways and Means Committee)

10) H.R. 5420 – To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to permit the release of information regarding the status of certain investigations (Sponsored by Rep. Charles Boustany / Ways and Means Committee)

11) H.R. 3043 – Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act of 2013 (Sponsored by Rep. Devin Nunes / Ways and Means Committee)

12) H.R. 495 – Free File Program Act of 2014, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Peter Roskam / Ways and Means Committee)

13) H.R. 4137 – Preserving Welfare for Needs Not Weed Act (Sponsored by Rep. Dave Reichert / Ways and Means Committee)

14) H.R. 4994 – Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation (IMPACT) Act of 2014, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Dave Camp / Ways and Means Committee)

15) H.R. ___ – To amend title 49, United States Code, to provide for limitations on the fees charged to passengers of air carriers (Sponsored by Rep. Richard Hudson / Homeland Security Committee)

H.J. Res. 124 – Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2015 (Subject to a Rule)(Sponsored by Rep. Hal Rogers / Appropriations Committee)

H.R. ___ – American Energy Solutions for Lower Costs and More American Jobs Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Lee Terry / Natural Resources Committee / Energy and Commerce Committee)

H.R. ___ – Jobs for America Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Dave Camp / Ways and Means Committee)

On Thursday, the House and Senate will meet for a joint session for the purpose of receiving the Honorable Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine.


The Senate will take a procedural vote Monday evening on the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199) and two nominees to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  Later in the week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) may bring up stalled legislation to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 (S. 2223).

White House:

On Monday, the president will award the Medal of Honor to Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins and to Army Specialist Four Donald P. Sloat for conspicuous gallantry. In the evening, President Obama will attend a DSCC event in Washington, DC.  On Tuesday, he will travel to Atlanta to visit the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he will receive a briefing on the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa, discuss the U.S. response and thank the scientists, doctors and health care workers helping those affected by disease at home and around the world. The president will also receive an updated on the respiratory illness reported in several states in the Midwest.  In the evening, President Obama will travel to Tampa, Fla., where he will remain overnight.  On Wednesday, the president will visit U.S. Central Command at the MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL. CENTCOM’s area of responsibility includes 20 countries in the Middle East and Central and South Asia, including Iraq and Syria. The president will receive a briefing from his top commanders at CENTCOM, and thank the men and women who will partner with others in the region to carry out the president’s strategy to degrade and defeat ISIL. In the afternoon, he will return to Washington, DC to hosta picnic for Members of Congress at the White House in the evening.  On Thursday morning President Obama will participate in an Ambassador Credentialing Ceremony in the Oval Office.  At this event, he will receive the credentials from foreign Ambassadors recently posted in Washington. The presentation of credentials is a traditional ceremony that marks the formal beginning of an Ambassador’s service in Washington.  In the afternoon, the president will host President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine at the White House. The visit will highlight the United States’ firm commitment to stand with Ukraine as it pursues liberal democracy, stability, and prosperity.  President Obama looks forward to discussing with President Poroshenko efforts to pursue a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in eastern Ukraine as well as our continued support for Ukraine’s struggle to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.  In the evening, the president will attend a DNC event in Washington, DC. On Friday, President Obama will participate in an event with the DNC’s Women’s Leadership Forum in Washington, DC.

Also This Week:

Appropriations – House members had initially planned to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government through December 11th at current levels last week.  In order to have time to decide how to move forward with the President’s last minute request for additional funds to fight ISIL and potentially authorize the use of force against the terrorist group, Leadership postponed consideration of the measure.  A vote on a stopgap spending measure is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday or Wednesday, allowing the Senate to hopefully pass this quickly by the end of this week or early next.

Healthcare – CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner will testify Thursday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the status of  On the floor, members will vote on an omnibus tax bill, the Jobs for America Act, which includes ACA-related language to limit the law’s scope and a repeal of the medical device tax.  Elsewhere, the Census Bureau will release tomorrow its annual estimate of health insurance coverage.

Education – The House will vote on Monday on an amended version of a Senate-passed re-authorization of the Child Care Development Block Grant.  The reworked language is the product of bipartisan and bicameral negotiations to update childcare programs for low-income families.

Banking – The Senate Banking Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on Thursday on consumer financial issues, including small dollar lending, credit reporting, debt collection, auto lending, and others.  In the House, members will vote on a series of Dodd-Frank related bills aimed at limiting regulatory authority.

Ending the $2.13/Hour Tipped Minimum Wage Will Narrow the Latino Pay Gap

By Ricky Garza, Communications Coordinator, NCLR

Photo: Torbakhopper

Photo: Torbakhopper

While cities across the country are fighting for increases in the minimum wage, thousands of servers are stuck earning the shockingly low federal tipped minimum wage of $2.13 an hour. Unlike the standard minimum wage of $7.25, the tipped minimum wage has remained unchanged for 23 years, forcing workers to rely on tips for the majority of their income.

For these workers, who are disproportionately Latino, $2.13 per hour plus tips is rarely enough to make ends meet.

In a recent National Journal piece, tip work and insufficient pay are a fact of life for Jimmie Luthuli, a tipped worker earning $2.77 in Washington, DC. Though federal law says tipped workers earning less than the standard minimum wage after tips must be paid the difference—called the tip credit—Jimmie Luthuli often makes far less. According to the Economic Policy Institute, 83.8 percent of full-service restaurants surveyed by the Department of Labor violated tip credit provisions.

Fortunately, some states have countered such labor violations by revising their minimum wage laws for tipped workers. In eight states around the country, the tipped minimum wage has been abolished in favor of a single minimum wage for all workers, tipped or otherwise. According to a new study from the National Women’s Law Center, these states have made progress in closing the pay gap between Latina workers and White men and reducing poverty rates between men and women.

In states that maintain separate tipped and standard minimum wages, the pay gap is larger. For these states, Latinas working full-time earn $0.51 on every White male worker’s dollar, a wage gap of $0.49. For Latinas working in states with a single minimum wage for all works, the pay gap falls slightly to $0.47. Although the decrease is small, the study underscores the fact that minimum wage policies have real implications for reducing racial pay disparities.

Beyond this, the report also found female tipped minimum wage workers in states without a separate tipped minimum wage have poverty rates 33 percent lower than in states with tipped minimum wages of $2.13 an hour. While women still had higher poverty rates than men in all states, ending the tipped minimum wage made a significant difference in lowering these rates.

The tipped minimum wage should end and be replaced with a strong living wage applicable to all workers. Policymakers from city halls to statehouses to Congress should ensure no one working full-time is forced to live in poverty. For Latino families, raising the minimum wage for all workers would represent a significant step in the fight against poverty and the persistent racial wealth gap. It’s time to end the unconscionably low tipped minimum wage and give all workers the robust living wage they deserve.

Unmasking the Common Core: Shedding Light on Its Educational Benefits

By Kevin Myers, Director of Academic Achievement, Youth Policy Institute Charter Schools

40x504_commoncore_72aAt the Youth Policy Institute Charter Schools (YPICS), we have been focusing on the big picture. A huge portion of our summer professional development series was spent refocusing on our school hallmarks, mission, vision, and outcomes. A clear understanding of why we are doing what we are doing is imperative to the success of an organization. Many people jump into a job, a frame of mind, or a pedagogy without fully understanding the big picture or the “why” behind it. This is certainly true for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and many people who do not understand the purpose behind these standards are raising huge concerns about them.

When I was a student trudging my way through the college track for math at my high school, I struggled on homework and tests if the assigned problems differed in any way from the examples given in class. Anything short of substituting new numbers into the algorithm demonstrated in class would send me on a downward spiral of confusion and frustration, leading me to come in early the next day to work with my teacher on my homework. At the time, I did not have any concept of instructional pedagogy. I didn’t know that my teacher was teaching to a very low depth of understanding. It was similar in my other classes. I had always enjoyed reading, but mainly I enjoyed stories for their plot and not necessarily for the deeper meanings and lessons intended to be learned by the reader. I needed support and instruction that would scaffold my learning and thinking; I needed guidance in order to think more analytically.

The instruction required by the CCSS is different than the state standards we have all grown to know and understand, and this is scary for some people. Parents who learned reading, writing, and arithmetic another way are fearful about how they will support their kids as the current generation of students learns concepts in a totally new instructional paradigm. Teachers who have been using a certain set of strategies for their entire career are worried about how to instruct their classes with this new set of standards.

CCSS_boys_303x197But a lot of this discomfort is fear of the unknown. Many people are attacking the CCSS without reading them or fully understanding that the underlying purpose of these standards is better comprehension. We don’t just want our kids to be able to “do problems” or to simply read a text; we want our kids to push to deeper levels of analysis and understanding that will help them succeed in college and in their careers. And that is what is at the heart of Common Core State Standards.

At Youth Policy Institute Charter Schools in Los Angeles, we have fully embraced the Common Core standards. We see them as a set of requirements that will guide our teachers to do what they do best: teach! We feel that teaching the Common Core is not new and different—it’s just quality instruction. Our goal has always been college readiness for all of our students. At YPICS, we ask our kids to CRACLL: to be College Ready, Active Citizens, and Lifelong Learners. The depth of understanding required by the Common Core allows our teachers to continue to develop lessons that will help our kids to not only CRACLL, but to also be ready for college and for their careers.

As a nation of students returns to school, teachers need to be ready to implement the Common Core State Standards. Instead of facing this new endeavor with fear and apprehension, I would encourage our country’s teachers to dive in and give the CCSS their all. Teachers want success for their kids, and quality implementation of the Common Core State Standards will help our kids to get there.