Education Secretary Betsy DeVos
This week, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testified before a Senate subcommittee on President Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposal for the U.S. Department of Education. Sadly, this budget receives an “F” as it slashes critical funding for public education and raises serious questions about the administration’s commitment to protect the civil rights of Latino and other historically underserved students.
At a time when schools, teachers, and low-income kids across the nation need greater support and resources to close achievement gaps, this budget cuts federal education spending by $9.2 billion or 13 percent. This includes a cut of approximately $4 billion from investments in public school programs authorized by Congress through the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
By Amelia Collins, Policy Analyst, NCLR
The president proposed an ambitious student debt plan during the campaign last year. He called student loan debt an “albatross” hanging on the necks of borrowers, proposed a generous and streamlined repayment plan, and stated that the government shouldn’t “profit” off its student loan program. However, instead of using the first 100 days of his presidency to follow through on these promises, President Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have rolled back crucial consumer protections for our nation’s 40 million student loan borrowers.
Let’s set the stage.
By Cayla Conway, ESSA Stakeholder Outreach Coordinator, Education, NCLR
NILSL Fellows Jesús Sanchez (left) and John Montoleone (right)
John Monteleone and Jesús Sanchez are members of the same gym in Lorain, Ohio. Besides their shared affinity for physical fitness, you might not think they have much else in common. Jesús is originally from Puerto Rico, while John is a native Ohioan. Jesús is an environmentalist, having studied biology, wildlife management, and plant ecology and physiology, while John’s roots have been firmly planted in Ohio’s public schools; where he ascended from teacher, to principal, to assistant superintendent. It was when they finally struck up a conversation that they realized they had a lot in common. They share a deep history with Lorain City Schools – both attended during their childhoods, and Jesús’s mother was a teacher, principal, and deputy superintendent there. The two also found that they are both passionate about education and strong advocates for the youth in their communities. In the fall of 2015, they both learned that they would be participating in the two-year National Institute for Latino School Leaders (NILSL) fellowship.
Currently, John is the Assistant Superintendent for Oberlin City Schools and Jesús is the Education Director at Cuyahoga Environmental Education Center in Ohio. Both are actively participating in NCLR’s NILSL fellowship; a program established in 2011 to bridge the divide between school practitioners and education policymakers. One of NILSL’s requirements tasks fellows with leading an advocacy project or policy-related activity related to the new education law, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), in their home state. A NILSL fellowship, though only lasting up to two years, is intended to provide the connections and training needed to create diverse education leaders for life. In the cases of John and Jesús, it appears to be doing just that.
Marisol Rerucha (pictured second from left, with the mic), is passionate about improving education for Latinos.
This past December, current and former members of NCLR’s National Institute for Latino School Leaders, or NILSL, convened in Los Angeles to talk about the current state of education and the impact of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The meeting was also an opportunity for current and former fellows to connect and talk about ways to work together. We caught up with one NILSL fellow, Marisol Rerucha of San Diego, to talk about her participation in the fellowship and what it’s meant for her. Below is the first of our semi-regular series in which we profile NILSL members.
NCLR: The December meeting was for NILSL alums and the new cohort of fellows. What were some of the biggest takeaways you left with?
Rerucha: Part of the meeting was getting an update on all of the new ESSA provisions, for getting a legislative update on where we are. What’s really important for me as an administrator is that that’s not something we as administrators are able to keep up with in our daily or even monthly work. Public policy is something I would say the vast majority of school leaders do not get to. We also got the chance to talk about potential policy work. We also spent time getting to know the new cohort.
NCLR: What specific projects did you get to work on during the December meeting?
Rerucha: I actually had a project that NCLR funded. I’m going to be creating a local NILSL for San Diego County school educators. In my work, I focus on the alternative school population. The work is going to be inviting in experts to give a legislative update and we’ll also be using the workshops that NCLR has created. The funding will also be used to take educators up to Sacramento to make recommendations for alternative schools and for ESSA implementation.
Guest blog post by Giovanni Escobedo, Youth Advisory Committee Member, NCLR
Our children grow up in a society that demands expertise in everything. Deciding to sit back and rely solely on learning from textbooks is not enough for their overall development. We live in the age of specialization, and children cannot afford to miss out on this window of opportunity and be left behind. The Tejano Center’s Raul Yzaguirre Schools for Success in Brownsville, Texas is working hard to address that problem by providing educational offerings in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields to the children of South Texas with the help NCLR’s CHISPA initiative.
At the Tejano Center, kids meet twice a week to work on science lessons and to learn what it takes to become scientists. In groups of about six students from various grade levels, they collaborate to perform experiments while simultaneously strengthening their interpersonal and leadership skills. Their conversations across the table are a sign that they understand and enjoy the lesson—and that they have mastered the complex scientific concepts to the point where they can explain them to each other in a way that is easy to understand.