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.
By Eddi Ortiz, Parent and Family Engagement Coordinator, Para Los Niños Charter Schools, NCLR Affiliate
After traveling to San Antonio for the Padres Comprometidos (PC) con CHISPA training, I walked into the venue and discovered a room full of educators much like myself. Most of us were meeting each other for the first time, but all of us were at the training for the same purpose: to learn from each other and discuss how to best engage parents and families in STEM through the PC con CHISPA program. Now in our third year, PC con CHISPA introduces Latino parents around the country to the STEM concepts their children are learning at school. As a parent facilitator at the training, I had an opportunity to network, share ideas, and work in groups to improve my skills.
I discovered at the training that other parent facilitators face similar challenges in engaging parents. Para Los Niños Charter Schools, located in Los Angeles, works with our city’s most at-risk children, and provides a comprehensive approach to education. We not only focus on academic achievement, but also work to meet each student’s emotional, social, and psychological needs. The PC con CHISPA training allowed me to share best practices and ideas that are working for us at my school.
By Irma Lopez, Program Manager, New Economics for Women
I can’t believe it has been almost four years since we started CHISPA at New Economics for Women (NEW) Learning Centers. Coming to Washington, DC, for the CHISPA National Institute was a great opportunity to connect with other Affiliates who carry out the same work we do at NEW. At NEW, we want to inspire our community’s children to achieve their dreams of becoming a scientist, engineer, or astronaut!
Listening to Dr. Anita Krishnamurthi, Vice President of STEM Policy at the Afterschool Alliance and a CHISPA Advisor, opened our eyes to the high demand there is for afterschool programs throughout the United States. It was extremely powerful to hear that for every child in an afterschool program, there are two who are waiting to get in—a staggering figure when one considers that there are currently 10.2 million children enrolled in an afterschool program. Additionally, it is important to note that parents also want to see more STEM activities in their children’s afterschool programs.
The new cohort of CHISPA 2.0 educators.
Last month, NCLR welcomed its new cohort of CHISPA 2.0 educators to Fort Worth, Texas, for three days of STEM engagement.
The CHISPA (Children Investigating Science with Parents and Afterschool) program works to increase STEM learning among Latino youth, and encourages parental involvement in their children’s education. Through CHISPA, students and parents have an opportunity to foster a greater understanding of the STEM disciplines, and learn new strategies for navigating the education system.
NCLR STEM manager Juliana Ospina Cano, along with two educators from previous CHISPA cohorts, Irma Lopez from New Economics for Women and Rico Harris from the Latin American Montessori Bilingual School (LAMB), led this year’s session. The presenters discussed ways to implement CHISPA’s After-School Program Exploring Science (APEX) curriculum, as well as our parent engagement program Padres Comprometidos con CHISPA.
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.”