Mi CASA Es Su CASA: Cultivating Agents of Change to Serve the Latino Community

By Feliza I. Ortiz-Licon, Ed.D., Senior Director, Education Leadership Development

Earlier this month, the country mourned the loss of “The Greatest,” boxer Muhammad Ali. News outlets and social media platforms were inundated with some of Ali’s most memorable quotes, including “the service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” It is this spirit of service and giving back to the community that drives many of the middle school students participating in NCLR’s youth leadership program, CASA-Cultura, Aprendizaje, Servicio, Acción (Culture, Learning, Service, Action). The goal of this service-learning program is to equip students with the necessary skills to identify genuine needs in the Latino community and address them through a two-pronged approach of academic learning and service actions.

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Five Latino Disparities in Education Revealed in New Civil Rights Data

By Viviann Anguiano, Intern, Education Policy Project

Recently, two high school valedictorians in Texas revealed their undocumented status. Yale-bound Larissa Martinez and Mayte Lara Ibarra, holding a 4.5 GPA, declared undocumented status. Mayte and Larissa are true exemplars of academic success and beating the odds. These challenges are apparent in the newly released Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) by the U.S. Department of Education, revealing the continued inequities faced by Latino students, English learners, students of color, and students with disabilities. Here are five racial disparities in American public schools that beg our attention.

  1. Latino, along with American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and multiracial high school students, are 2.66 times more likely to be held back in high school compared to their White counterparts.In the same vein, Black students are 3.75 times more likely to be retained compared to White students.
  2. Latino and Black students are underrepresented in AP courses. These students account for 38% of students in schools that offer Advanced Placement courses, but only 29% of such students enrolled in at least one AP course. English learners, moreover, represent 5% of students in schools that offer AP courses, but only 2% of students enrolled in one AP course.
  3. Black and Latino students in schools that offer gifted and talented education (GATE) programs are 1.76 times less likely to have access to GATE programs than their White counterparts. The difference is even larger among English learners in GATE schools, who are 4.3 times less likely to have access to GATE programs when compared to White students in schools offering GATE programs.
  4. Not only do Latino and Black students have less access to high-level math and science courses, but they are also 1.89 times less likely to be enrolled in calculus courses. English learners are also underrepresented in advanced courses, accounting for 5% of students in schools that offer calculus and only 1% of students enrolled.
  5. Fifty-one percent of high schools with high Latino and Black enrollment have sworn in law enforcement officers. This means that predominately Latino and Black schools have more police and policing than schools with low Latino and Black enrollment.

The CRDC unveils vast disparities in access to opportunity among historically vulnerable populations of students. Latino and English learner students continue to get less access to the resources and supports that lead to academic success. As the nation embarks on a historic implementation of the newly signed Every Student Succeeds Act, it is imperative to strive for closing opportunity gaps for vulnerable kids.

2016 Workforce Development Forum Wrap-Up


On May 4, NCLR and some of the top business minds in the country convened the annual NCLR Workforce Development Forum in Las Vegas. The goal of the Forum was to help educate attendees on coming demographic shifts in the American workforce and their implications for the economy, as well as to provide best practices in integrating new American workers into the workforce. Attendees, stakeholders, experts, and corporate representatives spent two days discussing how employers and their employees can most effectively work together to create an efficient and conscientious workforce.

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Weekly Washington Outlook — September 28, 2015

What to Watch This Week:



On Monday, the House will consider legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • R. 1624 – Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Brett Guthrie / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • 136 – Gold Star Fathers Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • R. 313 – Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Stephen Lynch / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • 565 – Federal Vehicle Repair Cost Savings Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. Gary Peters / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • R. 3089 – Grants Oversight and New Efficiency (GONE) Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Tim Walberg / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • R. 3614 – Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  • 139 – Ensuring Access to Clinical Trials Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden / Ways and Means Committee)
  • R. 2061 – Equitable Access to Care and Health (EACH) Act (Sponsored by Rep. Rodney Davis / Ways and Means Committee)
  • R. 3594 – Higher Education Extension Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Bishop / Education and the Workforce Committee)
  • R. 2617 – To amend the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 to postpone a scheduled increase in the minimum wage applicable to American Samoa, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Amata Radewagen / Education and the Workforce Committee)
  • R. 2786 – Cross-Border Rail Security Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Filemon Vela / Homeland Security Committee)
  • R. 2835 – Border Jobs for Veterans Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Martha McSally / Homeland Security Committee)
  • Concur in the Senate Amendment to R. 2051 – Agriculture Reauthorizations Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Conaway / Agriculture Committee)

On Tuesday, the House will also consider legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • R. 3596 – Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)
  • R. 3595 – To extend the authorization to carry out the replacement of the existing medical center of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Denver, Colorado, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

The House will also vote on H.R. 3495 – Women’s Public Health and Safety Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Sean Duffy / Energy and Commerce Committee)

On Wednesday and the balance of the week, the House will vote on the following:

  • R. ___ – Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Patrick Meehan / Foreign Affairs Committee)
  • Legislation related to Continuing Government Funding for FY2016

Consideration of the Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 1735 – National Defense Authorization Act for FY2016 is possible, as well as a reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.


The Senate has scheduled a procedural vote Monday evening on the legislative vehicle for a clean continuing resolution to fund the government through December 11th.

White House:

On Monday and Tuesday, President Obama will be in New York for the United Nations General Assembly. He will attend meetings at the White House the balance of the week.

Also This Week:

Immigration – The Senate Judiciary Committee has rescheduled a mark-up of S. 1814, the “Stop Sanctuary Cities Act,” sponsored by Senators Vitter (R-La.) and Flake (R-Ariz.). This mark-up has been postponed several times due to conservative concern with the underlying legislation and a substitute amendment. The bill would block certain funding streams for law enforcement in municipalities with community trust policies; some lawmakers have suggested that this approach is inappropriate. The substitute amendment would impose a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for illegal re-entry, which has faced opposition from those interested in criminal justice reform. Democrats are united in opposition, although some remain interested in creating an alternative policy that would lead to some form of cooperation between the Department of Homeland Security and local law enforcement.  Elsewhere, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Immigration and the National interest Subcommittee will hold a hearing on Thursday on the fiscal and security impact of the Administration’s recently announced refugee resettlement plans.

Appropriations – Congress has until September 30 to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government. After a procedural vote failed last week in the Senate to pass a spending bill until December 11 that would also defund Planned Parenthood, another vote has been scheduled for Monday evening without the controversial rider. In the House, Leadership has been clear that they will also move to a clean bill sometime this week. Precise details of this remain unknown, however. Both bills do contain a number of “anomalies,” extensions of expiring programs, including E-Verify, EB-5 Investor Visas, and others.

Health – The House Ways and Means Committee has scheduled a mark-up on Tuesday of budget reconciliation legislation repealing pieces of the Affordable Care Act. Repeals of both the medical device tax and so-called cadillac tax are included. It is likely the House Energy and Commerce Committee will follow shortly with related legislation that will be combined into one bill to send to the Senate. The Committee has held a number of hearings on the ACA, and will continue on Tuesday with an Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee hearing on state-based marketplaces. It is not clear if Senate Committees with jurisdiction over the Affordable Care Act plan to move their own versions of repeal legislation. Under the reconciliation process, the Senate can pass a bill with a simple majority, allowing Republican Leadership to circumvent procedural hurdles that have prevented their priorities from getting to the President’s desk.

Nutrition – While authorization for child nutrition programs expire September 30, these were not included in the continuing resolution that is expected to clear the House and Senate this week. Instead, lawmakers are continuing work to find a path forward on a bipartisan reauthorization effort this fall. However, the Senate Agriculture Committee postponed a planned mark-up of legislation indefinitely, and it is not clear how the House Education and Workforce Committee plans to proceed. Community eligibility and nutrition guidelines are both controversial in the effort.

Taxes – The Senate Finance Committee will convene a hearing on Thursday with the U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro on improper payments. The Earned Income Tax Credit is likely to be a part of this hearing, given many believe that the credit’s complexity lead to error.

Labor – The House Financial Services Committee will mark up a series of bills on Wednesday, including H.R. 1090, which would block the Department of Labor’s “conflict of interest” rule. Elsewhere, the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee will convene a hearing Wednesday on the proposed rule.

Consumer Financial Protections – On Tuesday, Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), will give his semi-annual report to Congress to the House Financial Services Committee. The Committee has also scheduled a mark-up of a number of bills related to the CFPB on Wednesday. Among these, H.R. 957, legislation that would subject the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Inspector General to Senate confirmation, and H.R. 1266 that would change the CFPB’s governing structure from a single Director to a bipartisan commission.

Puerto Rico – The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday on Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi will testify.

Education – While conferees have not yet been formally appointed to the ESEA conference committee, staff-level work continues to reconcile the Senate’s Every Child Achieves Act with the House’s Student Success Act. There are significant differences between the two bills; notably, neither has strong accountability language ensuring intervention if students are not meeting academic goals. Conferees are likely to be named at some point in October.

Republican Leadership Election – On Friday, Speaker John Boehner announced he would be resigning at the end of October. He outlined an ambitious agenda for the next four weeks including reaching a budget deal, reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, and passing a long-term transportation bill. Yet, all eyes remain on Leadership elections to replace him; these have not yet been scheduled, but could come as soon as this week. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is likely to replace the Speaker, although he is being challenged by Rep. Dan Webster (R-Fla.). The race for Majority Leader is also competitive with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) all vying for the position. A number of members are also running for Whip, including Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), and potentially Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas). The precise details are still taking shape, and it is possible that Rep. Peter Roskan (R-Ill.) could emerge as a candidate for any of these. He has gathered signatures for a conference meeting this week to discuss a plan for the Republican party moving forward.

Weekly Washington Outlook — May 4, 2015


What to Watch This Week:



The House is in recess, returning the week of May 11th.


On Monday evening, the Senate will vote to override the President’s veto of S.J. Res. 8, a bill that would block a proposed National Labor Relations Board rule on expediting workplace elections in certain circumstances. On Tuesday, the Senate will resume consideration of legislation that would give Congress the authority to review any nuclear agreement with Iran. The Senate also plans to vote this week on a conference report of a joint budget resolution.

White House:

On Monday, the President will travel to New York City to deliver remarks at an event at Lehman College launching the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a new non-profit organization. He will also tape an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, and attend DNC events.

On Tuesday, the President will host a Cinco de Mayo reception at the White House.

On Wednesday, the President will attend meetings at the White House.

On Thursday, the President will welcome the United States Air Force Academy football team to the White House to present them with the 2014 Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. In the afternoon, the President will travel to the Portland, Oregon area to attend a DNC event.

On Friday, the President will attend an event held at Nike headquarters to discuss how workers will benefit from progressive, high-standards trade agreements that would open up new markets and support high-quality jobs both for Oregon small businesses and large companies like Nike. The President will also make the case that strong bipartisan trade promotion legislation – introduced this month by Senators Ron Wyden and Orrin Hatch – is an important step to ensure our trade policy works for the middle class through strong enforcement provisions, transparency, and the requirement that our trade agreements include high-standards to bring greater opportunity to American businesses, level the playing field for American workers, protect the environment, and raise human rights and labor standards around the world. Afterward, the President will travel to Watertown, South Dakota to deliver the commencement address for the graduating class at Lake Area Technical Institute. Lake Area Technical Institute is one of the top community colleges in the nation, and is recognized for rigorously preparing its students with the skills they need to compete in the 21st Century economy. With a two-year graduation rate more than twice the national average, Lake Area Technical Institute focuses on providing its graduates smooth pathways to high skilled careers with private-sector businesses.

Also This Week:

Immigration – The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will mark-up several bills on Wednesday, including S. 750, “Arizona Borderlands Protection and Preservation Act.” This bill would allow Customs and Border Protection access to federal lands in Arizona for their patrols. It has been criticized by environmental groups, immigration advocates, and others.

Appropriations – The Senate Appropriations Committee continues to hold hearings this week. The Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White and the Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Tim Massad will both appear on Tuesday before the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee. Attorney General Loretta Lynch will make her first appearance in her new role on Thursday before the Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee. When the House returns from recess, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has indicated he plans to bring the Legislative Branch funding bill to the floor before the end of the work period.

Budget – The Senate is scheduled to vote this week on a conference report on a joint budget resolution for FY2016. The measure maintains discretionary domestic spending at sequester levels, but increases defense spending by $96 billion. It also includes reconciliation instructions, setting the stage for a fight over repealing the Affordable Care Act later this summer. The House passed the conference report last week.

Education – Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) wrote in his May memo that he still plans to bring H.R. 5, the “Student Success Act” to the floor in the coming weeks. Without any Democratic support, however, the legislation is rumored to still be short of votes needed for passage. Acknowledging this, Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) has recently signaled openness to a different legislative vehicle for passing legislation to rewrite ESEA. The Senate is likely to take up a bipartisan reauthorization bill in early June. The “Every Child Achieves Act,” which passed unanimously out of the HELP Committee earlier in April, still faces challenges from civil rights groups and others about what has been perceived as a weak accountability system.