On the Betsy DeVos Nomination: We Oppose

Education Secretary Nominee Betsy DeVos. Photo: betsydevos.com

Yesterday NCLR sent a letter to Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray opposing the nomination of Betsy DeVos for U.S. Secretary of Education.

One in four children in U.S. schools are Latino, and that number will only rise. It is critical that their needs are addressed by the U.S. Department of Education, but for this to occur, the nominee for secretary of education must be committed to upholding civil rights. However, during her hearing, DeVos was only asked one question about civil rights, related to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and expressed unfamiliarity with the law. Due to the limited questioning, it is uncertain that she would protect the civil rights of minority children.

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Empowering Educators to Support Latino Youth

 A Review of the 2016 Escalera Training

By Cindy Zavala, Education Programs Associate, NCLR

The 2016 Escalera training at NCLR’s Headquarters in Washington, DC.

Last month, the Escalera program brought 31 educators to NCLR’s Washington, D.C. headquarters for a three-day training on how to best prepare students for college and beyond. The Escalera educators are part of the NCLR Affiliate Network, which includes schools and community-based organizations that are grantees of the Escalera, Early Escalera, and Escalera STEM programs. The goal of the training was to provide Escalera teachers with better resources to implement the Escalera curricula in their schools and communities.

2At the Escalera training, Affiliates discussed their current work, explored the college-going process, and provided feedback on how to improve the program. For Early Escalera instructors, this was their first opportunity to meet and discuss the new curriculum. It was also a great opportunity for them to meet with other educators, such as the Escalera STEM team, who have been implementing their program for over two years.

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Janet Murguía Testimony at ESSA Hearing: Full Remarks

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Today our President and CEO, Janet Murguía, testified before the before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions’ hearing, “ESSA Implementation: Perspectives from Education Stakeholders” to provide the civil rights perspective. Below are the remarks as prepared for delivery:

“NCLR is the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, an American institution recognized in the book Forces for Good as one of the leading nonprofits in the nation. We represent over 250 Affiliates—local, community-based organizations in 41 states and the District of Columbia—that provide education, health, housing, workforce development, and other services to millions of Americans and immigrants annually. Many of these Affiliates operate as charter schools, provide early education, or offer after-school programming or family literacy services. Their experiences inform NCLR’s federal agenda.

“NCLR was proud to support the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act as a much needed update to our federal education law. Notably, for the first time, English language proficiency will be included in states’ accountability systems. However, passage was just the first step. It is critical that ESSA be implemented in a manner consistent with the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act to ensure its promise for all students.

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Weekly Washington Outlook — May 16, 2016

Washingyon DC

Photo: Pedro Szekely

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

On Monday, the House will vote on legislation under suspension of the rules, including H.R. 3832 – Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Prevention Act of 2016, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Jim Renacci / Ways and Means Committee). 

On Tuesday and the balance of the week, the House will vote on H.R. 897 – Zika Vector Control Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Bob Gibbs / Agriculture Committee) under suspension of the rules. The House will also consider the following:

  • Democrat Motion to Instruct Conferees on 524Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016
  • R. 4909 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry / Armed Services Committee)
  • R. 4974Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Charlie Dent / Appropriations Committee)
  • R. ____ – Zika Response Appropriations Act, 2016 (Subject to a Rule)

Senate:

The Senate will vote on Monday evening on a judicial nomination. On Tuesday, the Senate resume consideration of a joint Transportation-Housing and Urban Development and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs (THUD/Milcon-VA) spending bill. The Chamber is scheduled to vote on three Zika-related funding proposals.

White House:

On Monday, the president will host a Medal of Valor ceremony at the White House. The Medal of Valor is awarded to public safety officers who have exhibited exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect others from harm.

On Tuesday, President Obama will attend meetings at the White House.

On Wednesday, the president will participate in a DNC roundtable.

On Thursday, President Obama will award National Medals of Science and National Medals of Technology and Innovation to 17 scientists, engineers, mathematicians and innovators. The Medal of Science recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science, engineering and mathematics. The National Medal of Technology and Innovation recognizes those who have made lasting contributions to America’s competitiveness and quality of life and helped strengthen the Nation’s technological workforce.

On Friday, the president will attend meetings at the White House.

On Saturday, President Obama will depart Washington en route Hanoi, Vietnam. This trip will highlight the President’s ongoing commitment to the U.S. Rebalance to Asia and the Pacific, designed to increase U.S. diplomatic, economic, and security engagement with the countries and peoples of the region.

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ESSA Implications for Latinos and English Learners

By Dr. Christopher R. McBride, Mariposa Academy of Language and Learning
(This is cross-posted from the National Institute for Latino School Leaders Blog.)

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Latino students represent one of four students in classrooms across the United States and are projected to represent about one in three students by 2030. There are nearly five million English learner (EL) students and 80 percent of them are Spanish speakers. Furthermore, in 2013 only about 61 percent of EL students graduated high school compared to an average of about 75 percent of Hispanic students and over 86 percent of White students. Clearly our Latino and EL populations are growing and we, as a nation, are not meeting their educational needs. If we do not do a better job educating these students to prepare them to succeed in college and life afterward, we will all suffer.

Aware of the facts around Latino and EL students, the question weighing on the minds of many educational leaders is, “How will the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) impact our ability to close the achievement gap for Latinos and English learners?” The answer to this question is that it depends on the specific implementation in your state. ESSA has provided for increased funding for ELs by increasing Title III authorization levels. ESSA also leaves greater discretion to states to develop suitable accountability systems for when they are failing groups of students and has moved accountability for ELs from Title III to Title I. Therefore, it is critical to the success of Latinos and ELs students that states adopt provisions to better track and improve the educational performance of ELs.

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