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.
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.”
By Catalina Kaiyoorawongs, National Institute for Latino School Leaders Fellow, NCLR
The White House announcement released during the 2011 Latino Heritage Month states, “The Latino community’s ability to thrive is vital to the future of our nation and is critical to our out-educating, out-innovating, and out-building the rest of the world.”
Considering that one in every four newborns in the United States is Latino, innovation and progress can only happen if Latinos themselves progress. In Florida, specifically, Latino students make up 24 percent of the total K–12 student population in Florida.
Yet, only 6.2 percent of full-time college students (both undergraduate and graduate students) in October 2010 were Latino. Only 14 percent of the Latino population 25 and older had obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2010.
Images of nurtured seedlings growing into huge, strong trees or of a house with a strong foundation where the furnishings include love, respect, confidence, and communication might not represent parent engagement in education at first glance. But for a group of parents at our Affiliate Southwest Key in Austin, Texas, this is what came to mind. The group was part of the Padres Comprometidos parent engagement program meeting late last month. We asked them to think of images depicting what it means to be involved in their children’s education, and all of the representations depicted a cradle-to-career path that parents aspire for their children.