WASHINGTON, July 9 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — More than 40 percent of Latino students drop out of high school each year, in large part because of the education policies that do not hold high schools accountable for graduation rates. The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) – a founding member of the Campaign for High School Equity (CHSE), a leading coalition of civil rights organizations striving for stronger education policies – said “Enough is enough” today during a town hall meeting at its National Convention & Exposition. At the meeting, LULAC launched its national Parent Involvement Initiative to engage Hispanic parents in education reform.
“The inequalities that exist in the current U.S. education system are appalling at best,” said Rosa Rosales, president of LULAC. “In our communities, with the full support and involvement of parents, is where we will see change happen so that more of our young people graduate from high school prepared for college, work, and life. Working with CHSE, LULAC will engage its strong grassroots network to create a future for Hispanic students that is based in academic success.”
The Initiative will be piloted in 18 cities, including several that are home to “dropout factories” – schools where no more than 60 percent of entering freshmen make it to their senior year three years later. These include Los Angeles; Philadelphia; Chicago; Kansas City, Mo.; Dallas; Houston; and Milwaukee. Dropout factories make up only about 12 percent of all high schools, but they produce approximately half of America’s dropouts and two-thirds of all African American and Hispanic dropouts.
In each city, the Initiative will enlist a core team of parents and family members who are already active in their schools and districts and prepare them to take their efforts to the federal level, advocating for substantial reforms to education policy. In turn, this group of parents will empower others to join in a rallying cry to take charge of the situation and change the course of federal education policy for Hispanic students and all students of color.
At the town hall meeting, Rosales was joined by federal, state, and local policymakers, as well as education advocates, to discuss and identify community-based solutions to the challenges in education policy that leave many Latino youth without academic opportunities.
Panelists, including Dr. John Arnold, chair of the National LULAC Education Commission, and CHSE members Peter Zamora of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP’s Washington Bureau, addressed strategies for strengthening the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to better serve students of color. CHSE members called for federal policy reforms that: 1) make all students proficient and prepared for college and work; 2) hold high schools accountable for student success; and 3) redesign the American high school.
Other panelists at the town hall meeting included Holly Kuzmich, deputy
chief of staff for policy, U.S. Department of Education; Dr. Joel Gomez, associate professor of educational leadership, The George Washington University; Roberto Rodriguez, senior education advisor, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; and Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez, a parent and candidate for the Arlington County School Board. The group addressed necessary policy changes that will ensure equitable learning conditions, as well as federal program initiatives that will encourage parental and community involvement in U.S. high schools and strategies for redesigning high schools so that all students graduate prepared for college, work, and life.
The Campaign for High School Equity is a diverse coalition of national civil rights organizations representing communities of color that believe high schools should have the capacity and motivation to prepare every student for graduation, college, work, and life.In addition to LULAC, MALDEF, and NAACP, members of the Campaign include the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, the National Council of La Raza, the National Indian Education Association, the National Urban League, The Alliance for Excellent Education, and the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center.