Operation Exodus Joins LEAD

Operation Exodus Joins LEAD

Operation Exodus Joins LEAD

Recently, Hispanic Federation, with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, announced the launch of a two-year education advocacy campaign to help close the achievement gap for Latinos in New York State. The initiative will utilize coalition building, advocacy, and public education as its approach to rolling out this full-scale advocacy movement. Twenty-three organizations across the state, both Hispanic Federation member and non-member agencies will form the core of the new program called the Latino Education Advocacy Directors (LEAD) Coalition.

Conversations regarding advocacy for Latino students, and the creation of suggested policy changes that will be presented to leaders in New York State will be taking place from now until August 2018.  We felt it was extremely important that small CBO’s like Operation Exodus contribute to those discussions, especially those that relate to after-school education for underserved students. After all, we are on the front lines working at a grass roots level, in touch with both Latino students and their parents. 

“We have made some incredible progress in the classroom in recent years,” said Hispanic Federation President José Calderón. “but we have a great deal of work to do to close the gap between Latino students and their peers.”

 

 

We are proud to be participating in the LEAD Coalition. As an organization that works on the front lines serving Latino families, we believe it’s important that the voices of our students and parents be heard

The last decade has been one of improvement for Latinos in classrooms across the United States. The Latino drop-out rate has declined from 32 percent in 2004 to 12 percent in 2013. And in 2014, 35 percent of Latinos between 18 and 24 were enrolled in college compared to just 22 percent in 1993. Despite these gains, there are significant achievement gaps between Latinos and other ethnic groups.

 

“The LEAD Coalition will leverage the vast knowledge of our community-based organizations to create a statewide advocacy campaign that will address K-16 education issues with Latinos and other underrepresented groups,” says Calderon.

 

The coalition will meet monthly, identifying and advocating for policies that will address Latino student standards and achievement, as well as promote high quality educational standards and practices aimed at improving the long-term success of Latino students. Additionally, the coalition is charged with narrowing the knowledge gap within the Latino community, ensuring that Hispanic families and students clearly understand how vital a high quality education is, from early childhood through high school and college. For its part, Hispanic Federation will be developing a policy brief to support advocacy efforts.

To help facilitate these efforts, the Hispanic Federation will also launch a multi-media public education campaign that will utilize print, radio, television, online, and social media efforts, informing Latino families about education policies and practices across the state, with the goal of reaching over two million people by the end of this initiative.

One of the first acts of the LEAD Coalition was to craft a letter addressing the need for the State Legislature to extend New York City Mayoral control of the city’s public school system. Looking to head off a crisis, many believe that the public school system will be in danger of eroding into chaos without this extension. 

It is expected that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo intends to call a special session of the State Legislature as early as tomorrow, Wednesday June 28th to introduce a bill that would extend mayoral control of the city’s educational system for one year.

Lawmakers left Albany last week with the issue of mayoral control unresolved, as Republicans and Democrats were unable to reach a deal. Mr. Cuomo, a moderate Democrat with a record of working with Republicans, was not able to broker an agreement by the scheduled end of the session on Wednesday.

 

Mr. Flanagan and his Republican colleagues did pass several bills this month to extend mayoral control, but each bill included an increase in charter schools around the state, something that doomed them in the Democrat-dominated Assembly.

 

Many feel that the inclusion of a provision calling for more charter schools is a political bargaining chip that does not belong in the extension bill. The addition of more charter schools would not be addressed in the bill sent by the governor, this week, according to one administration official.

“The governor,” the official said, “wants to keep it clean.”

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Here is the letter crafted and signed by the Hispanic Federation’s LEAD Coalition regarding the extension of mayoral control:

Dear Governor Cuomo and Majority Leader Flanagan,

The undersigned organizations write to urge you to pass a multi-year extension of mayoral control. We understand and uphold the importance of a quality public education for our diverse neighborhoods. Our passionate belief is that all children, regardless of zip code, deserve safe and caring learning environments, with academic supports that accelerate their success. For this to happen, there must be accountability.

Over the years, we have seen the positive impact and education gains that have resulted due to mayoral oversight of the New York City school system. Mayoral control has ushered in important educational progress for our children. This legacy of improvement continues under Mayor Bill de Blasio. His Equity and Excellence for All agenda, including Community Schools, serves the needs of the whole child by providing them with support services from partnering grassroots agencies. The mayor’s Pre-K for All program increased access to early childhood education to nearly 70,000 children.

These and other initiatives have resulted in the highest high school graduation rates in the City’s history, with significant increases among Hispanic and Black students. Although we’ve made great strides, there is clearly much more to do to ensure that all of our kids receive a high-quality education. Without Mayoral control, our schools face instability and uncertainty, returning to practices that neglect learning goals while shifting focus to raising funds to sustain their institutions.

We believe that the Mayor must lead and be held accountable for sustaining and accelerating the progress we’ve made in recent years. In addition, there should be every expectation that Mayor de Blasio will be up to the task given his focus and past success on improving educational outcomes for our children. As such, we implore you to pass a multi-year extension of mayoral control of New York City schools. Our students, our families, our communities and our city deserve nothing less.

Sincerely,

 
 
Portions of this article were originally published in print on June 27, 2017, on Page A18 of the New York edition with the headline: Cuomo Will Call a Special Session Over Mayoral Control of Schools.

 

 

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