The Hispanic Federation, with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has launched 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 draft policy recommendations to create a full-scale movement to address concerns about the future of public education. 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.
Operation Exodus leadership felt it was extremely important that small CBO’s like ours contribute to the discussions, especially those that relate to after-school opportunities for underserved students. After all, we are on the front lines working at a grass-roots level and in touch with the needs of a large population of immigrant students and their parents. We are taking part in conversations regarding advocacy and the formulation of solid goals and objectives that will result in recommended policy changes to be presented to leaders in New York State after LEAD concludes its work in August of 2018.
“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, especially in Washington Heights, our home base.
The coalition meets monthly, identifying and crafting objectives and policy suggestions 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 channels to inform 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 draft a letter addressing the need for the State Legislature to extend New York City Mayoral control of the city’s public school system. That extension was granted on June 29th.
Next on the agenda? Policy suggestions regarding increased parent involvement, more streamlined processes for applying for after-school funding, and important changes regarding testing for English Language Learners (ELL’s). There is a lot of work to be done, and we appreciate Hispanic Federation LEAD coalition efforts to keep things moving in the right direction.