Blog: Latino Ed Beat

NCLR Convention Examines Latino Education Issues

Latino education issues were one of the big topics at the National Council of La Raza’s annual convention. Among the topics addressed were ways to stem the high dropout rate among Latinos, parent and community involvement, and education reform.

An education town hall addressing “Hispanic Education in the 21st Century” looked at the federal role in education. A video of the town hall can be viewed online here.

Here are some takeaways from the town hall, and possible story leads to follow:

  • NCLR’s Secretary Juan Sanchez suggested that Latino leaders take control of education by running for school board or building charter schools. His assertion poses a lot of possible story leads. What do the school boards in your districts look like? Do they reflect the student demographics of the schools? Are Latinos represented on school boards? And what does that mean in terms of votes on issues important to Latinos? Look at charter schools in your area. What are their demographics? Do they reflect the populations of their neighborhoods? Some Houston area charter schools in African-American neighborhoods are predominantly Latino and have trouble attracting African-American students. It would be interesting to examine the underlying reasons for trends like that.
  •  Es el Momento, a joint multiyear initiative by Univision, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the NCLR and community organizations, is designed to foster a college-bound culture in the Latino community. Possible story leads: What do your local school districts and community organizations do to reach out to Latino parents? Are there programs that educate immigrant parents on the steps their children need to get into college? If those programs don’t exist, then ask Latino parents what they know about navigating the college admission maze (which is already confusing for savvy parents).
  • One panelist pointed to Pell Grant cuts as one of the most pressing education issues. About 40 percent of Latino students depend on Pell Grants to pay for college. Possible story lead: Follow some Latino high school seniors through the college application process for an in-depth narrative or a series of stories throughout the school year. What are their hopes, dreams and obstacles? What kind of financial aid is available for low-income Latinos? If they are first generation college-goers, do they get adequate counseling and information about applying to schools? What are issues specific to Latino students? What is universal for all seniors?