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La Liga de Las Americas

Soluciones provides strategies and solutions


By Lucy Brummett

Special to La Prensa


Columbus: On January 28th, participants from across Ohio sojourned to Ohio State University to partake in “Soluciones,” a roundtable discussion on education.  Attendees included administrators, experts in education, Latino community leaders, and public policy makers. 


The multi-theme was closing the Latino achievement gap by recognizing the many challenges schools are currently facing and what solutions are working to close that gap.

     “Soluciones” participants included (L-R): Lucy Brummett, Fremont City Schools; Dr. Silvia Jiménez-Hyre, Chair-Ohio Commission of Hispanic/Latino Affairs (OCHLA); Maggie McClendon, Coordinator at Youngstown State University; & Ezra C. Escudero, Executive Director of OCHLA.


The keynote speaker was Dr. María Fránquiz from the University of Texas in San Antonio, Bicultural/Bilingual Studies Division.  She has been working in rural and urban areas in Texas for numerous years.  Dr. Fránquiz detailed Welcome Centers, which had been established to assist new students moving to the United States.  In these centers, children learn survival English through visual presentation prior to being placed in formal ESL (English as a Second Language) classes. 


Sister Mary Jo, of En Camino in Fostoria, discussed pilot programs such as Escuela Familia—a program which involves the entire family, with tutoring and enrichment participation, with an emphasis on computer-based learning. 


It was learned that in the Toledo school district there are career-based programs that have helped the students become involved in something that interests them.  Some of the programs offered are in Allied Health, Construction, Horticulture, Agriculture, and Aviation. 


Toledo participants included: José Luna , David Ibarra, Linda Alvarado, Sonia Troche, Emilio Ramírez,  and Robert Torres.


Torres, who was recently elected to the Toledo Board of Education, stated that the use of dichos by Dr. Fránquiz was very effective and illustrated Latino cultures and needs.


According to Torres, “Dr. Fránquiz’s commentary that Latino children are ‘Ni de aqui, ni de alla’ is most appropriate to the experience of Latino children in many Ohio school communities.  


“That basic understanding and the need to infuse one's ethnicity, family culture, language, and value system as a bridge to educational success was strongly supported by those in attendance. OCHLA Director Ezra Escudero is to be commended for elevating the importance of community discourse in education. 

Robert Torres

1. .

“I am certain that our Latino community and its children will benefit from the collaboration which will be realized among colleagues in Toledo, Fremont, Fostoria, and Defiance.  Even so, an honest discussion to close the Latino academic achievement gap in Ohio can not happen without the commitment of elected officials to address the funding crisis of our schools. 


“Let us continue the dialogue that was started January 28, 2006 in our families, neighborhoods, and institutions.”  


For schools in the Cleveland area, children in kindergarten through fourth grade are involved in dual language instruction.


Funding seemed to be an obstacle in putting new programs into place within some school districts.  A vital suggestion to such a problem was having Latinos in leadership roles within their community that could partner with local agencies and organizations.  Also personal connections with the students played an integral role.


Those who attended the roundtable discussion were able to hear first hand experiences from current Ohio State University CAMP (College Assistance Migrant Program) students.  Silvia V. Mata, a third year CAMP student, spoke of Dr. José Villa, director of the CAMP program, and his belief in her attending college.  As a migrant child, at the age of five, she was given the difficult task of translating for her parents.  She challenged everyone at the conference to do something about Latino youth. 


When Dr. Villa invited students to learn more about the CAMP program, he was expecting thirty prospective students, but Mata was the only one who showed up.  Her emotional testimony on her thoughts on education, along with all of her struggles, served as a wake up call.


With the continued support of these collaborations we can implement the necessary tools our school districts need to ensure that our Latino children get the education they deserve.


Approximately 80 individuals attended this worthwhile event, sponsored by the Ohio Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs, Ohio State University, Ohio Department of Education, and the Ohio Council of Urban Leagues.


Editor’s Note: Rico de La Prensa contributed to this report.











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