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Major stimulus needed for Latino Education Reform
Commentary by Ramón Pérez,
Special to La Prensa
[email protected]

January 31, 2009, Sophia Quintero Arts and Cultural Center: It was a group of the “usual suspects,” with the exception of a few faces that I hadn’t seen before, that attended a round table discussion geared at addressing and assessing the educational state of Toledo Latino students.

It’s no secret, to those who know me, or those who have read articles previously submitted by me to La Prensa, that I have a very hard time swallowing the bitter pill of complacency served so often at these meetings.

Although, I do not lambaste anyone’s motives for being present at so many meetings formed with good intentions, I do question or wonder how any of us can continue to attend these meetings, when they all seem to have the same outcome - words, solo palabras.

There were many ideas and suggestions put out there, but the following was missing: No plans of actions on how to optimally implement such ideas - think grassroots efforts or follow up meetings.

What? No follow-up meeting? I am pretty sure, that from where I am standing, which cannot be that much different from where you are standing, that the educational state is quickly becoming an emergency state. No follow-up meeting?

Furthermore, most of the concerns brought forth were from professional and para-professional representatives from the Toledo area and Bowling Green State University. Nothing wrong with these folks but they are not equipped to advance the Latino community into the 21st century.

Why? Because they do not use or foresee—including grassroots efforts—as a serious component of their “wish list” programs to help Latino students. The concerns ranged from pre-school education, closing the achievement gap among Latino students, parental engagement, to getting students to graduate from college.

Does this rhetoric or spiel sound familiar to you? These are all “old school” concerns with old school solutions. Add to this the very real missing link, whether intentional or overlooked, that the folks, who were the target and/or the beneficiaries of this discussion—parents and youth—were absent from the discussion.

It has been shown over and over again that when parents are engaged in their kid’s education the majority of these kids will graduate from high school, college, or from a skilled-trade program. Hiring a community organizer to mobilize parents to take charge of their children’s education is the stimulus needed to improve the quality of life for Latino families. 

 The Ohio Commission on Latino Affairs organized this gathering and will be sending the results and recommendations to those in attendance. I would strongly encourage you to visit the OLA web-site and ask that you receive a copy of the proceedings of the meeting. Otherwise, you can email me ([email protected]) and I would be glad to send you a copy as quickly as they are made available.





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