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Out with the Old and In with the New!

Now that I have started a small ripple within the Latino community to discuss Latino education and outcomes, let me try and fill in some of the blanks that weren’t covered in recent Latino newspaper publications.

While some Latino and non-Latino opinion-makers and advocates are talking about how to tweak or supplement our education system, let me ask you to forget about public education as you know it and start from scratch.

Why? If you keep doing the same thing over again you get the same results: Academic Emergency, Academic Watch… That is why many Toledo Public Schools that our Latino students attend are under performing.

The Toledo Public Schools education model or way of teaching our students is about 200 years old. Are you kidding me! Were you aware of this? The outdated ways of educating our students is pretty common knowledge in Toledo and should be the first big red flag in asking ourselves, is this what our students deserve?

The answer should be, “Hell No!” So what should Latino parents and their communities do?

Many Latino communities around the country are coming together and are being trained about how their tax dollars get to their schools and how is it being used.  I guarantee you that once our parents and advocates start getting this training including yearly school improvement plans, and Title-I funds for low income families, you will begin to finally see an increase in graduation outcomes for Latino students from K-12.

You will also see more parents and advocates demanding for new, innovative, and dynamic programs for teaching and learning in the classrooms. This is not to say that all teachers, administrators, and board members don’t care about your son or daughter, but just like parents we must all be held accountable to providing our kids the best education there is to offer them.

For example, let’s take Westfield Elementary School. According to the Ohio Department of Education, the school year report card shows that school to be on Academic Watch for 2008-2009. Unfortunately, there are several other elementary, middle and high schools that our Latino students attend that are at the same level or worse, year after year after year...

But my focus is on what can we, the Latino community, do collectively now to take one or two of these failing schools and apply new, innovative, creative, and dynamic strategies and practices to turn these schools around?

I’ll make one easy suggestion, visit schools that are doing “Excellent with Distinction.” There are also several other proven policy and school reform action plans that can take place now and will begin to turn around our failing schools.

Most of these changes aren’t necessarily about more money but about taking our seat at the table and demanding that existing funds be spent towards exciting new teaching and learning models that will prepare our Latino youth to be competitive and ready for the 21st century.

We need to step away from both looking inside a low performing school system and outside our insulated community and learn how other cities and schools across the United States are creating 21st century teaching and learning campuses for our Latino students. Otherwise, maybe a Latino Academy is in store for those who want to be progressive in educating our students.

This is the real call for action.

Ramón Pérez 
Toledo, Ohio       





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