By Peggy McLeod, Deputy Vice President, Education and Workforce Development, NCLR
American Education Week puts a spotlight on the role of educators and families—two groups who are essential in helping our nation’s children gain vital skills for future success. The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Education Team thought this would be a great time to give you an overview of our work in this field.
I started as NCLR’s Deputy Vice President of Education and Workforce Development in August 2013, and I have the privilege of working with a fantastic team. While the scope of our work is broad, it is focused completely on improving the education of Latinos from preschool to graduate school and beyond.
We don’t do this work alone. It is critical to hear from leaders in education who have extensive experience with the needs of Hispanic students, so one of our areas of focus is leadership development for Latino school leaders. We currently have a group of K-12 leaders who are developing skills to advocate for policies that support the education of Latino students at the national level. A new group of early childhood education leaders will soon be working with advocates at the state level. And we are excited to report that in January 2014, 15 school boards will join us for a two-year project to develop the skills needed for board members to be effective leaders of charter schools.
Our Hispanic youth development programs—which help young people achieve academically, prepare for higher education and good careers, and learn to become advocates for themselves and their communities—will soon be aligned and placed under NCLR’s Líderes umbrella. Thus, we have Líderes CASA, our middle school service-learning program; Líderes Escalera, our curriculum for high school students; and our new Líderes Avanzando program that serves students ages 18 to 26. We are already busy planning for our culminating activity, the Líderes Summit, a popular and energetic conference that will bring together hundreds of young people during the 2014 NCLR Annual Conference, held July 19–22 in Los Angeles.
Young people are not the only ones learning! We are so proud of the hundreds of parents who have graduated from Padres Comprometidos, our parent engagement program that helps parents work with schools and become strong advocates for their children’s education. This curriculum continues to be widely used by community organizations across the country that are part of the NCLR Affiliate Network, and we plan to expand the program in the near future.
Next summer, we will convene schools for our annual Leadership Institute for Latino Literacy, bringing together three-person teams for professional development focused on literacy in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.
That is a big-picture look at the work NCLR is doing in education. As part of American Education Week, we visited the Latin American Montessori Bilingual (LAMB) Public Charter School in Washington, DC. LAMB, a long-time and active NCLR Affiliate, welcomed us to one of their two campuses for a visit and a chat about their relationship with NCLR. Check out the video after the jump to hear directly from some of the terrific people we work with at LAMB who are dedicated to helping Latino children get a good start in school and continue on to greater academic challenges.