The Tejano Center is Training the Next Generation of STEM Leaders

 Guest blog post by Giovanni Escobedo, Youth Advisory Committee Member, NCLR

Our children grow up in a society that demands expertise in everything. Deciding to sit back and rely solely on learning from textbooks is not enough for their overall development. We live in the age of specialization, and children cannot afford to miss out on this window of opportunity and be left behind. The Tejano Center’s Raul Yzaguirre Schools for Success in Brownsville, Texas is working hard to address that problem by providing educational offerings in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields to the children of South Texas with the help NCLR’s CHISPA initiative.

At the Tejano Center, kids meet twice a week to work on science lessons and to learn what it takes to become scientists. In groups of about six students from various grade levels, they collaborate to perform experiments while simultaneously strengthening their interpersonal and leadership skills. Their conversations across the table are a sign that they understand and enjoy the lesson—and that they have mastered the complex scientific concepts to the point where they can explain them to each other in a way that is easy to understand.

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Kids Are at the Heart of the Padres Comprometidos con CHISPA Training

By Eddi Ortiz, Parent and Family Engagement Coordinator, Para Los Niños Charter Schools, NCLR Affiliate

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After traveling to San Antonio for the Padres Comprometidos (PC) con CHISPA training, I walked into the venue and discovered a room full of educators much like myself. Most of us were meeting each other for the first time, but all of us were at the training for the same purpose: to learn from each other and discuss how to best engage parents and families in STEM through the PC con CHISPA program. Now in our third year, PC con CHISPA introduces Latino parents around the country to the STEM concepts their children are learning at school. As a parent facilitator at the training, I had an opportunity to network, share ideas, and work in groups to improve my skills.

I discovered at the training that other parent facilitators face similar challenges in engaging parents. Para Los Niños Charter Schools, located in Los Angeles, works with our city’s most at-risk children, and provides a comprehensive approach to education. We not only focus on academic achievement, but also work to meet each student’s emotional, social, and psychological needs. The PC con CHISPA training allowed me to share best practices and ideas that are working for us at my school.

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NCLR Education Programs Celebrate First-Ever Summer Institutes

photo 1NCLR has long been at the forefront of education reform. Our policy team has advocated for English learners (ELs) and helped pass the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the federal education law that updates the landmark Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, most recently known as “No Child Left Behind.”

Our policy efforts are highly visible. Our programmatic work, which supports and serves hundreds of youth and educators throughout the nation, has also grown exponentially in the past decade. This past week was a highlight for the NCLR Education team, which hosted the first combined institute in Fort Worth, Texas, to spotlight four NCLR Education programs: the National Institute for Latino School Leaders (NILSL), Padres Comprometidos, Children Investigating Science with Parents and Afterschool (CHISPA) and the annual Leadership Institute for Latino Literacy (LILL).

“Individually, our programs have grown tremendously, providing great resources and training to hundreds of educators throughout the country,” said Dr. Margaret “Peggy” McLeod, Deputy Vice President of Education and Workforce Development at NCLR. “The decision to host this convening, however, was born out of a desire to create a collaborative platform where educators, parents, advocates and Affiliates could come together, exchange ideas, and glean from the individual approaches they are taking to improve education outcomes for Latino students.”

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Parent Engagement Is Essential for Latino Youth to Beat Their College Odds

By Catalina Kaiyoorawongs, National Institute for Latino School Leaders Fellow, NCLR

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The White House announcement released during the 2011 Latino Heritage Month states, “The Latino community’s ability to thrive is vital to the future of our nation and is critical to our out-educating, out-innovating, and out-building the rest of the world.”

Considering that one in every four newborns in the United States is Latino, innovation and progress can only happen if Latinos themselves progress. In Florida, specifically, Latino students make up 24 percent of the total K–12 student population in Florida.

Yet, only 6.2 percent of full-time college students (both undergraduate and graduate students) in October 2010 were Latino. Only 14 percent of the Latino population 25 and older had obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2010.

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Parents Share Dreams for Their Children

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Images of nurtured seedlings growing into huge, strong trees or of a house with a strong foundation where the furnishings include love, respect, confidence, and communication might not represent parent engagement in education at first glance. But for a group of parents at our Affiliate Southwest Key in Austin, Texas, this is what came to mind. The group was part of the Padres Comprometidos parent engagement program meeting late last month. We asked them to think of images depicting what it means to be involved in their children’s education, and all of the representations depicted a cradle-to-career path that parents aspire for their children.

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Phoenix Plays Host to Two NCLR Education Institutes

In Phoenix last week, our education programs team hosted two institutes dedicated to improving education outcomes for youth. The Leadership Institute for Latino Literacy (LILL) and Padres Comprometidos both welcomed participants from across the country for three days of best practices, information sharing, and networking. 

During LILL, participants received hands-on training and leadership development to help them improve literacy instruction through the inclusion of technology at their schools.

Padres Comprometidos, our parent engagement program, builds the capacity of Latino parents of students from pre-school through high school. This happens as the parents learn their role in preparing their children for academic success in school and ultimately for college and careers.

Participants at this year’s institutes also made use of social media to document their experiences. Below are some of the social media highlights of the two events. Be sure to visit nclr.org for more information on each of these terrific programs.

So excited to be part of the @nclr #padrescomprometidos training #NCLRpc #arizona #statefarm

A photo posted by YouCREATEtheChange (@neweconomicsforwomen) on

Thanks to all the LILL and Padres Comprometidos participants for making this year’s events such a great success!

5 Tips to Engage Latino Families and Students

By Samantha McGinnis, First Book

(This was originally posted to the First Book blog.)

Welcome to First Book’s celebrity blog series. Each month we will be connecting with influential voices who share a belief in the power of literacy, and who have worked with First Book to curate a unique collection that inspires a love of reading and learning. All recommended books are available at deeply discounted prices on the First Book Marketplace to educators and programs serving children in need.

This month we hear from Peggy McLeod, Ed. D. the Deputy Vice President of Education and Workforce Development at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) on engaging Latino families and children in reading and learning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAny student who has parents that understand the journey from preschool to college is better equipped to navigate the road to long-term student success. While parent engagement is critical to increasing educational attainment for all children, engaging Latino parents in their children’s schooling has typically been challenging – often for linguistic and cultural reasons.

The National Council of La Raza’s (NCLR) parent engagement program is designed to eliminate these challenges and create strong connections between schools, parents, and their children. A bilingual curriculum designed to be administered by school staff, the Padres Comprometidos program empowers Latino parents who haven’t typically been connected to their children’s school. Many of the parents the program reaches are low-income, Spanish-speaking, first and second generation immigrants. Through Padres Comprometidos, these parents gain a deeper understanding of what the journey to academic success will be like, and how they can play a role in preparing their children for higher education. Prior to participating in the program, not all parents expected their children to attend college. After the program, 100 percent of parents indicated that they expected their children to attend college.

Much of Padres Comprometidos success rests on the program’s ability to address language and culture as assets, rather than as obstacles to be overcome. This asset building strategy extends to NCLR’s partnership with First Book. Together, we’re working to ensure Latino children of all ages have access to books that are culturally and linguistically relevant, books they need to become enthusiastic readers inside and outside of the classroom. Click here to access the three parent engagement curricula developed by NCLR—tailored to parents of preschool, elementary and secondary school students.

Below you will find a few tips and titles that can help you engage families and get children – and their parents and caregivers – reading and learning.

la_llorona_weeping1. Find ways to connect stories that parents know about to help them engage in reading and conversation with their children. This Mexican folktale can open that door. La Llorona

 

 

 

websters_yellow_cover_spanish_english2. Keep an English/Spanish dictionary handy to use when you have a parent visiting or to give away to a parent or caregiver who needs it. It will show them that you’re making an effort to engage in their language of comfort. Webster’s Everyday Spanish-English Dictionary

 

 

storytellers_candle_delacre3. Learn about the children you serve and their heritage, and identify books that will affirm them. This Pura Belpré award winner is actually about Pura Belpré, the first Latina (Puerto Rican) to head a public library system. La Velita de los Cuentos

 

 

grandma-and-me4. Share books that include some of the everyday experiences of the children and neighborhoods you serve, like this story highlighting the value of community and family. Grandma and Me at the Flea

 

 

my_colors_my_world5. Bilingual books provide family members and caregivers the opportunity to read the same books their children are reading, but in their language of comfort. Families will love reading about all the colors of the rainbow in English and Spanish. My Colors, My World

 

 

Peggy McLeod, Ed. D. is Deputy Vice President of Education and Workforce Development at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR).

 

Got Parents?

By Crystal J. Gallegos, Assistant Principal, Chavez/Huerta K-12 Preparatory Academy, Pueblo, CO

(This was first posted to the National Institute for Latino School Leaders blog.)

NILSL_parentspost_CrystalGallegosSchools across the country are working diligently to get parents more involved in their students’ education. As educators look for innovative ways to engage parents in their schools they are also seeking assistance from the outside community.

There are numerous reasons parents are not engaging in the educational process. These include, but are not limited to: transportation, work, money, intimidation, a feeling of the unknown, insecurities, language, and socio-economic status. Each of these factors must be taken into account when encouraging parents to come and participate at school.

There are numerous outside programs that can be replicated with success at a school, such as: Padres Comprometidos (an NCLR program), Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students), Parent Teacher Organizations (PTO), Family Nights, Classroom Parents, Parent Volunteer Groups, and Conversation Groups between parents and administration. The partnership between schools and families are the driving force of student success.  Continue reading

NCLR Celebrates American Education Week

By Peggy McLeod, Deputy Vice President, Education and Workforce Development, NCLR

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAmerican 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.  Continue reading

More Latinos in STEM Will Lead to Increased Opportunities

We’re dedicated to increasing the number of Latino students concentrating in STEM fields. Through the Padres Comprometidos Math at Home:  STEM Curriculum for Parent Engagement, we aim to promote parent education and engagement around the science, technology, engineering, and math standards for student success.

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Jose Hernandez. Photo: Wikipedia

Josè Hernández certainly understands the benefits STEM fields hold for our community. As an engineer, scientist and a former astronaut, Hernandez has been an outspoken advocate for more investment in STEM as well as for ways we can encourage and inspire more Latino students to choose the field as a career choice.

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