CASA at Monseñor Oscar Romero Charter School

 By Jennifer Archer, CASA Instructor, Monseñor Oscar Romero Charter School

The Monseñor Oscar Romero Charter School (MORCS) family kicked off our work with CASA with a trip to the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition (GWHFC). Students in the Youth Advisory Board were discussing the lack of services for homeless people in Los Angeles, and wanted to see what they could do to help.


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Mi CASA Es Su CASA: Cultivating Agents of Change to Serve the Latino Community

By Feliza I. Ortiz-Licon, Ed.D., Senior Director, Education Leadership Development

Earlier this month, the country mourned the loss of “The Greatest,” boxer Muhammad Ali. News outlets and social media platforms were inundated with some of Ali’s most memorable quotes, including “the service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” It is this spirit of service and giving back to the community that drives many of the middle school students participating in NCLR’s youth leadership program, CASA-Cultura, Aprendizaje, Servicio, Acción (Culture, Learning, Service, Action). The goal of this service-learning program is to equip students with the necessary skills to identify genuine needs in the Latino community and address them through a two-pronged approach of academic learning and service actions.

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Five Latino Disparities in Education Revealed in New Civil Rights Data

By Viviann Anguiano, Intern, Education Policy Project

Recently, two high school valedictorians in Texas revealed their undocumented status. Yale-bound Larissa Martinez and Mayte Lara Ibarra, holding a 4.5 GPA, declared undocumented status. Mayte and Larissa are true exemplars of academic success and beating the odds. These challenges are apparent in the newly released Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) by the U.S. Department of Education, revealing the continued inequities faced by Latino students, English learners, students of color, and students with disabilities. Here are five racial disparities in American public schools that beg our attention.

  1. Latino, along with American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and multiracial high school students, are 2.66 times more likely to be held back in high school compared to their White counterparts.In the same vein, Black students are 3.75 times more likely to be retained compared to White students.
  2. Latino and Black students are underrepresented in AP courses. These students account for 38% of students in schools that offer Advanced Placement courses, but only 29% of such students enrolled in at least one AP course. English learners, moreover, represent 5% of students in schools that offer AP courses, but only 2% of students enrolled in one AP course.
  3. Black and Latino students in schools that offer gifted and talented education (GATE) programs are 1.76 times less likely to have access to GATE programs than their White counterparts. The difference is even larger among English learners in GATE schools, who are 4.3 times less likely to have access to GATE programs when compared to White students in schools offering GATE programs.
  4. Not only do Latino and Black students have less access to high-level math and science courses, but they are also 1.89 times less likely to be enrolled in calculus courses. English learners are also underrepresented in advanced courses, accounting for 5% of students in schools that offer calculus and only 1% of students enrolled.
  5. Fifty-one percent of high schools with high Latino and Black enrollment have sworn in law enforcement officers. This means that predominately Latino and Black schools have more police and policing than schools with low Latino and Black enrollment.

The CRDC unveils vast disparities in access to opportunity among historically vulnerable populations of students. Latino and English learner students continue to get less access to the resources and supports that lead to academic success. As the nation embarks on a historic implementation of the newly signed Every Student Succeeds Act, it is imperative to strive for closing opportunity gaps for vulnerable kids.

A Bump in Students’ Wages Would Give Them the Break They Need

By Alicia Criado, Field Coordinator, Economic Policy Project, NCLR

Min_Wage_2_FINAL_72 DPIWe’re back for the second installment of our minimum wage truth-telling video blog series. This week, the focus is on how increasing the minimum wage would benefit working students. You might assume we’re only talking about teenagers, but the truth is:

  • The average age of minimum-wage workers is 35 years old.
  • Four out of five minimum-wage workers are at least 20 years old.
  • About 44 percent of minimum-wage workers have some college education.

In an effort to shed light on the fact that many working students are often their families’ primary breadwinner and have to balance work with investing in their future, we’re featuring GOAL Academy leadership staff in this week’s video.

GOAL Academy, an NCLR Affiliate, is a Colorado-based, tuition-free, public online charter school that serves mostly Latino students that are designated at-risk. On average, the students are in their late teens and early twenties, and come from low- and moderate-income families. Given the students’ limited educations, they are typically relegated to jobs that pay at or below the minimum wage. However, the students’ increasing need to work in order to cover basic living expenses weakens their ability to invest more time in their studies.

Students who work can’t afford to lose time in the classroom, given that low educational attainment impedes a large number of young workers—especially Latinos—from accessing full-time, well-paying jobs with career paths. In 2008, only 57.6 percent of Latino children who entered ninth grade completed high school with a regular diploma, compared to 78.4 percent  of White children and 82.7 percent  of Asian youth. Hispanics who enroll in postsecondary education often battle the astronomical costs of higher education, yet often receive less financial aid. This inequity puts an even greater burden on Latino college students either to finance their own education or to apply for student loans, or to drop out of college.

Raising the minimum wage would help ease the pressure on working students by allowing them to work fewer hours, earn more money, and not struggle to pay for basic living expenses like food. These workers, along with millions of others, are waiting on Congress to take action on raising the minimum wage. In light of the Senate delaying the vote on the “Minimum Wage Fairness Act” (S. 1737) once again this week, we want to hear from you. Tell us your minimum wage story!