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Speaking Truth to Power April 1, 2014

Posted by latinoschoolleaders in Education Policy.
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By Angelica Solis, Director, Youth Policy Institute

Module2_Meeting_10_newOur national leaders are charged with some heavy responsibilities: representing the community’s interest and ensuring that that representation reflects national policy. This is easier said than done. Competing community interests, disconnect between local realities and national perceptions, insufficient information about specific topic issues, and many other factors often challenge our leadership’s ability to develop policies that address the specific needs of Latino students and their families. For this reason, it is important that school and community leaders working directly with Latino communities actively engage policy makers around the issues that are vital to supporting the students and families they work with.

Informing and educating policy makers and their staff about important education issues such as NCLB waivers, college and career readiness standards, family engagement, and mental health, is critical to ensuring that Latino voices and experiences are not lost as our national legislators craft policies that will impact our community. Most importantly, having policy makers hear first hand the stories of how education policies play out locally, allows them to put faces to the issues and to contextualize the statistics and data that may or may not accurately capture the impacts of these policies in our communities.

On March 6, the current cohort of NCLR’s National Institute for Latino School Leaders (NILSL) had an opportunity to do just that – share their local stories, experiences and expertise around these and several other key issues impacting Latino students and families across the country.  The NILSL fellows had the chance to meet with representatives from high-ranking legislative leaders such as Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Congressman George Miller (D-Calif.), and others, that are currently leading discourse and developing policies that impact our educators, schools, students and families. NILSL participants shared first-hand accounts of how their schools can use resources to support teacher development; how realignment of existing funds can impact a school’s ability to provide mental health resources to the child that has to overcome the traumas of living in a gang-infested neighborhood; and how developing clear accountability measures can ensure local schools are held accountable for erasing the achievement gap.

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These were the stories the NILSL fellows carried with them as they walked the halls of Congress and met with the staff of the powerful leaders that will make decisions that impact their communities. Equipped with these stories as well as the hard facts and data related to the issue topics, the school and community leaders were unwavering in their commitment to the share the key recommendations that will ultimately lead to improved student outcomes, safe and healthy school environments, and improved community and family engagement.

Without the voices of local school and community leaders in Washington D.C., our leaders’ job of representing our Latino community interests will be difficult to fulfill, and it is in our best interest that they are successful at what they do so that our communities can be successful in return.

Teaching and Learning — A Principal’s Perspective March 15, 2013

Posted by latinoschoolleaders in Principal Effectiveness.
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By John De La Cruz, Principal, George I. Sanchez Charter School

I don’t know if there has ever been a time when public schools only had to concern themselves with teaching and learning academic content but I can say with certainty that now is definitely not that time. At my inner city charter school everyday brings new challenges that have nothing to do with academic content.

George I. Sanchez studentsIf you were a principal at my school, a typical day on for you might look something like this: You start the morning dealing with some high school students who were brought in reeking of the marijuana they smoked on their way to school that morning. Shortly thereafter you deal with some middle-school students who were bullying each other because of something that was posted to Facebook. Just as that is resolved, you are made aware that the young lady from yesterday’s bullying incident is having a crisis and has indicated to staff that she is contemplating suicide. While addressing this issue, it is brought to your attention that a pregnant girl in 10th grade is possibly experiencing contractions and needs medical attention. Efforts to reach any of the parents or family members of any the students involved in these incidents have not been met with success. Phone numbers that were provided to the school are no longer active or are answered by the wrong party. Therefore, the responsibility of what to do with those students falls squarely on your shoulders.

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