Friday, August 08, 2008

'Enough is Enough;' LULAC Rallies Parents, Communities to Reverse Dropout Rates

July 9, 2008

National Parent Involvement Initiative Challenges U.S. Education Policy

WASHINGTON, July 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 40 percent of Latino
students drop out of high school each year, in large part because of the
education policies that do not hold high schools accountable for graduation
rates. The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) - a founding
member of the Campaign for High School Equity (CHSE), a leading coalition of
civil rights organizations striving for stronger education policies - said
"Enough is enough" today during a town hall meeting at its National Convention
& Exposition. At the meeting, LULAC launched its national Parent Involvement
Initiative to engage Hispanic parents in education reform.

"The inequalities that exist in the current U.S. education system are
appalling at best," said Rosa Rosales, president of LULAC. "In our
communities, with the full support and involvement of parents, is where we
will see change happen so that more of our young people graduate from high
school prepared for college, work, and life. Working with CHSE, LULAC will
engage its strong grassroots network to create a future for Hispanic students
that is based in academic success."

The Initiative will be piloted in 18 cities, including several that are home
to "dropout factories" - schools where no more than 60 percent of entering
freshmen make it to their senior year three years later. These include Los
Angeles; Philadelphia; Chicago; Kansas City, Mo.; Dallas; Houston; and
Milwaukee. Dropout factories make up only about 12 percent of all high
schools, but they produce approximately half of America's dropouts and
two-thirds of all African American and Hispanic dropouts.

In each city, the Initiative will enlist a core team of parents and family
members who are already active in their schools and districts and prepare them
to take their efforts to the federal level, advocating for substantial reforms
to education policy. In turn, this group of parents will empower others to
join in a rallying cry to take charge of the situation and change the course
of federal education policy for Hispanic students and all students of color.

At the town hall meeting, Rosales was joined by federal, state, and local
policymakers, as well as education advocates, to discuss and identify
community-based solutions to the challenges in education policy that leave
many Latino youth without academic opportunities.

Panelists, including Dr. John Arnold, chair of the National LULAC Education
Commission, and CHSE members Peter Zamora of the Mexican American Legal
Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and Hilary Shelton, director of the
NAACP's Washington Bureau, addressed strategies for strengthening the
Elementary and Secondary Education Act to better serve students of color. CHSE
members called for federal policy reforms that: 1) make all students
proficient and prepared for college and work; 2) hold high schools accountable
for student success; and 3) redesign the American high school.

Other panelists at the town hall meeting included Holly Kuzmich, deputy chief
of staff for policy, U.S. Department of Education; Dr. Joel Gomez, associate
professor of educational leadership, The George Washington University; Roberto
Rodriguez, senior education advisor, Senate Health, Education, Labor and
Pensions Committee; and Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez, a parent and candidate for
the Arlington County School Board. The group addressed necessary policy
changes that will ensure equitable learning conditions, as well as federal
program initiatives that will encourage parental and community involvement in
U.S. high schools and strategies for redesigning high schools so that all
students graduate prepared for college, work, and life.

The Campaign for High School Equity is a diverse coalition of national civil
rights organizations representing communities of color that believe high
schools should have the capacity and motivation to prepare every student for
graduation, college, work, and life.In addition to LULAC, MALDEF, and NAACP,
members of the Campaign include the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Education Fund, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed
Officials Educational Fund, the National Council of La Raza, the National
Indian Education Association, the National Urban League, The Alliance for
Excellent Education, and the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center.

SOURCE Campaign for High School Equity

Lizette Olmos of LULAC, +1-202-365-4553,; or Laura
Rodriguez, +1-202-331-4323,, for the Campaign for High
School Equity

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