During Hispanic Heritage Month and Every Day, #LatinosTeach!

Today, nearly one in four students in our nation’s public elementary and secondary schools is Hispanic. Yet, less than one in 10 teachers—or roughly just 8 percent of America’s teaching force—is Hispanic. As the Hispanic population grows, it’s critically important that our teacher workforce reflects our increasingly diverse nation. Hispanic children can benefit by being taught by educators who share their experiences and culture. But it’s also important for all students to learn from teachers who are diverse, dedicated, and passionate.

This Hispanic Heritage Month, during the week of Sept. 28 through Oct. 2, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics is launching a Latinos Teach digital campaign, highlighting Hispanic educators and encouraging more Latinos to consider careers in teaching.

Every parent knows the difference a great teacher makes. And research shows the enormous good that skilled, well-trained teachers can do. Throughout this week, the Initiative will feature online profiles of caring and committed professionals who serve in our schools and inspire young people to achieve their greatest potential.

As a part of this effort, Dr. Jill Biden and Erica Castro, wife of U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro—both teachers themselves—have spoken about the important work that educators do each day. In a video released today, Dr. Biden and Mrs. Castro encourage Latino teachers to tell their story and ask others to share the story of a Latino teacher in their lives, using the hashtag #LatinosTeach.

Watch the video, engage in the discussion on Twitter, and consider becoming involved in the Latinos Teach movement by committing to a career in education.

“A teacher can have a powerful impact on Hispanic students; not just sharing knowledge and helping them grow, but also serving as a role model,” noted Alejandra Ceja, executive director of the Initiative. “We are grateful for the leadership and dedication of the many talented Hispanic teachers in our nation’s schools; and through the #LatinosTeach campaign, we hope to inspire even more Latinos to consider the teaching profession as a way to give back to their communities.”

For more information about the Initiative and other efforts celebrating its 25th Anniversary Year of Action and Hispanic Heritage Month, visit ed.gov/HispanicInitiative.

Federal Agencies Moving Hispanics Forward

Throughout his time in office, President Obama has called on leaders from all sectors to help ensure our country’s future. In the spirit of this shared responsibility, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics this week released a series of commitments, a new report and a set of education data plans outlining the Obama Administration’s work to improve the lives of the 55 million Hispanics who live in the United States—whether through increased access to high-quality early learning and STEM education, more grants to Hispanic-serving colleges, more opportunities to participate in the internships or greater apprenticeships with small businesses.

These efforts highlight over 350 activities, programs and initiatives supporting the educational attainment of our country’s students, including Hispanics. The announcement of Commitments to Action signifies the federal agencies’ steadfast dedication on behalf of the largest, youngest and arguably the fastest-growing population in the nation. The report summarizes the Federal Interagency Working Group on Educational Excellence for Hispanics’ efforts to help ensure federal investments, programs, and opportunities are effectively shared with the Hispanic community, assess and suggest improvements to federal policies, regulations and programs that apply to Hispanic students and communities, and ensure efforts and funding reflect the diversity of the nation’s population and the growing number of Hispanic Serving Institutions while strengthening the link between the Federal government and the nation’s Hispanic communities.

Today, nearly one in four students in our nation’s public schools is a Hispanic youth. Making sure these young people have the opportunity to achieve their dreams isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s also a matter of our shared success as a country. In just the next few decades, Hispanics will represent nearly one in three American workers. It’s clear; the future of our nation is closely connected to the future of our Hispanic communities.

To help move the Latino community and the nation forward, the Initiative issued a national call of action to the public and private sectors. Recognizing that Latinos must continue to graduate from high school college and career ready, and in even greater numbers, having access to quality, well-rounded learning experiences in our public schools with support at the federal, state, and local levels is critical.

This Hispanic Heritage Month marks the 25th anniversary of the existence of the Initiative. The Initiative was originally established by President George H.W. Bush in 1990 to address the educational disparities faced by the Hispanic community. Since then, the Hispanic community has been recognized by multiple presidents and more recently by President Barack Obama through the renewal of the Initiative.

Maribel Duran is the Chief of Staff for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics and leads the Federal Interagency Working Group on Educational Excellence efforts.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month and Bright Spots in Hispanic Education to Fulfill America’s Future

Today, nearly one in four students in our nation’s public schools is a Hispanic youth. Making sure Latinos have the opportunity to achieve their dreams isn’t just the right thing to do for the Latino community —it is also the right thing to do for our country.

In just the next few decades, Hispanics will represent nearly one in three American workers. It’s clear; the future of our nation is inextricably linked to the future of our Hispanic communities.

From September 15 through October 15, our nation observes Hispanic Heritage Month. Each year, especially during this time, we celebrate the incredible contributions of the Hispanic community, honor its heritage, and look ahead to even more progress for Latinos across America. But this year is unique.

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, established in 1990 to address the educational disparities faced by the Hispanic community, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. In honor of this historic milestone, the Initiative launched a year of action in October 2014 to highlight the tremendous progress Latinos are making in education and the challenges that remain to ensure true educational opportunity for all and ensure their educational success is a shared responsibility between all sectors.

Latinos are in fact doing better. For example:

Our nation’s high school graduation rate is the highest in history, and Latinos, the fastest growing population of students, have made the greatest gains – at 76 percent – in graduation rates. From 2011 to 2013, Latino graduation rates have improved by more than four percentage points. Our nation’s high school dropout rate is at a historic low, with the Hispanic dropout rate half of what it was in 2000. And more minority students, including Hispanics, are enrolling in higher education at higher rates.

But the work does not stop there. At only 16 percent of Latinos who hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher, we can and must do better. To help build the national narrative on Latino progress and to share promising practices the Initiative called for nominations for Bright Spots in Hispanic Education. These Bright Spots are evidence-based organizations, models, or initiatives that are helping to close achievement and opportunity gaps, from cradle to career, for Latinos.

Earlier this week, we were proud to recognize more than 230 Bright Spots in Hispanic Education that are working to increase the educational attainment of the Latino community in key areas, including: early learning; K-12 and college access, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education; Latino teacher recruitment; and postsecondary completion.

We know that identifying and implementing strategies and solutions that support Hispanic students is critical to ensuring their success. We also hope that by highlighting work that already is happening across the country, we can encourage more programs, groups, and individuals to collaborate; share data-driven approaches, promising practices, and peer to-peer advice; and build effective partnerships, ultimately resulting in increased educational outcomes for Hispanic students, and all students.

You can find all of the Bright Spots in this national online catalogue, and here is a sampling of what’s there:

Early Learning

  • LAUP, based in CA, has prepared more than 105,000 children for kindergarten and beyond by funding, rating, and raising the quality of preschool programs.

STEM education

  • The ARMAS program in NM was created to increase the number of Hispanic students earning a bachelor of science degree in STEM and offers supplemental instruction and tutoring in STEM courses.

College access

  • The Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA) Project, based in TX, provides extensive wraparound support services and financial assistance so that the students can attend college full time.

Hispanic teacher recruitment

  • The ALBA school in WI works with local universities to create a pipeline to teacher certification, encouraging teacher assistants and parents to pursue credentials to become fully certified educators.

College completion

  • The Dream Project in VA is addressing the needs of undocumented students striving for higher education.

It is critical to continue to identify and highlight asset-based, solutions-oriented innovations that are helping to close achievement and opportunity gaps for Latinos. Throughout Hispanic Heritage Monththe Obama administration is celebrating Latino progress and highlighting the work and investment put it in by parents, community leaders, educators, and students to ensure Latinos achieve.

Visit this blog and the Initiative’s webpage for more updates throughout Hispanic Heritage Month.

View the statement from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on National Hispanic Heritage Month

View President Obama’s proclamation on Hispanic Heritage Month, 2015

Alejandra Ceja is Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics

Engaging Families, Ensuring Education Success: A Back-to-School Tour with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics

In Springdale, Arkansas, the Hispanic population grew by more than 150 percent between 2000 and 2011, largely driven by the arrival of mostly Hispanic immigrants. The school district’s public school population is now 44 percent Hispanic, and its English Learner population is also 44 percent of students. The city has done a remarkable job of embracing their newest community members and ensuring that all students and families are supported.

As part of ED’s Back-to-School Bus Tour, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics (WHIEEH) visited Springdale to learn about the city’s community integration efforts. For the visit, WHIEEH collaborated with the Cisneros Center for New Americans, an organization that works to accelerate the integration of new Americans into American society. One stop was at an early childhood center where newly enrolled families pose for portraits that are placed in the classroom, to help ease the child’s transition and alleviate separation anxiety. Coffee sessions between new and veteran parents help familiarize families with the center and the community.

Another stop included the Turnbow Elementary School family literacy program where parents attend English language classes and scheduled PAC or “Parent and Child” time, in which parents join their children in class. They also learn about other subjects, including safety and financial assistance, from community partners such as the police and fire departments and local banks.

A mother described the program’s impact on her and her daughter: “When I signed up for this program, I saw my daughter with a huge smile, so I know it really mattered to her that I was in it,” she said.

At the Language Academy at Har-Ber High School, newly arrived students write their aspirations on classroom walls. These not only remind students to work hard, but they also provide instructors with daily reminders of their own role in helping all students reach their full potential.

The Academy has served to support integration into the larger community.

“The Language Academy helped me communicate with other people,” one student said. “At first, I didn’t know the basics …and now I’m in a regular class. I know all the things that the teacher tells me, and how they teach me and help me so much.”

A town hall for leaders from throughout the community provided context for the school district’s work. Superintendent Jim Rollins provided an overview of the district’s comprehensive efforts and a panel of experts discussed best practices on immigrant integration.

“Education is the great equalizer – quality education is accessible to immigrant families in Springdale,” said Professor William Schwab, University of Arkansas.

Throughout the tour, it was evident that efforts to break down language barriers and motivate students to succeed in and out of the classroom are making a difference.

Springdale’s family engagement and integration vision and efforts were recognized in a Race to the Top-District grant award in 2013. The program helps localities develop plans to personalize and improve student learning, increase educational opportunities, and provide resources that lead to a high-quality learning experience.

The program has enabled Springdale to provide 100 additional preschool slots to the community’s children and draw up plans to expand their family literacy program to each of their 30 schools.

The commitment to immigrant integration through family engagement is in the soul of the Springdale community. Superintendent Rollins put it best: “Those are the kind of things that can happen when you embrace children and help them find their true potential and promise.”

Emmanuel Caudillo is a Special Advisor for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

My Brother’s Keeper: Voices of Young Men in Denver

Sometimes, all it takes is an honest conversation to be reminded of the power and courage of so many of our country’s students. Earlier this month, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics convened 10 Hispanic young men from the Denver area to sit down with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Colorado Lt. Governor Joe Garcia, Metropolitan State University (MSU) of Denver President Stephen Jordan, and a few other guests, to have just that – an honest conversation.

The roundtable was held at MSU Denver. The young men were students at MSU Denver or at area high schools, and they shared stories about their lives, the challenges they have faced and overcome, the supports that have helped them through, and the things they believe need to be changed or improved to help more Hispanics and other young men of color succeed.

Many of the high school students are regular participants in activities with Padres y Jovenes Unidos, a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve educational equity for Denver students. They shared their experiences around issues like school discipline and need for mentorships. In the video below, you’ll see that the conversation was powerful and moving. It provided insight into how we as a society need to support young men of color, and reminded us of the potential that exists in them.

Marco Davis is Deputy Director for the White House Initiatives on Educational Excellence for Hispanics

President Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper initiative to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential. Learn more at www.whitehouse.gov/my-brothers-keeper.

Summer Melt

It’s summer time! Across the nation thousands of recent high school graduates are enjoying their last summer before their first college semester. They are submitting deposits, selecting courses, packing, and anxiously awaiting their first day. However, a large portion of students from low-income communities will have a very different summer experience. Despite being college eligible and in some cases even enrolled, these students will not attend in the fall and will instead “melt” away during the summer.

Graduation CapsThis is called “summer melt”. Nationally about 10 to 20 percent of college eligible students melt away, most of which are low-income minority students planning to enroll in community college. In the Southwest district that includes Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico, 44 percent of students melt away. The melt was 19 percent for four-year institutions and 37 percent for community colleges in 2011. The lower a student’s income, the more likely they are to experience summer melt because they lack the necessary resources and support. This means that we are losing future Latino leaders and innovators over the summer. We cannot allow this to happen.  A higher education is not just a pathway to opportunity, it is a prerequisite.

This is an important issue for the Latino community because the jobs of the 21st century will require some workforce training or postsecondary education.  As more Latinos graduate from high school every year we need to ensure that they not only access higher education but are prepared to graduate. By 2050 about 30 percent of the US population will be Latino. Also for a majority of low-income minority students, community college is often the selected path to obtain a college degree. So we must address summer melt to increase the number of Latinos earning two and four-year degrees.

This issue can be alleviated via simple measures at home during summer. Parents, speak frequently with your child about college and help them prepare for their fall semester. Encourage them to attend their freshman orientation and encourage them to interact with friends who are enrolled and attending college. Furthermore, encourage your student to remain in contact with school counselors, teachers, and college administrators over summer to ensure that their questions are answered. Students, make sure that you get organized over summer and stay on top of all deadlines. Remember, you are already accepted but you cannot get your college degree if you do not show up.

Alejandra Ceja is the executive director for the White House Initiative on Education Excellence for Hispanics

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Early Learning: A Prerequisite for Success in the Hispanic Community

Hispanic Students Attending College Graph

The biggest jump we’ve seen among students attending college is for Hispanic students – 32% now attend college, compared to 24% in 2003.

It is no surprise to see a room full of business leaders, but what made the meeting on March 19, different was that the leaders in the room were focused on a different kind of investment: education. Secretary Arne Duncan set the stage for the America’s Greatest Investment: Educating the Future plenary session during the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C., by delivering remarks celebrating the educational successes in the Hispanic community and highlighting key components of President Obama’s call for universal high-quality early education.

The good news is that Hispanic high school graduation and college enrollment rates have increased over the last four years. About three in four Latino high school students graduate with their class, and there are now more than half a million additional Hispanic students enrolled in college compared to 2008. But there is still a great deal of work to be done, because while college enrollment is soaring, college completion rates have not kept pace.

Duncan speaks at Hispanic Summit

Secretary Duncan at the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C.

The shortage of Hispanic students on graduation day in college has its roots at the beginning of the education pipeline. One of the best, most strategic ways to continue and build on the educational progress in the Hispanic community is to expand access to affordable, high-quality preschool while also boosting college completion rates

High-quality early education offers the highest rate of return with some studies projecting a return of $7 for every $1 spent. During his State of the Union address, President Obama introduced a new universal preschool plan that would launch a new Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership program and expand the Administration’s evidence-based home visiting initiative. It would create a groundbreaking federal-state partnership that will enable states to provide universal, high-quality preschool for four-year olds from low- and moderate-income families, up to 200 percent of the poverty line.

To garner support for universal high-quality early education programs, Secretary Duncan called on business leaders “to make the case for the significant return-on-investment and greater equity that high-quality early learning will produce for America’s future workforce.” He continued that “business leaders [need] to encourage employees, customers, and neighbors to push for and to participate in high-quality preschool in greater numbers.”

Now is the time for every child in America to have an opportunity for high-quality early education so that all students arrive at kindergarten ready to learn. As he concluded his remarks, Secretary Duncan stated, “With bipartisan backing, with your commitment and leadership, I believe our nation will soon take its next step to transform preschool education. I believe state and local leaders, CEOs, teachers, and moms and dads and grandparents will stand up and say: It is time.”

Read Secretary Duncan’s speech and learn more about President Obama’s plan for early education for all Americans.

Marco Davis is Acting Executive Director for the White House Initiatives on Educational Excellence for Hispanics

ED-Funded Training Helps Displaced Welder Find Calling as Bilingual Teacher

A few years ago, José Grimaldo found himself at a crossroads when he lost his job as a welder at a factory in Illinois. With three children and a wife to support, what was he to do? Grimaldo, like many others who have found themselves jobless during the recent economic downturn, decided to go back to school.

Initially, he began working towards a degree to become a social worker. During one class project, he volunteered in a local school and found himself in a classroom with young students.  There, Grimaldo realized how much he enjoyed working with children and applied for a position as a teacher assistant in a special education program. He worked in this capacity for several years until he began to yearn for his own classroom.

Grimaldo soon decided to abandon his plans to become a social worker, and he enrolled at Illinois State University to study for a bachelor’s degree in education. However, much to Grimaldo’s dismay, he soon learned that most of the education courses were offered only during the day, which posed a problem since Grimaldo was working full-time and could only attend classes at night. Not one to give up easily, he discovered the Bilingual Paraprofessionals in Transition (BPT) program at Illinois State University and quickly enrolled.

José Grimaldo teaches bilingual special education at Foreman High School in Chicago

José Grimaldo teaches bilingual special education at Foreman High School in Chicago

The BPT program follows a grow-your-own model that recruits individuals already working in high-need schools as paraprofessionals or teacher assistants and enables them to take on-site course work and supervision leading to certification and/or endorsements in bilingual/English as a second language (ESL) education. The BPT program is funded by a National Professional Development (NPD) grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA). NPD is the only federal grant program that targets professional development exclusively for education personnel who serve English learners.

NPD-funded projects provide participants with tuition assistance and a network of support while completing their program of study. To date, the NPD program has achieved tremendous outcomes with 6,828 pre-service teachers having completed programs that led to teaching credentials; 6,239 in-service teachers having completed programs that led to bilingual or ESL certification; 8,412 in-service teachers having completed professional programs that did not lead to bilingual or ESL certification; and 115 bilingual paraprofessionals having completed associates degree programs.

Since Illinois State’s first NPD grant in 2007, the university’s BPT program has graduated 57 paraprofessionals and all of them have gotten jobs as teachers. More will graduate in May.

The impact of the BPT program on the lives of students and teachers alike has been exceedingly positive, as Grimaldo can attest. Despite working long days as a teacher assistant and then staying after work to take classes, Grimaldo never once complained, said George Torres, director of the BPT program.

Grimaldo graduated cum laude in the spring of 2011 and now teaches bilingual special education at Foreman High School in Chicago. He credits his own struggle as an English learner (EL) with his ability to understand the challenges that ELs face in the classroom as well as in their community.

He said he feels that his choice to live within the same community where he teaches is important. He often sees his students while out doing errands, and his students see that his commitment to them extends beyond the classroom.

Grimaldo’s accomplishment is important, not only because he has found an important and rewarding profession, but because he is helping to solve one of our country’s biggest educational challenges: recruiting teachers who look and sound like our students. According to a 2008 study by the National Center for Educational Statistics, more than 22 percent of our nation’s students are Hispanic, while just over 7 percent of our teachers are.

Asked how his experience in the BPT program has affected him and his family’s life, Grimaldo said, “I feel that I am setting a good example for my children – Joanna (20), Joseph (18), and Jonathan (11). My wife, Ana, is also working toward a degree in this program. She will graduate this spring. Our children state that they feel proud of what we have and will continue to accomplish, and that we inspired them to continue their education.”

Earlier this week, ED announced the award of nearly $24.4 million for 73 grants to improve instruction for English learners. Click here to learn more.

Anthony Sepúlveda is an education program specialist in the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA)

Teachers@ED: José Rico

Editors Note: Teachers@ED profiles some of the hundreds of current and former educators who work at the U.S. Department of Education, and how their experiences in schools inform their work for the agency.

Carlos and Celia Rico had big hopes for their children, which is one reason the couple emigrated from Mexico, and settled in Chicago. José, Carlos and Celia’s oldest, quickly adapted to the new language, culture and climate, and with a combination of support and inspiration from teachers, he became the first person in his family to go to college. Still, Rico never expected that he would one day become the executive director for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

Teachers@ED Logo“When I first started school, I was one of those students who had a hard time,” Rico said. “My school did not have a bilingual education program; it was one of those sink-or-swim programs. The school didn’t provide support for my parents, and there was no support for me to access the curriculum.”

Founding a School to Help Students Like Him

This all changed when Rico reached high school and he came to know teachers who pushed him to excel. His strongest subjects were math and science; high marks in these areas earned him an engineering scholarship to the University of Illinois. Soon thereafter, he became a high school science teacher. Later on, after having worked in youth development programs, Rico took notice of the power in young people taking responsibility for their education; he decided to harness that power by opening his own community high school, which had a health clinic and provided classes for students learning English, in addition to general academics.

“The motivating factor was not wanting students to face the same obstacles I had faced,” Rico said. “My passion has been to try to design education programs that value students, include their parents and expect high standards from everyone.”

José Rico

José Rico

Rico’s charge within ED is to link individuals and organizations from within and outside the education system to meet the local and national challenges faced by Hispanics today and spread the word about education initiatives in early learning, higher education, K-12 and other specific areas that focus on the Hispanic community. He also works to develop relationships with thousands of Hispanic leaders across the country who are implementing these changes.

Most recently, the White House Initiative and the White House Office of Public Engagement brought together more than 500 Hispanic community leaders for a Hispanic Community Action Summit in Los Angeles, the 17th regional summit organized by the office to address important issues such as: funding resources for pre-K-postsecondary education; health care; small business needs; immigration issues; and communication infrastructures among Latino organizations.

Local Leaders Want a Federal Partner

“Leaders on the ground want the federal government to be a partner,” Rico says. “People in the Hispanic community want us to play a role. Some states have cut back on education and it has a big impact on the Hispanic community. People want us to work with them and bring a diverse group of stakeholders to the table.”

Educating Latinos is not only important to their community, Rico emphasizes; it’s critical for the country. In the last two years, Latinos have become the largest minority group in the nation’s schools.

“I’ve seen the power education plays in a kid’s life, regardless of where they come from. Education leads to a better job, and it is a way in which our country can fulfill the promise that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can be successful.” Rico says. “There’s no way of denying that the future of America depends on the education attainment of Hispanics.”

Natalie Torentinos is a graduate student at The George Washington University and an intern in the Office of Communications and Outreach.

Community Action Grows Organically at Hispanic Summit

José Rico, executive director of White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, arranged the last chair in the multi-purpose room of Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academies in Los Angeles and flashed a smile to his team. “Let’s do it,” he said.

Secretary Salazar speaking at the forum

Department of the Interior Ken Salazar speaks the Summit. Photo by Tami Heilemann.

On April 5, the Initiative and the White House Office of Public Engagement brought together more than 500 Hispanic community leaders for a White House Hispanic Community Action Summit. By using an Open Space format, the summit democratically captured the voices, needs and interests of all participants.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and other Hispanic leaders opened the day. Civil rights leader Dolores Huerta received a standing ovation. Students in neat blue-collared shirts from Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez Learning Center sat in the front row, looking shy but proud.

Next, more than 35 senior leaders from various federal agencies shared how their work supports Hispanic initiatives and priorities, and they invited the local leaders to engage in dialog to help the federal government be more responsive to the community’s needs. “I’m not leaving until I hear what you have to say,” one federal official said. “I’ll be here all day.”

An agenda in motion

Then, any summit participant who wanted to offer a session to the group took the microphone. A long line stretched around the room as the topics and locations for the sessions were projected on a screen for everyone.

Nearly 40 sessions were proposed, with topics addressing both local and national issues, including: “funding resources for PreK-12 education to provide support,” “building communication among Latino organizations,” “addressing enforcement issues in immigration,” “the Affordable Care Act and health disparities in the Latino community,” “regional environmental issues in the San Gabriel mountains,” and a teacher roundtable as part of the Department of Education’s National Conversation about the Teaching Profession.

After picking up lunch, people moved to the sessions that interested them most. At numbered tables and clusters of chairs, participants dug deeply into summit priorities, sharing experiences and expertise from their unique contexts. Laptops along the side of the room allowed groups to upload and share their session reports.

Summit Roundtable Discussion

A breakout session at the Summit

Taking action

At the end of the day, José Rico pulled everyone back together into a large circle to share their action plans and recommendations. “What,” he asked them, “are you going to be ready to do when you leave here today?”

The White House Hispanic Community Action Summit in Los Angeles was the 17th regional summit organized by the White House Initiative and White House Office of Public Engagement to address issues critically important to the Hispanic community. Summit discussions have informed the implementation of new policies and helped the Obama Administration increase participation in and awareness of federal initiatives programs, as well as leading to concrete next steps being taken by both the federal government and summit participants

A recently released interim report details some of the outcomes and follow-up from previous summits. For more information about the initiative, visit www.whitehouse.gov/hispanic.

Maryann Woods-Murphy is a Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow who teaches Spanish in Allendale, NJ. She is also the 2009-2010 New Jersey Teacher of the Year.

San Antonio Community Joins National Conversation about Education

Duncan at Cafe College

Secretary Duncan at Cafe College in San Antonio. Official Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.

“America’s economic success is inextricably linked with the success of the Hispanic community,” Secretary Duncan said last week in San Antonio. Duncan joined the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics for two events, including a town hall with San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro at Café College, San Antonio’s college access and resource center that encourages and helps students of all ages obtain a higher education.

During the town hall, community leaders and educators discussed the importance of expanding opportunities for Hispanic students to meet President Obama’s education goals for the nation. Nearly 140 audience members, and over 500 online viewers participated as Secretary Duncan and Mayor Castro answered questions about local, regional and national efforts to improve college access, affordability, and persistence for all students.

Café College is part of San Antonio 2020, an effort created under Mayor Castro’s leadership, which seeks to improve early learning and higher education opportunities for all San Antonio residents by 2020.

Click here for an alternate version of the video with an accessible player.

Secretary Duncan also joined more than 400 community leaders and 28 senior Obama administration officials at the White House Hispanic Community Action Summit at Fox Tech High School. The summit brought together the community to identify issues of concern for Hispanics and develop solutions that would improve access to and quality of education.

Speaking at the Summit, Duncan noted that “the success of the Hispanic community, as with other communities, is largely dependent on educational attainment and on ensuring that barriers in the way of this objective are tackled head-on.”

The event was the 14th summit held by the White House office of Public Engagement and the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. The summit series has engaged almost 5,000 leaders throughout the nation.

The event is part of a series of summits throughout the nation developed by the White House office of Public Engagement and the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

Watch the archived webcast of the town hall at: http://bit.ly/EdSAT.

#HispanicED Twitter Town Hall with Arne Duncan

Duncan answers questions at the Hispanic Twitter Town Hall

Secretary Duncan answers questions at the Hispanic Twitter Town Hall. Official Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.

An engaged audience with a broad range of questions joined Secretary Arne Duncan on Twitter and via video yesterday to discuss education issues facing the Latino community. Duncan was joined by José Rico, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, and guests from Latinos in Social Media (LATISM). In all, Arne and José answered more than 20 questions. Here is a sample of some of the topics discussed:

College Affordability


Parental Involvement

Early Learning

To see all of the tweets from the event, check out @HispanicED on Twitter, and to see the archived video of the event, click here.