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    By Delia Pompa, Senior Vice President, Programs, NCLR

    This was originally published in La Opinión. Read it here.

    Variety can be a good thing, but inconsistency and lack of clear goals is another matter altogether. Imagine, for instance, if restaurants never used menus. Chefs would prepare meals with whatever they had in the refrigerator. The ingredients for the same dish would always be different—and of drastically varying quality. Most of us would never know what would end up on our tables, and there would be little attention paid to nutritional needs or details.

    Unfortunately, we’ve been facing a similar challenge in our nation’s schools. Without “consistent standards” to serve as guides and define clear goals, education has been done with surprisingly little coordination. Academic content is different from state to state, and so is the quality of instruction.

    Our children are the ones who’ve been paying the price for this disjointed system. Only 58% of Latino students graduate from high school, and those who do graduate have not necessarily been taught what they need to succeed in college. Ultimately, it has been ZIP codes—not sound and rigorous standards expressed as clear academic objectives—that have dictated much of what is taught in schools. That structure hurts our children, our future as a community, and our nation as whole.

    To combat these inequalities and improve education in all schools, the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) have worked with parents, local organizations, researchers, teachers and other education professionals. Together, they have created a core of new common standards in math and language arts. This new guide—the Common Core State Standards (CCSS or “Common Core”)—provides real consistency in quality instruction across schools and communities. These innovative standards are not the product of a federal mandate. Rather, the CCSS were born, and are now being implemented, at the state level. And, while the goals of the Common Core are world-class and well-coordinated, educational decisions will remain at the local level.

    Already more than 40 states have voluntarily replaced their old—often disjointed—standards with those of the CCSS. With this move, states adopt a clear set of objectives regarding the knowledge and skills that students must acquire to succeed in school and in life. It is a major and overdue step in the right direction, and it will help Latino students tremendously.

    The CCSS takes the best elements of quality instruction from the some of the world’s leading nations. The state standards are designed to help all students get into college without having to take remedial courses. That means our children won’t have to play “catch-up.” Instead, they will be able to focus on succeeding academically and preparing for jobs where they will earn good salaries.

    Of course, just as a menu does not tell a chef how to make the meal, the Common Core does not tell a teacher how to teach. The CCSS only say what students should know and be able to do at the end of the school year. It is state and local educators, however, who will continue to develop the curriculum and day-by-day lessons. Schools and teachers will still adapt their instruction to the local needs and interests, but they will also ensure that students master all the skills and knowledge contained in the standards.

    As a next step in this process, states are helping educators incorporate the CCSS into current instruction. Some states have joined in consortia to develop shared tests and other assessments based on the Common Core. This will save time and money by eliminating duplication. It will also make it harder to convey the false illusion of progress through inappropriate or inaccurate measurements.

    At the same time, and with the CCSS as a guide, educators are creating ways to share lessons and materials online. That allows students in Colorado to benefit from the knowledge and creativity of teachers in Massachusetts. Publishers, too, are developing textbooks and supports based on the Common Core. And, since the Common Core also has a specific emphasis on the best research-based instruction for English Language Learners, better materials are being developed to help these students.

    Indeed, like a good menu that informs customers and allows them to demand quality food in a restaurant, the Common Core helps define and promote the kind of instruction that prepares students—step-by-step—for college, the workplace, and life. Clearly, the outcomes depend on the continued work of teachers, administrators, parents, and students themselves. But the CCSS—along with the materials, exams, and other tools that are being developed around them—bring true quality control to the process. That’s great news for everyone who recognizes that our children are a major part of our present and 100% of the future. Now we’ll all be on the same page when it comes to preparing them for a brighter tomorrow. 


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    Originally posted at Corporation for Enterprise Development blog. Views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of NCLR or its Affiliates.

    By Denisse Dubrovsky and Nick Maynard

    Are you playing Angry Birds on your smartphone? Have you taken a break from work to play some Tetris or Bejewelled? Stopped by FarmVille while on Facebook? Chances are you have, since almost everyone is playing video games these days. And the explosion of gaming on smartphones and Facebook is only enhancing this trend. With Financial Entertainment, Americans now have the opportunity to engage with financial education through fun, addictive casual online games.

    National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and Doorways to Dreams (D2D) Fund have partnered to improve financial capability among American households. Through a new, bilingual (English/Spanish) online casual game platform, these award winning games now have the potential to benefit a much larger audience. Last week, we launched a national Farm Blitz Tournament to engage families in this exciting financial education. Join us!

    Combining the most popular casual game mechanic in the world—a “Match-3” puzzle game like Bejeweled — and farm motif with financial education content, Farm Blitz has an addictive, immersive quality. Players cash in crops by matching veggies in a row and save to plan for emergencies like time warps and other “natural” disasters, all the while watching out for the hungry bunnies ready to munch if debt gets out of control!

    So, since it’s addicting, it might as well be good for you, right? Farm Blitz teaches about:

    • The power of compound interest, both positive and negative
    • The value of low-interest, long-term savings
    • The perils of high-interest, short-term debt

    Farm Blitz has won an EIFLE award and been nominated for a Games for Change Direct Impact Award.

    D2D (www.d2dfund.org) is a national nonprofit 501(c)3 organization focused on innovations that expand savings and personal finance opportunities for all Americans, in part by creating, testing, and deploying innovations like financial entertainment. Taking cues from business and entertainment strategies, this innovation project works with and for consumers in the development of engaging new media to improve personal financial capability, self-confidence and knowledge. Financial entertainment captures the immersive quality of casual online games to teach important financial lessons. The current financial entertainment library features five titles, three of which are in Spanish and English.

    D2D partners with organizations to distribute these games to consumers; partners include the military, community colleges, financial services firms, employers, government and community organizations. In addition, financial entertainment is regularly played in middle school and high school classrooms across the US.

    This innovation is supported by the Financial Literacy Center. Visit www.nclr.financialentertainment.org for more details and to play! 


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    This post is part of the #HERvotes blog carnival. Check out all the posts from the blog carnival here.

    By Nancy Wilberg Ricks, Policy Analyst, Wealth-Building Policy Project, NCLR

    The economic meltdown battered many Americans, but women and communities of color have long sustained the impact of an imbalanced financial market. Hard working women are deeply familiar with the enormous racial and gender wealth gap in America. Single Black and Hispanic women have one penny of wealth for every dollar of wealth owned by their male counterparts and a fraction of a penny for every dollar of wealth owned by White women. When it comes to employment, the largest gender pay gap is between White men and White women, with women earning only 72.6% of the pay of their male counterparts.

    Not for a lack of trying, talent, or fortitude, women-led households have found it difficult to stretch their paychecks to cover necessities, let alone acquire the assets needed to secure a better life for their children. Honest workers have watched the cost of items increase while their income stagnates. And these were all realities before the financial debacle. Now more than ever, though, a house—often a family’s largest asset traditionally relied upon to send children to college or aid in retirement—is that much further out of reach for our families. For those who are homeowners, many are watching this all-important investment slip through their fingers.

    Gabrielle from Cobb County in Georgia shared with us her experience of trying to hold onto her home. She is a Latina who holds two masters degrees, works as an educator, and is the sole caretaker of her 91-year-old mother. In 2010, she and her colleagues saw their salary decrease by 2% and they were required to take five furlough days. This caused Gabrielle to become more dependent on her credit cards to cover basic needs. She has yet to miss a house payment but is increasingly concerned that she will not be able to continue on this path. Gabrielle spoke with several agents about her situation, but they gave her contradictory advice: “One told me that I needed to make one more payment and then I could refinance. When I called back to begin the process, I was told, ‘I don’t know why that information was given to you!’ All has been a runaround and when I read the blogs regarding my mortgage company, one which took bailout funds, I have no hope of a modification.”

    Our nation’s leaders need a wake-up call. In response to the crisis, they have and will continue to make decisions without consideration of women and communities of color. When will American families take the spotlight in economic reform policy? At most, we have been an afterthought. The reform programs implemented left homeowners in the lurch. The federal government has even cut all the funding for the critical housing counseling program—one of the only tools known to decrease a borrower’s chances of defaulting on a mortgage. More and more families have slipped out of the middle class; low-income households are scrambling that much harder to survive. Our only hope is to take action and to make our vote count in 2012.


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Julian Teixeira
    jteixeira@nclr.org
    (202) 776-1812


    Remarks from Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR

    Washington, D.C.—NCLR (National Council of La Raza) joined with millions of Americans across the country today in celebrating this weekend’s dedication of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington; it is the first monument in our nation’s capital to honor a civil rights leader. Below are remarks from NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía, which she made at a luncheon—Honoring Civil Rights Leaders Past, Present, and Future—held today at the Washington Convention Center:

    “Thank you. It is an honor for me to be here today during this historic week for our country. I, like millions of Americans, am filled with joy that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is finally receiving the permanent tribute he deserves in our nation’s capital. I look forward to welcoming members of my community to Washington to visit our newest monument.

    “We all know that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man of great faith. That faith included his unshakable belief in our country. He revered the majestic documents of this great nation’s founding such as the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. He knew that the path to equality and justice lay in embracing our country’s most fundamental values and principles.

    “In his iconic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, whose anniversary we commemorate this week, he spoke eloquently about the Declaration of Independence. Part of his dream, in fact, was that this nation would one day live up to the creed, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

    “I believe that he did this, in part, to demonstrate that these core tenets of our democracy do not belong just to a few, or to just one party, or to just one group of Americans. They belong to all of us. And I think there is no better time to remind us all of that than right now.

    “He quoted from these cherished documents to reaffirm to other Americans that democracy and living up to our ideals are not simply abstract concepts but a living, breathing reality. It is why his words also resonated so deeply with the Latino community. Thousands were on the Mall that day, including my predecessor Raul Yzaguirre, who marched with Dr. King.

    “I am a child of Dr. King’s hope. I know about the power of his dream.

    “Dr. King’s dream was an inclusive dream and spoke to more than one community. It was universal and transcendent.

    “And he lived his words, ‘We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny,’ when he wrote to one of our community’s great leaders, Cesar Chavez, during Cesar’s fast. In that telegram, he said, ‘Our separate struggles are really one. A struggle for freedom, for dignity and humanity.’

    “Dr. King’s telegram was a call to action. And his words are just as relevant today as we continue to fight to make the promises of democracy real for all Americans. It is why we are working so hard to make sure all of us have a voice and that all of us exercise our right to vote.

    “Because nothing is stronger than our commitment to civil rights and human dignity. Nothing is stronger than our commitment to full and equal political participation. Nothing is stronger than our commitment to increased opportunity for all.

    “Nearly 50 years have passed since Dr. King’s legendary speech. So much has been accomplished. Yet, it is clear that there is so much left to do. It is my hope that, 50 years from now, we will be able to look back on this time and that historians will say that, together, we wrote a special chapter in our country’s history.

    “That we came together and stepped up to build the coalitions, the bridges, the understanding that allowed us to not only advance our respective communities but to move our entire nation forward.

    “Together we can move mountains!”

     

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    For the Comer Bien blog series, NCLR has asked several of our partners and Affiliates to reflect on the issues raised by families in the video vignettes. Views and opinions expressed are those of the author and Prevention Institute.

    By Ann Whidden, Communications Manager, Prevention Institute

    When NCLR asked José, age 20, to describe how his family, friends and neighbors shop for food in Washington, DC, the primary challenges he noted had to do with neighborhood safety and transportation. What does safety have to do with healthy eating? Everything, as José notes. When people do not feel safe in their communities, they are less likely to use local parks, access public transportation, walk to the grocery store, or let their children play outside. Communities perceived as being unsafe are less likely to benefit from investments such as healthy food retail and recreation centers. Links between violence (and the fear of violence) and healthy eating are disproportionately prominent in communities of color and low-income populations, which contributes to the widening gap in health and safety outcomes. Preventing violence is critical to reducing inequities in health for Latinos and other communities of color and to promoting healthy eating for all Americans.

    Community leaders are calling for a better understanding of the impact that violence has on healthy eating and activity. Prevention Institute's paper on violence and healthy eating and activity, Addressing the Intersection: Preventing Violence and Promoting Healthy Eating and Active Living, provides an explanation of the intersection between violence and healthy eating and activity, and highlights the key ways that these issues intersect.

    Prevention Institute also coordinates an innovative pilot effort highlighting approaches that support safe, healthy, and thriving communities for all. The Convergence Partnership Violence Prevention – Healthy Eating, Active Living pilot project, launched in January 2010, explores the effectiveness of community-based strategies for violence prevention and the promotion of healthy eating and active living. The initiative is funding six communities across the country to establish a community partnership comprised of an organization engaged in active living and/or healthy eating; an organization focused on preventing violence; a public health department; and one youth or young professional.

    In the primarily Latino Westwood neighborhood of Denver, CO, a team of community organizations, youth, the city council, public health department, and many others began work to develop a healthy, local food system that also supports safety in the community. The Denver community is developing a large-scale, organic urban farm and a weekly farmers’ market, as well as implementing the Kepner Urban Training Farm Program. This program trains at-risk youth in urban farming, community outreach, and small business development, which will ultimately expand employment opportunities for the neighborhood. This emphasis on employment and training will address underlying inequities—such as access to education and job opportunities—that contribute to violence. To amplify the positive effect of increased job skills and availability, the Program is incorporating teamwork and problem solving support into their program. The Westwood team is also working with the juvenile justice system to refer youth to gardening, urban agriculture, and healthy food and activity programs. As young people gain skills by working and volunteering on the urban farm, the food they harvest will provide their community with access to healthy foods.

    Rigoberta Menchú Tum, winner of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize, visited the Westwood neighborhood in 2010 to kick off a Day of Action at The Garden de Esperanza. True to its name, The Garden de Esperanza is a space where hope and community are cultivated in a neighborhood struggling with gangs, drugs and lack of access to affordable and healthy food. Over 100 people attended the Day of Action to hear Rigoberta’s inspiring words. Rigoberta’s message was clear: Preventing violence in concert with promoting healthy eating and activity is no easy task, but we must work together to bring peace and build healthy, sustainable communities.  


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Julian Teixeira
    (202) 776-1812


    NBC to televise prime-time special, co-hosted by Eva Longoria and George Lopez,
    to air Friday, September 16 from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. EDT

    NEW YORK—The nominees for Favorite Film for the 2011 NCLR (National Council of La Raza) ALMA Awards® were revealed. For the first time, fans will be able to vote for their favorite movie, and the winner will be revealed during the one-hour prime-time special airing Friday, September 16 from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. EDT on NBC.

    The nominees for the Favorite Film category are:

    • A Better Life
    • From Prada to Nada
    • Machete
    • Rio
    • Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World

    To vote, please go to www.almaawards.com. The Favorite Movie category has now been added to the voting form. All voting ends on September 5, 2011.

    Winners of the NCLR ALMA Awards will be determined by evaluating votes cast and box office, Nielsen, and Billboard rankings, and in consultation with the NCLR ALMA Awards Production Leadership Team. Selection rules and eligibility are posted at www.almaawards.com. Not all awards will be presented on-air during the NBC special. However, viewers can watch the remaining award presentations during the pre-television show streamed online via telemundo.com/almaawards.

    For additional information, including announcements about the presenters and performers at this year’s ceremony, please visit www.almaawards.com or follow the show on Twitter at #almaawards. For embeddable clips and full episodes from NBC shows, please visit NBC.com’s official show site: http://www.nbc.com/shows.

    MEDIA CONTACTS

    For NBC:
    Sharon Pannozzo, NBC Entertainment Publicity, (212) 664-5152

    For the NCLR ALMA Awards:
    Jennifer Price-Keith, The Lippin Group, (323) 965-1990, jprice@lippingroup.com
    Julian Teixeira, Director of Communications, NCLR, (202) 776-1812, jteixeira@nclr.org

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    PARA DIFUSIÓN INMEDIATA


    Contacto:
    Julián Teixeira
    (202) 776-1812


    NBC televisará un programa especial en horario estelar, co-presentado por Eva Longoria y George López, el viernes 16 de septiembre de 8:00 a 9:00 PM EDT

    NEW YORK— Se han revelado los nominados para la categoría de Película Favorita de los premios ALMA 2011 del NCLR (Consejo Nacional de La Raza). Por primera vez, los fans podrán votar por su película favorita, y se dará a conocer al ganador durante el programa especial de una hora en horario estelar que se emitirá en NBC, el viernes 16 de septiembre de 8:00 a 9:00 PM tiempo estándar del este (EST).

    Los nominados en la categoría de Película Favorita son:

    • A Better Life (Una Vida Mejor)
    • From Prada to Nada (De Prada a Nada)
    • Machete
    • Rio
    • Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World (Mini Espías 4: Todo el Tiempo en el Mundo)

    Para votar, por favor visite www.almaawards.com. Ya se ha añadido la categoría de Película Favorita al formulario de votación. Las votaciones terminarán el 5 de septiembre de 2011.

    Los ganadores de los premios ALMA se determinarán mediante la evaluación de los votos emitidos y la taquilla, Nielsen, y los rankings de Billboard, y contando con el asesoramiento del Equipo de Liderazgo de Producción de los premios ALMA del NCLR. Las reglas de selección y elegibilidad están publicadas en www.almaawards.com. No todos los premios se entregarán durante el programa especial de la NBC. Sin embargo, los espectadores podrán ver la entrega de los premios restantes durante el pre-show de televisión transmitido en línea vía telemundo.com/almaawards.

    Para información adicional, incluyendo el anuncio de los presentadores y artistas que participarán en la ceremonia de este año, por favor visite www.almaawards.com o siga el programa en Twitter en #almaawards. Para clips embebidos y episodios completos de los programas de NBC, por favor visite la página de NBC.com en su sección de programación oficial http://www.nbc.com/shows.

     

    CONTACTOS PARA LOS MEDIOS DE COMUNICACIÓN

    Para NBC:
    Sharon Pannozzo de NBC Entertainment Publicity, (212) 664-5152

    Para los premios ALMA del NCLR:
    Jennifer Price-Keith de The Lippin Group, (323) 965-1990, jprice@lippingroup.com
    Julián Teixeira, director de comunicaciones del NCLR, (202) 776-1812, jteixeira@nclr.org


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    Last Thursday, NCLR held its first-ever live Twitter chat! We talked with Nayda Rivera-Hernandez, a NCLR senior research analyst and the author of the 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book–Puerto Rico report. You can follow Nayda @nayda4prkids on Twitter. NCLR publishes the Puerto Rico report with generous support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

    This year, the report showed that kids in Puerto Rico are much worse off than kids in the mainland United States. You can read the report here, or check out our blog post, where you will find some handy tools to help you navigate the entire KIDS COUNT Data Book.

    And, don’t forget to follow @NCLR on Twitter and “Like” our page on Facebook!

    Finally, if you want to learn more about the entire KIDS COUNT report, join the Annie E. Casey Foundation tomorrow at 2:30 EDT. The foundation will be also be hosting a live chat about the report, with a focus on the recession’s impact on children. You can use the hashtag #KCChat to join the conversation.

    @NCLR: Hello and Welcome to NCLR's Live Twitter chat on the 2011 KIDS Count Databook-Puerto Rico. #KCDATA11.

    @NCLR: Our guest today is @nayda4prkids, Senior Research Analyst here at NCLR & the author of the KIDS Count Databook for Puerto Rico #KCDATA11

    @nayda4prkids: Hello everyone and thank you for your interest on #KCDATA11

    @NCLR: Thanks for being here @nayda4prkids. 1st q: Can you tell us a little about some of the most striking findings from the report? #KCDATA11

    @nayda4prkids: 1 of the most striking findings of report is that PR children are faring worse than any other state jurisdiction #KCDATA11

    @nayda4prkids: 4 Ex. PR has the highest rates of low birth weight babies (12.5%), teens not attending school and not working (15%) #KCDATA11

    @nayda4prkids: children without secure parental employment (52%), and children in single-parent families (54%) of all states in the US #KCDATA11

    @NCLR: 2nd q from @HealthyKara: What are some of the health indicators for kids in Puerto Rico? #KCDATA11

    @nayda4prkids: Health indicators on this report are low birth weight babies, infant, child, & teen deaths, & teen births #KCDATA11

    @nayda4prkids: Another health concern is that PR still faces high rates of premature births which can lead more problems in the long run #KCDATA11

    @NCLR: Next q from @aecfkidscount: How well do U think the US poverty lvl measures economic stress for children in PR? #KCData11

    @nayda4prkids: More than half (57%) of the children in Puerto Rico live in poverty. This is almost three times the rate in the US #KCDATA11

    @NCLR: The next q comes from @Hepburnisms: Is any work being done by US & PR government to better these numbers/lives? #KCDATA11

    @nayda4prkids: We r thrilled teen birth rates have decreased & hope that this research helps US & PR gov direct resources to effective programs #KCDATA11

    @NCLR: Next q from @4aNewAmerica: why are PR #kids #poverty rates so high? #KCDATA11

    @nayda4prkids: It's hard to pinpoint the exact reason, but we know that more than 1/2 of PR's kids have parents who do not have full time jobs #KCDATA11

    @NCLR: Next q from @aecfkidscount: Does 57% child #poverty rate accurately portray child econ stress on PR? #KCDATA11

    @nayda4prkids: Yes, the poverty rate calculated by American Community Survey is the only available & reliable economic measure to date in PR. #KCDATA11

    @NCLR: Alright, folks. Thx to everyone who participated today & thx @nayda4prkids for joining. For more info, visit: http://ow.ly/6cQGP #KCDATA11

    @nayda4prkids: Thank you for your questions & interest to improve PR children's lives. #KCDATA11


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    David Castillo
    (202) 776-1771


    NCLR Recommends Measures to Close the Achievement Gap

    Washington, D.C.—The U.S. Department of Education recently released the “Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge” application, marking a $500 million investment to improve the quality of early learning programs for children across the country. NCLR (The National Council of La Raza) applauds this effort, but urges policymakers to address the significant barriers to preschool education for young Hispanics, which continue to place them at an academic disadvantage to their non-Hispanic counterparts. NCLR has released “Preschool Education: Delivering on the Promise for Latino Children,” which provides recommendations to ensure that young Latino children enter school on track for academic success.

    The report shows that in 2009, only 48 percent of Latino four-year-olds attended preschool, compared to 70 percent of White and 69 percent of Black children of the same age, putting Hispanic children at a disadvantage as they enter into elementary education. Today, one in every four children in the United States under the age of five is Hispanic, a growth rate that is predicted to continue multiplying in the coming decade. In states such as California, Hispanics make up more than half of all school children enrolled in public schools. While the population of Latino children in the school system has significantly increased, many of the schools educating our nation’s youngest students may still lag behind in developing quality measures that ensure they are addressing the needs of this culturally and linguistically diverse population.

    “Too little attention has been placed on the particular challenges facing young Latino children who are entering the school system,” said Erika Beltrán, author of the report and Senior Policy Analyst, Education and Children’s Policy Project at NCLR’s Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation. “Almost three-fifths of Latino children live in low-income families and more than one-third live in high-poverty neighborhoods and are likely to have fewer educational resources at home.

    “Compounding these challenges is the fact that almost two-fifths of students entering schools as English language learners are Hispanic, yet many preschools do not have mechanisms in place to measure language acquisition in either English or the child’s home language,” she added. “The momentum behind improving systems of early learning, as seen by the investment in the Early Learning Challenge, is encouraging, and we hope this report can inform implementation of this program.”

    The report recommends:
    • Requiring states to develop early learning guidelines that establish benchmarks for English-language development
    • Promoting professional development, training, and technical assistance for teachers to better understand second language acquisition
    • Support programs that promote meaningful parent engagement
    • Fund facilities development in communities where there are limited early learning programs

    View the complete report here.

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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Joseph Rendeiro
    jrendeiro@nclr.org
    (202) 776-1566


    Telephonic press conference examines the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

    Washington, D.C.—Earlier this summer, President Obama nominated former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to lead the recently opened Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the first federal entity solely devoted to fighting financial crime on behalf of Americans. The CFPB will be an especially crucial ally for Latino families who commonly are targets of fraud and deception through financial products such as mortgages, credit cards, money transfers, payday loans, and much more. However, until a director is appointed, the CFPB will not have the full authority to protect consumers from abusive financial products.

    NCLR will host a telephonic press conference on Thursday, September 1 with representatives from the Cuban American National Council, Americans for Financial Reform, and PICO United Florida to discuss the confirmation of Richard Cordray for the director of the CFPB. Speakers will look at Mr. Cordray’s qualifications for the position, the likelihood of his confirmation, the importance of the CFPB for Latino consumers and the need for the director position to be filled expeditiously.

     

    MEDIA ADVISORY

     

    WHO:      – Graciela Aponte, Senior Legislative Analyst, Wealth-Building Policy Project, NCLR
                   – Angelo Gonzalez, Program Director, Economic Independence, Cuban American National Council
                   – Lisa Donner, Director, Americans for Financial Reform
                   – Juan Pablo Chavez, Director of Organizing, PICO United Florida

    WHAT:    Confirming Cordray Telephonic Press Conference

    WHEN:   Thursday, September 1, 2011, 1:00 p.m. EDT

    HOW:     Call: 1-800-862-9098
                  Conference Title: Confirming Cordray
                  Conference ID: 7NCLR

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    By Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR

    America has always been a nation that prides itself on rising above adversity and beating the odds. But this Labor Day, more than two years since the end of the most punishing recession since the Great Depression, American families hoping to stay in the middle class are facing long odds.

    With one job opening for every four unemployed people, chances are if you’re out of work, you can’t find a job. With nearly 13 million families in danger of foreclosure and banks often not playing by the rules, too few Americans will be able to keep their homes. With the price of health care rising, too many Americans have skipped a checkup or gone without a prescription because they couldn’t afford it. If you’re Latino and in the middle class, it’s no secret that the odds that you will be able to remain there are tough. Latinos face an unemployment rate of 11% compared to 9% overall, a foreclosure rate of nearly 8% compared to White homeowners at 4.5%, and a poverty rate of 25% compared to 14% overall.

    In the not so distant past, it seemed that people who worked hard and played by the rules were rewarded. The Latino population in the U.S. was making significant strides toward joining the middle class. The Latino homeownership rate reached a historic high water mark in 2006 at 50% and jobs were plentiful, especially in entry-level construction work. But the fractures in the foundation were already visible—tell-tale signs that the deck was stacked.

    The economy has taken a significant toll on the labor, financial, and housing markets in the past few years. The impact on Latino families has been significant. Between 2005 and 2009, median household wealth among Latinos fell 66% compared with just 16% among White households, resulting in a nearly 17 to 1 wealth gap between Hispanic households ($6,325 in wealth) and White households ($113,149 in wealth). In 2009, Latino child poverty hit 33%, its highest rate since 1997. Given the fact that Latino children are tomorrow’s workers and taxpayers, this kind of backsliding not only threatens the possibility of a Latino middle class, but an American middle class as well.

    It is time to improve the odds, starting with policies to ensure that workers, homeowners, and families are rewarded fairly for working hard to pursue the American Dream. First, we need to modernize our labor laws and invest in our workforce to ensure that everyone who is able to work has the opportunity to do so with dignity and to move up in their careers. In the current environment, we need the public and private sectors to come together on a massive effort to get people back to work today rebuilding our roads and bridges, caring for our children and elders, and gaining new skills to meet our country’s energy challenges. Second, we need to restore fairness to the housing market, providing a real solution to the foreclosure crisis and providing realistic opportunities to become homeowners. Finally, we need to modernize our consumer protection system and hold the banks accountable for their actions that have hurt so many families and our economy.

    Poll after poll has shown that Latinos are optimistic about the future and their prospects for achieving the American Dream. We have a chance to move the country in a direction that is focused on creating opportunity and rewarding hard work. With these bold steps, we can recover lost progress and rebuild the Latino middle class. Our country’s future depends on our success.


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    PARA DIFUSIÓN INMEDIATA

    Contacto:
    Julián Teixeira
    (202) 776-1812

     

    ENTRE LOS PRESENTADORES FIGURAN JESSICA ALBA, MARÍA CELESTE ARRARAS, JAKE T. AUSTIN, BENJAMIN BRATT, MARÍA CANALS-BARRERA, COTE DE PABLO, DAVID HENRIE, EVA LA RUE, MARIO LÓPEZ, OSCAR NÚÑEZ, MICHAEL PEÑA, AUBREY PLAZA, Y NAYA RIVERA

    DEMI LOVATO HARÁ UNA INTERPRETACIÓN ESPECIAL, EN ESPAÑOL E INGLÉS, DE SU EXITOSO SOLO DE LA BALADA “SKYSCRAPER”

    SE ANUNCIARÁN EN BREVE OTRAS ACTUACIONES

    La cadena NBC transmitirá el programa en horario estelar, co-presentado por Eva Longoria y George López, el viernes 16 de septiembre de 8 a 9 PM EDT


    NEW YORK— Hoy fue revelado el reparto estelar de los premios ALMA® 2011 del NCLR (Consejo Nacional de La Raza). En ese evento se presentará a Jessica Alba, María Celeste Arrarás, Jake T. Austin, Benjamin Bratt, María Canals Barrera, Cote de Pablo, David Henrie, Eva la Rue, Mario López, Oscar Núñez, Michael Peña, Aubrey Plaza, y Naya Rivera. Asimismo se contará con la actuación en vivo de la cantante Demi Lovato. El programa de una hora será transmitido en NBC en horario estelar, el viernes 16 de septiembre de las 8:00 a las 9:00 PM tiempo estándar del este (EDT). Se anunciarán en breve otros presentadores y artistas.

    La entrega de los premios ALMA del NCLR está dedicada a honrar el espíritu y los logros de algunos de los latinos más prolíficos de la industria del entretenimiento, la música, la televisión y el cine. Los co-presentadores serán Eva Longoria y George López, y la transmisión televisiva honrará a los artistas que han mantenido y promovido una imagen socialmente proactiva de la cultura hispana en los medios de comunicación de hoy.

    Los ganadores de los premios ALMA se determinarán mediante la evaluación de los votos emitidos, la taquilla, Nielsen, y los rankings de la cartelera, y con el asesoramiento del Equipo de Liderazgo de Producción de los premios ALMA del NCLR. Las reglas de selección y elegibilidad están publicadas en www.almaawards.com. No todos los premios se entregarán durante el programa especial de la NBC, pero los espectadores podrán ver la entrega de los premios restantes durante el pre-show de televisión transmitido en línea a través de telemundo.com/almaawards.

    Todavía queda una semana para que los fans puedan votar por sus favoritos. Con el nuevo sistema de votación en línea, ahora tienen el poder para que sus estrellas, artistas musicales y programas favoritos reciban el reconocimiento y prestigio que se merecen. Además, con el concurso "Vote por VIP a su Manera", los fans que votaron tendrán la oportunidad de ganar una experiencia VIP para dos personas incluyendo pasajes aéreos, hotel, entradas VIP para el espectáculo, y una invitación para después de la fiesta VIP. Para votar, por favor visite www.almaawards.com.

    Los productores ejecutivos de los premios ALMA son Bob Bain, Eva Longoria, y Janet Murguía. NBCUniversal y su compañía matriz, Comcast, que ha colaborado con el NCLR a nivel nacional desde 2006, tienen un papel clave como socios creativos e inversores en la producción de la entrega de los premios. Además, PepsiCo es el patrocinador presentador de este año. Otros patrocinadores son Target, McDonald’s, State Farm, General Motors Corporation, Comcast, AT&T, Bank of America y Prudential.

    Fotografías de Eva Longoria, George López, y el logotipo del espectáculo están disponibles en NBC Media Village: www.nbcumv.com/mediavillage/networks/nbcentertainment/2011nclralmaawards/photos.

    Para utilizar las fotografías sin costo, por favor regístrese para acceder a Media Village. Haga clic en “Register”, esquina superior derecha, y siga las instrucciones.

    Promociones y EPK: Por favor utilice el enlace de abajo para acceder al EPK de los premios ALMA del NCLR.
    Eva Longoria & George López
    Metraje detrás de las bambalinas
    http://nbc.epk.tv/view/#/campaign/2011-nclr-alma-awards/

    Para información adicional, incluyendo el anuncio de los presentadores y artistas de la ceremonia de este año, por favor visite www.almaawards.com o siga el programa en Twitter en #almaawards. Para clips embebidos y episodios completos de los programas de NBC, por favor visite la página de NBC.com en su sección de programación oficial http://www.nbc.com/shows.


    CONTACTOS PARA LOS MEDIOS DE COMUNICACIÓN

    Para NBC:
    Sharon Pannozzo de NBC Entertainment Publicity, (212) 664-5152

    Para los premios ALMA del NCLR:
    Jennifer Price-Keith de The Lippin Group, (323) 965-1990, jprice@lippingroup.com
    Julián Teixeira, director de comunicaciones del NCLR, (202) 776-1812, jteixeira@nclr.org


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Julian Teixeira
    (202) 776-1812

     

    PRESENTERS INCLUDE JESSICA ALBA, MARIA CELESTE ARRARAS, JAKE T. AUSTIN, BENJAMIN BRATT, MARIA CANALS-BARRERA, COTE DE PABLO, DAVID HENRIE, EVA LA RUE, MARIO LOPEZ, OSCAR NUÑEZ, MICHAEL PEÑA, AUBREY PLAZA, AND NAYA RIVERA

    DEMI LOVATO TO PERFORM SPECIAL RENDITION OF HIT SINGLE “SKYSCRAPER” IN ENGLISH AND SPANISH

    OTHER PERFORMANCES TO BE ANNOUNCED SHORTLY

    NBC to televise prime time special, co-hosted by Eva Longoria and George Lopez, airing on Friday, September 16 from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. EDT

    NEW YORK—An all-star lineup for the 2011 NCLR (National Council of La Raza) ALMA Awards® was revealed today, which features Jessica Alba, Maria Celeste Arraras, Jake T. Austin, Benjamin Bratt, Maria Canals-Barrera, Cote de Pablo, David Henrie, Eva La Rue, Mario Lopez, Oscar Nuñez, Michael Peña, Aubrey Plaza, and Naya Rivera, as well as a live performance by Demi Lovato, for the one-hour prime time special airing Friday, September 16 from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. EDT on NBC. Additional presenters, performances, and talent will be announced shortly.

    The NCLR ALMA Awards show is dedicated to honoring the spirit and accomplishments of some of the most prolific Latinos in the entertainment industry, spanning music, television, and film. Co-hosted by Eva Longoria and George Lopez, the telecast will celebrate the entertainers who have upheld and promoted a socially proactive image of Hispanic culture in today’s media.

    Winners of the ALMA Awards will be determined by evaluating votes cast; box office, Nielsen, and Billboard rankings; and in consultation with the NCLR ALMA Awards Production Leadership Team. Selection rules and eligibility are posted at www.almaawards.com. Not all awards will be presented on-air during the NBC special; however, viewers can watch the remaining award presentations during the pre-show streamed online via http://telemundo.com/almaawards.

    There is still one week left for fans to vote for their favorites. With the new online voting system, fans have the power to see their favorite stars, musical performers, and shows receive the recognition and prestige that they deserve. Additionally, with the “Vote Your Way to VIP” contest, fans who cast their votes will get the chance to win a VIP experience for two including airfare, hotel, VIP tickets to the show, and an invitation to the VIP Post-Party. To vote, please go to www.almaawards.com.

    The executive producers of the ALMA Awards are Bob Bain, Eva Longoria, and Janet Murguía. NBCUniversal and its parent company, Comcast, which has had a national partnership with NCLR since 2006, play a key role as creative partners and investors in the production of the awards show. In addition, PepsiCo is this year’s Presenting Sponsor. Additional sponsors include Target, McDonald’s, State Farm, General Motors Company, Comcast, AT&T, Bank of America and Prudential.

    Photos with Eva Longoria, George Lopez, and the show logo are available at NBC Media Village: www.nbcumv.com/mediavillage/networks/nbcentertainment/2011nclralmaawards/photos.

    To use these photos at no cost, please register for a login on Media Village by clicking the “Register” tab in the top right corner and following the instructions.

    Promos and EPK: Please use the link below to access the EPK for the NCLR ALMA Awards.
    Eva Longoria & George Lopez
    Behind The Scenes Footage
    http://nbc.epk.tv/view/#/campaign/2011-nclr-alma-awards/

    For additional information, including announcements about the presenters and performers at this year’s ceremony, please visit www.almaawards.com or follow the show on Twitter at #almaawards. For embeddable clips and full episodes from NBC shows, please visit NBC.com’s official show site: www.nbc.com/shows.

    MEDIA CONTACTS

    For NBC:
    Sharon Pannozzo, NBC Entertainment Publicity, (212) 664-5152

    For the NCLR ALMA Awards:
    Jennifer Price-Keith, The Lippin Group, (323) 965-1990, jprice@lippingroup.com,
    or Julian Teixeira, Director of Communications, NCLR, (202) 776-1812, jteixeira@nclr.org

    NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit www.nclr.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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    For the Comer Bien blog series, NCLR has asked several of our partners and Affiliates to reflect on the issues raised by families in the video vignettes. Views and opinions expressed are those of the author and Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).

    By Jim Weill, President, Food Research and Action Center (FRAC)

    Geanette’s experiences, featured in this video vignette and NCLR’s story booklet, capture both the hard struggles of millions of Latino families and some of the smart program strategies that can make those struggles easier.

    The first struggle is with poverty and hunger. Latinos have below-average incomes despite high workforce participation rates. Lower wages mean poverty is more frequent. Many low-income Latinos face arbitrary barriers in getting help from public agencies. And, of course, poor or near-poor families are much more likely to struggle to put food on the table. Geanette’s juggling of her work, school, and parenting roles epitomizes how hard it is to “do it all” and keep our families’ heads above water. At FRAC’s website, you can view our Food Hardship Report 2010, where you can find the share of households with children in your state, metro area, or congressional district who report being unable to afford enough food at least some of the time. That means worse health and educational outcomes and more family stress.

    The second struggle is getting access to the right food at the right price. Low-income people in this country are more likely than others to live in “food deserts”—places without reasonable access to affordable, nutritious food. They have too few full-service grocery stores and are limited to small convenience stores with few healthy food choices. That means the residents wind up eating less healthy food, or paying more for food, or paying a lot in travel costs and time, as Geanette does, to get reasonably priced food. This just makes the money crunch and the time crunch worse.

    On the plus side of Geanette’s story, the SNAP program (it used to be called “food stamps”) helps her and more than 45 million other people—most of them in families with children—purchase a more adequate diet. Monthly SNAP benefits aren’t totally adequate, but they are a huge boost to the families getting them. They improve families’ diets, children’s health, and parents’ ability to pay for other costs (such as rent, utilities, and school fees) from modest earnings.

    Unfortunately, too many families don’t actually get SNAP—only about seven out of ten eligible people receive benefits. Others never apply because of language barriers, misplaced fears of consequences, or burdensome requirements like multiple welfare office visits. But many states and localities are taking important steps to fix these problems, and Geanette’s experience shows that multilingual applications and doing business over the phone or Internet rather than requiring office trips are huge steps forward. My organization, the Food Research and Action Center, is proud to be working with the National Council of La Raza to make policies like these happen across the country. Many important strategies for public agencies, community organizations, and advocates to make SNAP and other nutrition programs like WIC, school meals, and summer food programs more responsive to need are described in FRAC’s handbook, Smart Choices in Hard Times.

    Better wages and better SNAP systems solve some real problems. But people also need more access to healthy affordable food in their communities. And progress is being made there, too. The federal government and public-private partnerships in places like California and Pennsylvania are launching healthy food financing initiatives to support full-service grocery stores opening up or expanding in food deserts. These are good ideas, but in the end they will succeed only if Geanette and her child and all people in this country, in all communities, have adequate resources to purchase enough food and healthy food. And that means more jobs, better wages, and better public supports from programs like SNAP.

    To find out if you, a friend, family member, or neighbor is eligible for SNAP, use USDA’s pre-screening tool in English or Spanish.  


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    Throughout September, NCLR will be highlighting education and NCLR’s programs with our “Spotlight on Education Excellence.”

    Each week, we’ll bring you information about some of NCLR’s core education programs, as well as commentary on the state of education in the United States. We start this week with a look at the Common Core State Standards movement (CCSS), better known as “common standards.” This movement is a voluntary, state-led initiative designed to establish a clear set of educational standards for K-12 English language arts and math. You can read more about common standards here.
     

    Here is the reality: despite being a large and growing share of the U.S. student population, only 56% of Latino students graduate with a regular diploma, compared to 77% of their White peers. This stark disparity leaves a disproportionate number of Latinos unprepared for college and unqualified for good jobs. If things don’t change, Latinos will not have the same opportunities to buy a house, afford health insurance, or send their own kids to college. This is unacceptable—and changing it will require a bold, strategic, and concerted effort from our elected officials down to our grassroots advocates.

    NCLR recognized this need early on and quickly worked to highlight the benefits of common standards for the Latino community. Part of its work has included membership in Campaign for High School Equity (CHSE), a coalition of civil rights groups that are invested in improving education for all students, particularly for students of color.

    NCLR’s efforts also include the development of materials for advocates, parents, and education officials, all of whom are tasked with providing the very best education experience our children deserve. If the common standards movement was going to be successful, especially in the Latino community, we needed to do three things: provide ample and substantive education to communities about the benefits of common standards, turn those community members into advocates for the common standards movement, and create materials that those advocates could use when lobbying education decision makers.

    The first was achieved through a series of convenings held around the country, and in coordination with CHSE, as well as at the NCLR Annual Conferences. After we provided the education and achieved a subsequent buy-in, we quickly started working on two different documents that would help us meet our second and third goals. Last spring, NCLR unveiled Access to Common Standards for All: An Advocacy Tool Kit for Supporting Success. This tool kit was designed to help education reform champions build stronger, more effective strategies to ensure educational success for Latino and English Language Learner students and their families. It provides a step-by-step guide for grassroots reformers to develop an advocacy plan from start to finish and it also includes several resources to help support those efforts. The tool kit is a must-have guide for anybody interested in improving education in their own community. You can download a copy of the tool kit here.

    All of this work is moot, however, if state and local education officials never hear how we think common standards should be implemented. To that end, NCLR has developed a common standards implementation guide (currently in the design phase) which is aimed at local and state officials. Once our advocates have used the tool kit to create a robust and effective strategy, they will be ready to start lobbying on behalf of their community with the comprehensive implementation guide that local and state officials can use as they consider the best ways to implement common standards.

    Both the tool kit and the implementation guide are essential resources for the Latino community as we all work together to reform the American education system and make it—once again—the model for all education systems in the world. 


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Camila Gallardo
    (305) 573-7329 or cell: (305) 215-4259


    NCLR Legislative Director Raul González will present at panel discussion

     

    ORLANDO, Fla.—As the 2012 election nears, the issue of immigration reform will likely be a subject of intense debate. Several states throughout the nation, most notably Arizona and most recently Alabama, have passed controversial immigration measures that have severe civil rights implications. Several months ago, attempts to pass a similar bill in Florida failed; however, the federal government’s inability to pass a national reform bill will likely encourage proponents of the anti-immigrant bill to reignite their efforts during the next state legislative session.

    NCLR (National Council of La Raza), along with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), LatinoJustice PRLDEF, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and others, will participate in a panel discussion titled, “Florida at a Crossroads: Immigration Integration or Criminalization?” The panel will address how to overcome the obstacles that have led to the federal impasse on immigration in Congress. Panelists will discuss the status of state-sponsored immigration bills and their legality, the implications of state and local police involvement in enforcement, and how advocacy groups can form a collective response to anti-immigrant efforts. Discussion will also focus on how advocates can influence the national debate and how the state of Florida in particular can better integrate its immigrant population.

    MEDIA ADVISORY


    WHAT:                 Panel discussion: “Florida at a Crossroads: Immigration Integration or Criminalization?”
                               This event is free and open to the public.

    WHO:                  Raul González, Legislative Director, NCLR, as well as other distinguished panelists Keynote speaker: Randy Capps, Senior Policy Analyst, Migration Policy Institute

    WHEN:                Thursday, September 8, 2011
                               9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. EDT

                               (Mr. González will participate in the Immigration Integration plenary session panel from 10:00 a.m. to noon.)

    WHERE:             Barry University
                              Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law
                              6441 East Colonial Drive
                              Orlando, FL 32807
     

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    By Kara Ryan, Senior Research Analyst, Health Policy Project, NCLR

    On a visit to San Antonio, I sat in a living room with Velma, a retired chef and grandmother raising six grandsons who range in age from eight to 16. Velma had agreed to be interviewed as part of NCLR’s Comer Bien story and video collection project, which features Latino families sharing their experiences putting food on the table and highlights multiple factors that affect Hispanics’ access to nutritious food.

    Living on a fixed income, Velma must make her Social Security check last for four weeks—and this is no easy feat, especially if an unexpected expense arises or a utility bill is higher than she anticipated. Food takes up a large portion of Velma’s budget, something she has in common with many Hispanic families; thanks to lower household incomes, Latinos generally spend a larger proportion of their resources on food than do non-Hispanic Whites. She worries about being able to afford enough food to feed the entire family, especially toward the end of the month when her money is dwindling.

    As Velma talked, it became clear that she was one of the 13.3 million Hispanics living with food insecurity in the U.S., as estimated by a new USDA report and statistical supplement released today. More than one-quarter of all Latinos struggled with food insecurity in 2010. Rates of food insecurity in households with children, like Velma’s, were even higher; nearly one in three (30.6%) Hispanic families with children lived with food insecurity, compared to about one in seven (14.4%) non-Hispanic White families where kids were present.

    The data also show that nearly four million Latinos live in food insecurity with hunger (“very low food security”). That means that in these families, someone—usually a parent or caregiver—sometimes eats less than they should or goes to bed on an empty stomach. Indeed, Velma skips meals about twice per week in order to give the grandchildren her portion. “I always take care of the kids,” she told me. “If there’s some left over, I eat. If not, I’ll survive.”

    Despite families’ best efforts, Latino children—for the fourth year in a row—make up the largest share (40.8%) of the nearly one million kids living with hunger in this country.

    Failure to alleviate food insecurity within the Hispanic community—the fastest-growing segment of the child population—will have devastating effects on our future as a nation. Children living with food insecurity often experience nutritional deficits that lead to serious physical, mental, and behavioral health conditions, and may face an increased risk of child overweight and obesity.

    The new USDA numbers provide more evidence of a mounting problem that demands action. We need a comprehensive policy solution that takes into account the many social and economic factors—such as income, neighborhood safety, transportation, medical care, and access to federal nutrition programs—that affect Latinos’ food security. Sign up to receive health and nutrition updates from NCLR, and we’ll alert you about opportunities to weigh in with policymakers and take action to improve the food security and nutrition of Latino children and families.

    Find out more about Velma and other families’ experiences by downloading the story booklet, videos, and blog series at our web page, www.nclr.org/comerbien


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    Yesterday we featured a blog post that highlighted the tools that NCLR has created to help parents, educators, and advocates understand and implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Today we want bring to you the teachers who are currently doing the heavy lifting that is required for CCSS to work.  For today’s “Spotlight on Education Excellence” we talked to two teachers who have acted as trailblazers in the CCSS movement.

    Daniela Figueroa and Viviana Fimbres, teachers at Luz-Guerrero Early College High School, have been part of a two-year-long CCSS math pilot program. These two teachers were instrumental in helping NCLR and the rest of the education community understand how a curriculum based on the CCSS can be successfully implemented in the classroom. Their efforts were also the topic of a popular workshop session at the 2011 NCLR Annual Conference.

    Both Fimbres and Figueroa admitted to being nervous about embarking on this project. They are good teachers who have always taken pride in their instruction capabilities. The prospect of this new curriculum was daunting, but they were up for the challenge.

    A crucial feature of the CCSS curriculum is more engagement on the part of the students. The two teachers talked extensively about how this element of student engagement has changed the way they approach teaching now, as well as describing how rewarding it has been.

    “CCSS has changed the way we present new information to students. It’s forced us to be more creative in order to get them to think more creatively,” explained Figueroa. “When we present new information now, we’re finding that students are much more engaged.”

    Before the teachers implemented CCSS, their students were at best uninterested in the concepts they were learning and rarely able to independently articulate them. Figueroa and Fimbres had to learn how to get their students to come up with math concepts by themselves—something that is not easy to do. One feature of the CCSS curriculum is starting students from what they already know rather than teaching them foreign concepts of which they have no prior understanding. Lessons that started from a point of little understanding usually frustrated students into being uninterested. But now, while the material is certainly challenging, Figueroa and Fimbres have managed to get near 100% involvement in math projects.

    “The energy is really amazing in the classroom now. Students love the way the lessons are set up, and they are more excited about their work. You can really see how proud of themselves they are now,” said Fimbres. “Teaching variables, for example, can be a very abstract lesson to teach, but just today they were using variables without even knowing it!”

    Of course, the pilot program has not been without real challenges.

    “Some of the lessons are difficult for the ELL students, because some of the lessons include language skills,” says Figueroa. “Implementing CCSS—and building instructional materials—needs to be responsive to ELL students, because it’s been a challenge to create a cohesive instructional unit.”

    Another challenge, the teachers say, is getting the students to explain their reasoning. They cite time as a major factor, because giving everyone the opportunity to participate requires a lot of classroom management, which can be difficult for overcrowded schools.

    “The students we teach are used to the teachers being the leaders,” says Figueroa. “It’s important that students understand that they will have to be more engaged, that there is no alternative.

    Both teachers add that their students felt comfortable after a while, basically after they got used to the new model of teaching. They credit a combination of experience—the pilot is now in its second year—training, and collaboration with other teachers.

    After talking with Figueroa and Fimbres, we could see that implementing CCSS has changed their perception of the power of teaching and their outlook on the profession in general. They are truly excited about the promise that CCSS holds for revolutionizing the American education system.

    As for advice to any teachers who will soon have to implement the CCSS curriculum, Figueroa and Fimbres say, “don’t give up!”

    “It’s a challenge, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll see the difference. It will take a lot of perseverance, a lot of planning, and a lot of talking with other teachers. No matter what, have faith in the program and have faith that this kind of teaching will give your students the kind of skills they need to solve any math problem. It has been amazing journey for us and we are better teachers for it.”
     


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Joseph Rendeiro
    (202) 776-1566
    jrendeiro@nclr.org


    NCLR lays out additional steps needed to put Americans back to work

    Washington, D.C.—Calling President Obama’s speech on jobs a “welcome and necessary charge to Congress to tackle the unemployment crisis head on,” Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR (National Council of La Raza), urged leaders in Washington to enact policies that will directly create jobs in communities that are still reeling from the economic downturn.

    “Working families with money in their pockets are the true economic stimulators,” Murguía said. “More than 11 million Americans—including 2.6 million Latinos—want the chance to provide for their families, give back to their communities, and help get our economy back on track. By providing good-paying jobs, they’ll generate the demand for goods and services that will allow businesses to grow and to create new employment opportunities.”

    “Government simply cannot stand on the sidelines when so many are denied a chance at the American Dream,” added Murguía. “It’s clear that tax cuts alone have not generated new jobs, and it’s even more apparent that budget cuts have resulted in job losses. We commend President Obama for laying out the need for more aggressive policy action to stimulate job creation.”

    President Obama outlined several measures that NCLR believes could help provide jobs and relief to the unemployed in the short term. Specifically, the president’s plan to put people to work on rehabilitating foreclosed properties in areas deeply affected by the foreclosure crisis is a concept that NCLR strongly supports.

    NCLR also believes that additional investments targeting distressed communities are required to improve the economic security of Latino families in the long term, including:

    Tax credits aimed at boosting the paychecks of low- and middle-income workers, along the lines of the Making Work Pay Credit.
    An extension of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to 2009 levels to help jobless adults feed their families and help low-income families with working adults have more generous work support.
    An infusion of resources for nonprofit community-based organizations to train low-skilled and limited-English-proficient workers for 21st-century jobs in renewable energy, health care, and other growing industries.
    Increased capacity for the U.S. Department of Labor to enforce basic laws that protect workers’ earnings and their right to a safe and healthy workplace. NCLR research has documented Latinos’ contributions to job growth in several low-wage industries where violations of basic worker protections are increasingly common.

    “The president’s speech outlines some critical and achievable first steps toward reversing the economic crisis he inherited,” Murguía said. “But given the magnitude of the problem, especially among those who have been hardest hit by the downturn, such as Latino families, we agree with the vast majority of economists who believe that more aggressive and sustained action will be required to create jobs for the growing American workforce. We are committed to fighting for such policies in the coming weeks and months.”

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    By Delia Pompa, Senior Vice President of Programs, NCLR

    Success in education is necessary for upward socioeconomic mobility. However, not every student has an opportunity to access higher education. In particular, Latino and English language learner (ELL) students—large and growing populations in the U.S. school system—tend to graduate from high school without the skills and knowledge necessary to meet the demands of college and a globally competitive workforce. Currently, only 56% of Latino students graduate from high school on time with a regular diploma, compared to 77% of their White peers. This record undercuts the increasing demand in the United States for highly educated and trained individuals who can compete in the global economy.

    Notably, a significant portion (40%) of Latino schoolchildren are also ELL students. While ELLs constitute a little more than ten percent of the nation’s total public school population, ELL student enrollment has increased at nearly seven times the rate of total student enrollment.

    The economic consequences of denying today’s students the adequate preparation to be tomorrow’s workforce can be devastating for both the nation and local communities. For example, if half of the Latino students who dropped out of school in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas metropolitan area would have graduated in 2008, this graduating class would have contributed an additional annual combined income of $92.8 million. These additional educated workers would have likely produced an increase of $67.5 million in spending and $25.3 million in investment during an average year. Nationally, if half of the Latino students who dropped out in 2008 would have graduated, they would have earned an additional $1.3 billion of combined income and pumped $931.7 million into the nation’s economy through spending and additional $325.2 million in investments!

    The large and growing overall Latino student population and the subset of ELLs, are effectively changing the face of the American student body and could have a significant economic impact. Our nation’s educational systems must respond to this challenge with intentional, robust policies, practices, and supports for all children to succeed. For example, ELLs often lack access to rigorous curricula, appropriate assessments, and effective teachers who are equipped with the tools and resources to teach ELLs. The alignment of high-quality state assessments to high content standards is critical for measuring the true academic achievement of ELLs, who must simultaneously learn academic content and English.

    The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative represents an opportunity for Latinos, a large and growing share of the U.S. student population who are disproportionately affected by low standards. If implemented appropriately, CCSS will ensure that historically underserved students are taught to high standards that will prepare them for college and careers. Adopting CCSS is move toward delivering a high-quality education to our Latino students, regardless of where they live.

    In the push to adopt CCSS, parents, communities, and neighborhood representatives play a role in shaping effective implementation of the standards. These important stakeholders must speak out for their communities in the implementation discussions, to make sure that the resulting policy drives better outcomes for all students.

    Grassroots efforts around the country are raising awareness and promoting action around CCSS among communities of color. Organizations like the California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE), the Urban League of Philadelphia, and the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia are working with parents, students, and neighborhood representatives to effectively and fairly implement CCSS. And national organizations like NCLR and the Campaign for High School Equity (CHSE) are promoting civil rights and education reform in Washington, DC, and throughout the country, including partnerships with national CCSS implementers to bring the voices of communities of color to the process of designing, adopting, and using these revolutionary new standards. Stanford University is currently creating English language proficiency (ELP) standards aligned to CCSS that will outline what ELLs should know and be able to do in the academic content areas at different English proficiency levels. The development and alignment of ELP standards promise to properly support ELLs at varying grade and proficiency levels.

    Latino and ELL academic success is critical to the strength of the U.S. economy as these students represent a large and growing share of the U.S. student population and future workforce. Implementing high standards and holding the school system accountable for meeting those standards is essential to bring about critical improvements in the school system for these students.
     


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