UnidosUS Education Summit Explores New Formula for Raising Latino Student Achievement

WASHINGTON, DC—At a policy forum today, UnidosUS called on state lawmakers and education leaders to discuss strategies to narrow opportunity and achievement gaps for underserved students and ensure they are on track for long-term college and career success. Advocates, policymakers and members of UnidosUS Affiliate Network gathered at Montecito Community School in Phoenix to examine the state of education for the nearly 700,000 Latino students and 100,000 English Learners (ELs) enrolled in Arizona’s public-school system.

State Senator-Elect Tony Navarrete (D-30) kicked off the day-long convening, which featured keynote remarks from Richard Carranza, Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education and Arizona’s newly elected State Superintendent, Kathy Hoffman. Earlier this year, Mr. Carranza was tapped to lead the nation’s largest school district after serving as a Superintendent in Houston and San Francisco. He discussed efforts to transform communities through multilingualism in schools. Ms. Hoffman, a champion of bilingual education, campaigned on the need for the state to reform its practice of segregating EL students.

During the event, policy experts weighed in on the importance of advancing education policies and practices that not only safeguard the progress of all students, but meet the unique needs of students of color, ELs and low-income students. A report, Educational Fairness and Latino Student Success in Arizona, authored by UnidosUS and released during the forum, spotlights the need for greater equity and the specific ways Arizona’s plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act and its accountability system work to the detriment of underserved students—and more importantly, to the detriment of the state’s economic growth.

“While Latino students make up the largest percentage of students in Arizona’s K-12 public schools, they continue to lag behind their White peers when it comes to academic achievement. These students will one day represent a sizable share of the state’s future workforce, so the conversations we are having today are not only timely but necessary. It is imperative that we continue to push for effective policies that ensure Latino students are set up for success and receive the high-quality education that they deserve. Together with our education allies, including the twelve Arizona Affiliates that form part of our network, I am confident that we can spur meaningful change in Arizona’s education system,” said Eric Rodriguez, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at UnidosUS.