WHEREAS, the Latino community faces a crisis in K-12 education;
WHEREAS, the demography of the United States is changing at an accelerated pace with one in five American children being Latino. Over the past 20 years, the number of Latino children under age 18 living in the United States has doubled, making them one of the fastest-growing segments of the national population;
WHEREAS, by 2035, one-third of all American children and youth will be Latino, and it is projected that by 2050, one-third of the overall population will be Hispanic;
WHEREAS, today's 16 million Latino children and youth -- 92 percent of whom are U.S. citizens -- represent a crucial segment of the United States' future workers, taxpayers, parents, citizens, voters, and leaders;
WHEREAS, according to the Pew Hispanic Center and Census, Latinos continue to have the highest dropout rate of any ethnic group, more than double the rate of African Americans and four times that of their white peers;
WHEREAS, while 92 percent of Latino children are citizens, 58 percent of them live with one or more foreign-born parents; as a result many Latino children are English Language Learners (ELL);
WHEREAS, U.S. Department of Education funded studies have shown that Latino children enter kindergarten well behind their non-Latino peers both in early literacy and numeracy skills, which manifests itself in slower development of skills essential to reading and mathematics development throughout their schooling;
WHEREAS, the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) provides a picture of school achievement in which Latino children consistently underperform relative to White non-Latino children in both reading and math;
WHEREAS, in 2005, the NAEP scores showed that 32 percent of Latino fourth graders and 48 percent of eighth graders scored below Basic in math, which is nearly double the number of non-Latinos and 54 percent of fourth grade and 44 percent of eighth grade Latino children scoring below Basic in reading , which is also nearly double the number of non-Latinos;
WHEREAS, the extent to which this gap in achievement is due to language issues becomes clear when comparing scores of ELL Latinos with non-ELL Latinos, where ELL Latinos test below Basic nearly double the rate of non-ELL Latinos;
WHEREAS, children who are ELL constitute nearly 12 percent of the total pre- kindergarten through grade 6 population in the U.S. and ELL children are heavily concentrated in the lower grades, with more than 44 percent of all ELL children in the national student population enrolled in prekindergarten through grade 3, thus comprising the largest group of English Language Learners in the entire U.S. student population.
WHEREAS, children who attended Head Start showed moderate gains over children who did not in some measures of school readiness, health status and how well their parents did such things as read to them.
WHEREAS, research has found that high-quality dual language education programs (those that do no decrease the level and quality of bilingual educational services and supportd for ELL children in favor of English dominant children) have promoted development in both languages rather than impeding growth in the first language, and fears that English acquisition will not occur if young ELL children are partially taught in their home language are unfounded.
WHEREAS, various dual language approaches have been developed as a means to increasing the achievement of ELL children such as Project LAMP, which is a research based program being developed by Hispanic education specialists with funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Ready to Learn program;
WHEREAS, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have voted to consolidate or eliminate funding for Head Start;
WHEREAS, these same Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have proposed eliminating funding for Ready to Learn, which is the primary program vehicle at the U.S. Department of Education to advance early childhood education initiatives and research; and
WHEREAS, the Administration and Congress are currently engaged in negotiations on education reform that could be expected to yield a “compromise” in the coming weeks or months.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that organizations represented by delegates of the 2011 National Latino Congreso
(1) Oppose any Congressional efforts to consolidate, eliminate or reduce both the authorization and funding for those early childhood education programs that are critically important to the Latino community, such as Early Headstart, Headstart, Migrant and Seasonal Headstart, Ready to Learn, and other related prenatal care support programs;
(2) Call on the Administration and Congress to strengthen the federal governments commitment to improving early literacy, numeracy, and English Language Proficiency Skills of poor and disadvantaged students, of which Latinos are disproportionately represented;
(3) Call for the Administration and Congress to address the critical shortage in the recruitment of qualified teachers to meet the demand for dual language learning environments;
(4) Call for the Administration and Congress to expand research and program offerings that seek to address the “whole child” needs of young poor and disadvantaged children and their families, such as increased access to nutrition, medical care, and quality pre-school education;
(5) Call for the Administration and Congress to recognize that the needs of poor and disadvantaged students and English Language Learners are integrally tied to their families and caregivers; and
(6) Call for the Administration and Congress to recognize that 21st century approaches to education must be adopted and promoted, including the utilization of trans-media approaches that utilize technology in the classroom.
(7) Call on Congress to impose a transaction fee of .25% on all OTC derivative market transactions to create a $1 billion fund to be used to fund proven parent training and parent engagement through technology programs in early childhood development.