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Latino education outcomes will determine Arizona’s outcome

6th Apr 2021

CPLC Action Fund will continue to team up with dedicated groups pushing for equity in education. One such group is ALL In Education, which is working for improved school districts on local and state levels. Stephanie Parra, who currently serves on the Governing Board of the Phoenix Union High School District, is the organization’s executive director.

Last week I joined other Latino leaders in a white-board session on priorities, tactics and strategies for the group to pursue. I attended the launch of ALL in Education (which stands for “Arizona Latino Leaders in Education”) in December 2019, and from Day One it was apparent this group would be a welcomed addition to the continued efforts at changing the outcomes for Latino students.

The change, of course, must occur across the board: elected and appointed offices, including local school boards and state education commissions; school administration and campuses, including superintendents, principals and teachers; and in expectations, including in classrooms, counselor offices and businesses board rooms and leadership.

One very influential business group stepping up to the plate is Greater Phoenix Leadership with its Latino Attainment Task Force, which is seeking to improve opportunities and outcomes for Latino students. I’m glad to contribute to the task force, as is David Adame, who is board chairman of CPLC Action Fund and also president and CEO of Chicanos Por La Causa.

As a member of the GPL Board and organizer of its Latino Attainment Task Force, Adame is leading the charge to change the narrative so that Latinos are (rightfully so) viewed as an attribute, not a deficit, to Arizona’s economy, workforce, leadership and future.

To do so, we must first forever bust the myths because the truth is – as the state’s changing demographics only underscore – as Latinos go, so goes Arizona. That’s because in order to economically compete regionally, nationally and internationally, Arizona must have a skilled and educated workforce. We must exchange the many barriers faced by Latino and lower-income communities to improved pathways for funding and new avenues for opportunity.

In its 2020-21 MAPA Report, ALL In Education highlighted the challenges we’re facing as a state:

  • Latinos make up the majority of Arizona’s K-12 student population, which represents 46% of the population), yet Latinos make up Latinos are only 13% of education/school board members and 16% of the teaching workforce in Arizona.
  • 76% of Latinos in Arizona graduate high school in four years (compared with 85% of white students). This means nearly a quarter of Latino students are not completing high school in that time frame or are dropping out of high school.
  • Only 30% of Latino Arizonans have completed a two- or four-year degree or received a postsecondary certificate, as a result, their quality of life and income are often diminished because of lower-paying jobs.

I invite you to view a video presentation and discussion by ALL In Education regarding Latino education and its MAPA report by clicking HERE.

There have been advancement over the years, and a few setbacks. For example, the pandemic has exposed and widened the already-existing inequities in education, including the Digital Divide affecting many Latino homes, underserved communities and rural areas that do not have high-speed internet or computer access.

We must double our efforts and recruit more leaders and partners in the cause. Nothing is more important to Arizona’s future than education, which I like to call “the Great Equalizer.” Unfortunately, education itself is anything but equal in terms of access, equity and opportunity.

Over the years, I have been involved in many education efforts, including the 2012 report, “Dropped? Latino Education and Arizona’s Economic Future,” when I was at ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy. Now as executive director of CPLC Action Fund, the work will continue to improve Latino educational attainment. Your support in this effort and all CPLC Action Fund endeavors is greatly appreciated.

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