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Report outlines disparities and challenges in 'state of Latino education' in Arizona

Posted at 5:02 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 20:54:34-05

PHOENIX — Arizona for Latino Leaders in Education, or ALL in Education, Wednesday released MAPA, a report outlining the state of Latino education in Arizona.

During a virtual summit, leaders talked about how years of policies have hurt Latino students, from lack of resources and funding, to inadequate representation.

"The data doesn't lie, the fact of the matter is Latino students are following behind and they have been for two decades," said Stephanie Parra, the executive director of ALL in Education.

Latino students make up 46% of Arizona's K-12 system.

"These are your future employees, your future business owners and entrepreneurs. It's absolutely critical that we provide them for the resources they need because we're going to need them in the future," said Monica Villalobos, the CEO of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce during the summit.

MAPA data shows Latinos are concentrated into lower-ranked schools, and there's a correlation between poverty and academic performance.

"More affluent communities are able to raise dollars and provide additional programming, retain quality educators, all of those things help our students thrive. Unfortunately for communities stuck in a cycle of poverty, we don't have some of the same opportunities afforded to them," said Parra.

The report said 16% of teachers and less than 13% of school board members are Latino, which is a massive gap in representation.

"We need to organize our people, we need to organize our ideas and money that we have in our communities," said Luis Avila, president of Iconico consulting firm.

ALL In Education wants to get families involved to identify future leaders. People to run for school boards, become teachers or principals.

They've created the Parent Educator Academy to help parents better support their kids. They're currently working with seven schools. Interested parents can apply online.

Irene Cervantes is part of that academy. The mother of five lives in south Phoenix and hopes her children will be the first in her family to go to college. Her four oldest go to Southwest Elementary in the Roosevelt School District. Though she loves the school, she's seen how Latinos in the community struggle with challenges, including language barriers, poverty, and lack of resources.

"Education for my kids is going to get them anywhere they want to go," said Cervantes.

She said she got involved in her children's education to make sure they have access to more opportunities than she had growing up in South Phoenix.

"Teaching me how to advocate for my kids. How to teach them how to read, how to do math, how to get involved." how to actually approach a teacher and ask them what they think your kid is capable of doing," she said.

ALL In Education has other programs for parents and community members. Learn more here.

Watch the virtual summit here.

Download the MAPA report here.