Latino Education Summit August 6-7, 2014 Rice University - Grand Hall
The Dropout Epidemic in public schools of the Houston area and Texas is a symptom of a much greater problem. It is the end result of a public school system that is broken and in great need of reform. Additionally, as negative an impact as this problem has on individual and collective success, it has not risen to the top as a high priority. It seems that possible solutions are so complex that those in power prefer to examine other issues that perhaps could be resolved more easily by throwing money at it, creating some new pilot initiatives and letting it go at that. If that doesn't work, we start over. So much so that it has become a vicious cycle as we keep going round and round in circles. ALCREJ believes that if we want different results, we need to change what we do to make it happen. Everybody knows that!
In the Houston area, it was back in the '80's that a Latino Education Summit was held to address the many issues causing Latino youth to dropout and not be successful in the public school system. Another summit has not been held since. It was well intended and the one good thing that came out of it was the creation of the Houston Hispanic Forum which still exists today and holds an annual event to motivate and inform youth of the importance of an education and being prepared for the workforce and a productive life. I am very proud of our community leaders and educators who stepped up and attempted to change the landscape. Almost 30 years later, it appears that not much changed.
In reality, what have changed are the demographics of Houston and Harris County. Latino enrollment in the Houston ISD, for example, has more than doubled from approximately 25% to 62% or some 130,000 Latino students today, out of some 210,000. Other school districts in the area are experiencing the same demographic changes. And for better or worse, this trend is continuing and at some point before long, the Latino population of Houston/Harris County will become majority Latino. How good or how damaging this phenomenon will be to the area, will really depend on how accepting our diverse community will be and how well we educate this segment of the population.
The Latino Education Summit in August will be the catalyst for positive educational change in the public school system and will serve as a springboard for similar summits to be held in different parts of the City over the next two years. It is our expectation that surrounding school districts will embrace the idea that we can all do a better job of educating all children. The Summit will help us all be united in our understanding of the myriad of issues impacting public education today. We will understand where we have been, where we are today and where we
should be going. We are bringing together some of the best minds in the educational arena, the practitioners in the field, elected officials, and together we will begin the difficult work of making positive change happen.