Education Legislative Priorities
As the fastest growing, and one of the youngest demographic groups in the state, Minnesota’s economic competitiveness and socioeconomic outcomes depend in part on Latinos’ educational attainment. Progress has been made in closing the achievement and opportunity gaps that disproportionately impact Latinos, but much work remains to further narrow them. MCLA continues to focus its efforts on diversifying the teachers workforce. Since 2017, MCLA has worked in collaboration with multiple organizations to advance Increase Teachers of Color legislation. Various iterations of the bill over the years continue to promote system change to help close opportunity and achievement gaps by strengthening existing programs and proposing new efforts to attract, prepare, and retain an increased percentage of teachers of color and American Indian Teachers. Provisions also seek to establish a state goal and biennial accountability report.
- Learn more about the issue here : coming soon
- Contact : Katya Zepeda| Legislative and Policy Director | (651) 592-8537 |
Latino Education Legislative and Policy Focus Areas
In 2017, participants in community listening sessions and school educators, staff, and administrators revealed three major areas of focus for education needs of Latino communities:
1) Student support from teachers and staff
2) Student support by parents
3) Barriers to higher education and other opportunity gap issues.
Based on the findings of these stakeholder sessions and meetings, MCLA recommends the following in order to address these:
Maintain and increase public school funding and targeted funds : Greater aid for lower-income districts. Funding for equitable access to education can be addressed by protecting Compensatory funding, increasing Integration funding, and increasing General funding, including that for transportation.
Continue advocating for measures to increase teachers of color and American Indian teachers : Address the serious shortage of these teachers statewide. While the ideal is more bilingual, culturally-competent teachers, teachers that reflect their students’ backgrounds is a step in the right direction.
Advocate for greater cross-cultural competence and trauma-informed practice in educators, staff, and administration : Schools must be more aware of other cultures and experiences of immigrants, whether this is through ethnic studies, trauma and cross-cultural competence trainings, or changes at educator colleges and universities. This would address diversity, racism, and inclusion concerns.
Show support for cultural liaisons and community navigators : These key positions are pivotal to fill some of the gap from the deep teacher of color shortage in Minnesota and general shortage of culturally-aware, bilingual professionals in these communities. This practice is already working well and should be replicated with better pay, resources, and recognition for individuals doing this work.
Improve college access for Latino youth : While high school graduation rates have improved, access to college is still lacking. It can be increased through greater financial aid to help mitigate the cost of college, programming to advise high school students that is more intensive or one-to-one, and including parents in the process. The MN Dream Act should be protected and improved.
Address language needs of the Latino community : Providing interpreters for parents whose second language is English or translated documents would have a large impact on parental involvement at all levels. Also, opportunities for adults to learn English (and Spanish) should be introduced or expanded.
Advocate for more funding in the English Language Learners (ELL) programs : In addition to better funding, find solutions that will benefit ELL students. The increased focus on ELL students as a result of the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act is a step in the right direction. Continue to monitor state plan implementation efforts, including standardization of ELL program entrance and exit criteria.
Improve childcare and pre-kindergarten access : Continue to support Head Start, a key program for Latino families. Addressing the general lack of capacity to provide these services and high cost of pre-kindergarten alternatives are crucial to improve the Latino experience in early care and education.
Expand multigenerational approaches : It is clear that the student experience cannot be separated from family experience. We must continue to support multigenerational approaches to close generational poverty cycles and to narrow opportunity and educational achievement gaps.
View the complete report of findings and recommendations here.