First Latino DACA Colombia Grad receives Rhodes Scholarship
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Santiago Potes Colombia Blue Shirt

By Anna Sokiran

Santiago Potes just became the first Latino DACA recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship, an international postgraduate award for students to study at the University of Oxford.

He is one of almost 790,000 undocumented immigrants (also known as “Dreamers”) protected under the federal government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. He was 4 years old when he came to the United States from Colombia. His parents had him when they were 16. And they left their home in Colombia, hoping for a better future for their son after the Revolutionary Armed Forces                                                                                                                  of Colombia killed Santiago’s grandparents.

Photo credit Esta Pratt-Kielley, NBC News

Today, Santiago Tobar Potes is a Colombia University Graduate, class of 2020, who is about to pursue a Master of Studies in global and imperial history to analyze the relationship between aesthetics and law in Deng Xiaoping’s China at Oxford. In addition to Santiago’s academic success and being a first-generation college student, he is an accomplished violinist and fluent in nine languages, including Chinese. Santiago thanked his elementary school teacher Esteva, who is herself an immigrant and a Cuban refugee. “My parents didn’t go to college. My parents had me when they were 16 years old. So, she really became kind of like my first mother figure actually. She went out of her way to teach me a rigorous education.”

The Rhodes Trust wrote, announcing Santiago the first recipient of the scholarship, “Santiago has been a teaching or research assistant for leading professors in physics, philosophy, social psychology, and neuroscience, and won numerous college prizes for leadership as well as academic performance. He is widely published on legal issues relating to DACA status, was one of the DACA recipients featured in a brief filed with the Supreme Court to preserve DACA.”

Latina educator makes history as 2021 National Teacher of the Year
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Latina Teacher Juliana Urtubey in a class at Kermit R Booker Sr Elementary School Wednesday, May 5, 2021, in Las Vegas.

By The Associated Press, NBC News

The coronavirus pandemic forced students out of the classroom and starkly revealed how learning difficulties, distractions and challenging home dynamics can make it tough to adhere to a rigid curriculum. In a year with so much loss, a silver lining is that educators are embracing a flexible approach that meets students where they are, said Juliana Urtubey, the newly named 2021 National Teacher of the Year.

“We, as teachers, are much more open to this self-paced learning, this flipped classroom, which has been an invitation for students who think and learn differently,” Urtubey said. The Council of Chief State School Officers recognized the Las Vegas special education teacher with the award Thursday.

“Juliana Urtubey exemplifies the dedication, creativity and heart teachers bring to their students and communities,” council CEO Carissa Moffat Miller said. The council said she is the first Latino recipient since 2005 and the first Nevada teacher to win the award.

First lady Jill Biden, who was in Las Vegas as part of a three-state swing through the U.S. West, congratulated Urtubey during a surprise visit to her classroom Thursday. “CBS This Morning” aired video of Urtubey appearing shocked when Biden, also an educator, walked into the classroom and handed her flowers.

“She is just the epitome of a great teacher, a great educator,” Biden said as she sat for an interview with Urtubey.

Urtubey, who has been an educator for 11 years, works with elementary school students, individualizing lessons to match their academic, emotional and behavioral needs. That can put her everywhere in a school, from spending hours with struggling pre-K students to helping a fifth-grader with science class and strategizing with teachers on how to work with their special-needs students.

She said her approach is to think about a child holistically — taking into account their interests, hobbies, family structure and community — and using that to understand what they will need and how to find their strengths.

“There’s always strengths to find, and so once you find those strengths, you start there,” Urtubey said.

She said she learned early in life the value of an education that takes a child’s background into consideration. She moved to the U.S. from Colombia as a young child and spent part of her early education in a bilingual magnet school before her family moved and couldn’t find a similar school nearby.

Urtubey said it hammered home the importance of a school “that really knows how to nurture and uplift” a student in a way that takes their identity into account.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

IOScholarships Provides Free Access to STEM Scholarships
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Graduation mortar board cap on one hundred dollar bills concept for the cost of a college and university education loans

IOScholarships (IOS), the first of its kind scholarship and financial education platform for minority STEM students recently announced the launch of its search engine website. The technology has been designed with a streamlined user-friendly interface that offers great functionality to help high school, undergraduate and graduate students find STEM scholarships.

IOScholarships proprietary matching algorithm can match students with life-changing scholarships where their diverse background is valued.

Continual increases in tuition and fees have pushed the cost of college education beyond the means of most minority and underrepresented students. Even though STEM occupations have outpaced all other job growth, African Americans represent only 9% of STEM workers, while Hispanics comprise only 7% of all STEM workers.

“IOScholarships was inspired by my own experience as I was very fortunate to access scholarships to attend prestigious universities and realized that more could be done to support minority students especially now as STEM education becomes more and more important to workforce opportunities,” said María Fernanda Trochimezuk, Founder of IOScholarships. “Students should think about finding scholarships like it’s a part time job.”

The majority of the scholarships featured on the IOScholarships website come directly from corporations and organizations, rather than solely from competitive national pools – thereby maximizing the number of opportunities students have to earn funding for their education. Each month IOScholarships adds hundreds of new curated scholarships to its database and also posts “The Scholarship of the Week” on its Twitter, Facebook and Instagram social media accounts (@IOScholarships), making it easy to find new scholarship opportunities.

IOSSCholarships promo poster with diverse students in the background

In addition to providing scholarships, the new IOScholarships website introduces a free scholarship organizer, news articles designed to provide guidance on how to apply for scholarships, and money saving tips. The platform also offers a Career Aptitude Quiz designed to help students identify the degrees and professions that best fit their skills.

For more information about IOScholarships visit www.ioscholarships.com or for weekly STEM scholarships email maria.fernanda@ioscholarships.com.

Can this Latina law professor tapped by Biden help reform the Supreme Court?
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Cristina M. Rodriguez, a professor at Yale Law School, will co-chair a commission examining the Supreme Cour

By Raul A. Reyes

Cristina M. Rodríguez, a professor at the Yale Law School and co-chair of President Joe Biden’s high court commission, is described as a sophisticated legal thinker.

A Latina law school professor has been tasked with examining the future of one of the country’s three branches of government.

President Joe Biden has signed an executive order creating a presidential commission to study whether the Supreme Court should be overhauled, and he has named Yale Law School professor Cristina M. Rodríguez as its co-chair. Rodríguez and Bob Bauer, a professor at the New York University School of Law, will head the bipartisan commission to examine arguments both for and against a reform.

PHOTO: NBC

Rodríguez’s appointment to the commission earned praised from colleagues. “Cristina Rodríguez is absolutely up for this task. She is a sophisticated legal thinker and a good leader,” Kevin R. Johnson, dean of the University of California, Davis, School of Law, told NBC News. “I think that Biden has great confidence in her, and that his administration wanted somebody who would get the job done well, and in a deliberate and inclusive way.”

Along with Bauer, Rodríguez will preside over the commission that will study topics such as length of service, turnover of justices, membership and case selection. The commission includes some of the nation’s best-known legal scholars and experts: Laurence H. Tribe of the Harvard Law School, Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, and Andrew Crespo, also of the Harvard Law School. Crespo, who is of Puerto Rican heritage, was the first Latino president of the Harvard Law Review.

“She (Rodríguez) is not overly ideological or doctrinaire,” Johnson said. “She is someone who will make sure that we don’t see a politicization of the commission. As co-chair, she will bring a level of calm and thoughtfulness to any discussion she is involved in.”

Rodríguez, whose father is from Cuba and her mother from Puerto Rico, grew up in a bilingual household in San Antonio and attended Yale College and the Yale Law School. She studied at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, as well.  She became Yale Law’s first tenured Hispanic faculty member in 2013. Prior to that, she served for two years as the deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice, and also clerked for then-Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Rodríguez’s legal background and training make her a member of an elite group. According to a 2018 report by the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), Latinas comprised less than 2 percent of U.S. lawyers, and just 1.3 percent of law professors.

Rodríguez is well-suited for her new role, according to Elia Diaz-Yaeger, national president of the HNBA. “It is a huge job, and it is important to have someone from outside of the political arena,” she said. “Rodríguez is a scholar of the law, she analyzes verbiage and what the Constitution says, and her work has focused on constitutional theory and administrative law.”

Diaz-Yaeger said that she was excited to see the diverse perspectives and backgrounds represented on the commission. In her view, discussions about Supreme Court reform or restructuring could be constructive. “The size of the court has actually fluctuated throughout history – and we want the court to be representative of the people whose lives their decisions are affecting.”

Limited polling suggests that Latinos may be open to the idea of Supreme Court reform. A 2019 Quinnipiac poll found that 63 percent of Hispanics believed that the Supreme Court was mainly motivated by politics, and 61 percent of Hispanics said that it should be restructured to reduce the influence of politics. And this was before the rushed confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett in 2020 made the issue of reform even more contentious.

 

‘Learning Pods’ Taking Root in Black, Latino Neighborhoods
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Black boy and a teacher drawing wearing masks

New community collaborative offers a free service to fill an education gap exacerbated by the pandemic.

When school buildings abruptly closed last spring, many wealthy families quickly pooled their resources to pay for private teachers, academic coaches, and art instructors to supplement their children’s at-home schooling in small groups, or “learning pods.”

But most low-income parents, like Luisanna Amaya of South Boston, were faced with the impossible task of juggling work with the needs of young children trying to learn online.

Her 5-year-old son Jahdian had trouble sitting still and struggled to use the online platform where his teacher at Russell Elementary School put his assignments. He also needed help recording himself sounding out syllables, counting, and taking pictures of words he had been practicing.

Amaya had to help him and his 7-year-old brother, Osmany, while doing her own work as an assistant property manager at the Villa Victoria housing development in the South End.“When I say they were failing, I am not exaggerating,” Amaya said. “

If they got nine assignments, they only got to one.” Amaya eventually signed her sons up in a learning pod for low-income families. Almost immediately things improved.

The boys’ learning pod, in the gleaming basement of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End, is one of more than a dozen free pods opened in the fall by Community Learning Collaborative, a fusion of four organizations run by Black and Latino nonprofit leaders serving primarily low-income Black and Latino children.

Read the full article at Boston Globe.

New Content Further Enables Public Libraries to Collaborate with Parents and Local Schools
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Sesame Street character smiling with animated background

According to a soon-to-be released Kanopy survey of more than 730 librarians — primarily in the U.S. –50% of public libraries believe it is their responsibility to provide their local K-12 schools with streaming films that support their curriculum.

Despite that, just over 14% say they are currently collaborating with local schools to help meet their needs.

To help facilitate collaboration between public libraries and the communities they serve, Kanopy is adding a dozen Spanish-language videos from Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street,and 30 films from Highlights to Kanopy Kids. This carefully curated collection now includes a growing selection of more than 1,500 educational, age appropriate videos with parental controls covering topics from STEM to history and story time.

“Parents, educators and librarians know that having access to quality content is important,” said Darryl Eschete, Director of the West Des Moines Public Library. “The educational and instructional films that Kanopy offers helps our library make sure that we meet the strategic goal of supporting education and making content appropriate to all grade levels accessible wherever our patrons are.”

Licensed by libraries and free to kids, families and anyone with a public library card, the new selection of Spanish-language videos from Sesame Workshop include Listos a Jugar, a series designed to help children cultivate healthy habits, starring Elmo and friends as they “eat healthy, move, and play!” Sample titles in the series include:

  • Listos a jugar: A que jugaban papa y mama
  • Listos a jugar: Bañarse
  • Listos a jugar: El plato de Elmo no tiene verde

Covering topics such as imagination, bonding with family, and adventure stories, the new collections of videos from Highlights include:

  • Did You Know? series
  • Animal Adventures
  • Ready, Set, Snow!
  • Imagine That!

“In light of the pandemic, it is now more important than ever to help budget-strapped schools provide the online educational resources that students need to learn remotely,” says Kanopy CEO Kevin Sayar. “We are proud to partner with public libraries and important creators  like Sesame Workshop and Highlights to bring educational, thought inspiring films to children, parents and teachers around the globe.”

About Highlights

For over 70 years, Highlights has been dedicated to bringing Fun with a Purpose! This video collection by Highlights is built to foster curiosity, creativity, confidence and caring. Highlights has helped children become their best selves for generations by creating experiences that engage, delight, and foster joyful learning.

About Kanopy
Kanopy is a premium, free-to-the-user streaming platform available through universities and libraries. Through partnerships with iconic film companies such as A24, Criterion Collection, Paramount, PBS and Kino Lorber, amongst others, Kanopy’s critically-acclaimed catalog provides thousands of the world’s finest documentaries, award-winning titles, must-see classics, world cinema, contemporary favorites and kids programming to public library members, and students and professors at participating institutions, funded through state-aided supplementary programs and tuition. The Kanopy app is available on all major streaming devices, including Apple TV, iOS, Android, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and Roku. For more information, please visit www.kanopy.com.

About Sesame Workshop

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, the pioneering television show that has been reaching and teaching children since 1969. Today, Sesame Workshop is an innovative force for change, with a mission to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. We’re present in more than 150 countries, serving vulnerable children through a wide range of media, formal education, and philanthropically funded social impact programs, each grounded in rigorous research and tailored to the needs and cultures of the communities we serve. For more information, please visit www.sesameworkshop.org

Families sue California, say state fails to educate low-income students of color amid pandemic
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Low-income students were not provided devices and internet connections to attend online classes, according to the lawsuit.

Families of 15 public school students sued California on Monday, claiming the state has failed to provide equal education to poor and minority children during the pandemic.

The impoverished students, who range from kindergarten to high school and were only identified by the first name in court documents, were not provided devices and internet connections to attend online classes, according to the lawsuit, the first of its kind in the United States.

 Image Credit – NBC News

The children attend schools in Oakland and Los Angeles, and many were described as Blacks and Latinos. The lawsuit also claims that schools did not meet academic and mental health support needs, English language barriers, and the unmet needs of homeless students.

The suit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, is asking the court to declare that California education officials have violated the state constitution’s guarantee of educational equality and order them to fix the alleged inequities.

Read the full article on NBC News

School of Rock owners around the world are making an impact in their communities
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group of diverse music students in school playing guitars and drums

School of Rock owners around the world are making an impact in their communities through the power of music education. And you can too.

You may already know School of Rock from the movie, but we’re so much more. We’re innovators in the world of music education.

We understand what it takes to inspire kids, change lives, and help you succeed as a music school.

Recognized by Entrepreneur, Forbes and Franchise Business Review as one of the top franchises in the world, School of Rock enables you to mix business with pleasure by owning a rock and roll hub in your city.

You’ll be able to offer structure, guidance, education and entertainment to the lives of children and adults through the power of music. And you will own a successful business on top of it all.

Become a School of Rock owner and experience our unique franchising approach.

Find out more here.

Eduardo M. Peñalver, from ‘first’ Latino law school dean to ‘first’ Latino college president
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Eduardo M. Peñalver

Growing up in Washington state, Eduardo M. Peñalver dreamed of exploring the skies and space. Longing to be an astronaut, he was a diligent student and in high school secured the nomination from his state’s senator needed to attend the Air Force Academy. But NASA was not in his future.

“I was preparing for my physical when I decided that this process was not the right path for me,“ Peñalver recalled. “Something didn’t feel right, so I changed direction and applied to Cornell to study history. I ended up far from astronaut training.”

That change in direction has led to some historic “firsts.”

Peñalver, 47, was the first Latino dean of Cornell Law School, and he has now been named president of Seattle University, the first Latino and first layperson to head the Jesuit institution since it was founded in 1891. He begins next July.

For Peñalver, who is of Cuban heritage, his appointment as a university president is the latest step in a distinguished academic and legal career. He has been a Rhodes Scholar, a professor of law who clerked for Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, and the dean of Cornell University’s Law School.

“This is uncharted territory, but we are all doing the best we can,” Peñalver said of taking over during the pandemic. “As educators, we are all hopeful for a vaccine and hopeful that things can begin to get back to normal by next summer.”

Seattle University has approximately 7,000 students, with an undergraduate population that is about 12 percent Hispanic.

Nicole Piasecki, chair of the Seattle University Board of Trustees, said that the selection of Peñalver was “as enthusiastic as it as unanimous.” She praised him in a statement as “an innovative thinker” who is “passionate about the power of the university to make the world a better place.”

Peñalver credits his success, in part, to mentors, including the Stevens (“a kindred spirit”) and former Yale Law Dean Guido Calabresi. “I tell my students that your mentors do not have to look exactly like you. It is about their openness and interest in you,” he said. “For people of color in settings where there are not many of us, many mentors have to be different from us.”

Few Latino College Presidents

Throughout his career, Peñalver said he has been used to being ”the first or the only” Latino. “I have always been aware of that reality; I’ve felt the responsibility to ‘represent’ so to speak. It has always been important to me to do my best, to represent our community well, so that there would be others.”

Recent studies and census data show that the number of Latino college students has been growing, and about 19 percent of U.S. college students are Latino. But in 2016, only 4 percent of college and university presidents were Latino, a figure that has not changed since 2001, according to the American Council on Education.

“The number of Latino college and university presidents has definitely not been rising proportionately to the growth in Latino students,” said Deborah Santiago, chief executive of Excelencia in Education. “But we have seen some appointments of Latinos to larger institutions and systems.” As examples, Santiago pointed to Felix Matos Rodriguez, chancellor of the City University of New York; Joseph Castro, chancellor of the California State University system; and Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of the California Community Colleges.

Continue to NBC News to read the full article.

Photo Credit: Lawschool.cornell.edu 

NASA astronaut has a message for Latinx STEM students: ‘We need you’
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Astronaut Ellen Ochoa training with NASA

By Penelope Lopez of ABC 

Astronaut Ellen Ochoa has a message for the next generation of Latinx students who are aspiring to work in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields: “We need you.”

“We need your minds. We need your creativity,” she told ABC News.

Ochoa, a first generation Mexican-American, made history in the Latinx community as NASA’s first Hispanic astronaut. She took her first space flight aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1993. She was also the first Hispanic director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center and spent nearly 1,000 hours in space during four shuttle missions.

As the chair of the National Science Board, Ochoa is constantly championing a more inclusive work environment.

“Look at the demographics of our country. They are changing … we have to involve the people in our country. And increasingly, of course, that is people of some kind of Latino or Hispanic heritage,” she said.

For young Latinx students, working in the STEM fields is no longer something out of reach.

“STEM fields offer a unique opportunity to change the world, one person at a time,” said India Carranza, a first generation Puerto Rican and Salvadorian high school junior who aspires to be a physiotherapist. “And being able to help people through their paths and different journeys is one of the unique opportunities of the STEM field.”

Today, Latinx individuals make up nearly 20% of the U.S population and yet just 7% of the STEM workforce.

Continue to ABC News to read the full article 

For first time, heads of all California’s public education systems are Black or Latino
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Headshot of Joseph Castro

California is the most diverse state in the nation, so having a diverse leadership of its schools and colleges shouldn’t be that notable.

But it is. Even for California.

This January when Joseph Castro, a Mexican-American and native Californian, becomes chancellor of the 23-campus California State University system, for the first time, leaders of color will head up all four systems of public education in the state.

All will have an impact by being powerful role models for the millions of students, faculty and staff in the systems they lead.  A fundamental question, however, is whether the new leadership will translate into concrete changes that create more equitable institutions and contribute to improved education outcomes.

Leaders in the field think it is more likely that it will.

“Diversification of leadership is quite important and significant to meeting the goals of racial equity,” said Adrianna Kezar, director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California. “Certainly others are capable of such leadership, but the ability to speak from your heart and authentically about this issue and to have a vision for a direction forward is much more likely to happen with leaders of color.”

In addition to Castro, Dr. Michael Drake, who is African American, became president of the nine-campus University of California system in August. Eloy Ortiz Oakley, who is Latino, is chancellor of the 116 colleges that make up the California community colleges.

Then there is State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, who was elected in 2018 to oversee the state’s vast K-12 public education system. Of mixed African American and Panamanian background, he is only the second African American schools chief since the legendary Wilson Riles occupied the post for a dozen years until 1982. Out of 50 state schools chiefs, only one other is Black and a half dozen are Latinos or Latinas.

Together the four Californians — all of them men — oversee institutions with enrollments of nine million students, more than the enrollments in most countries.  Their student bodies are extraordinarily diverse, with white students comprising 26 percent or less of their enrollments, depending on the system.

If this new generation of leaders is able to improve the educational success of their students, they will have an outsize impact not only on California’s future, but on the nation as a whole. How they work together will also make a difference as the state attempts to create a more unified “cradle to career” system of education.

What’s also notable is that they are leading their institutions at a time of extraordinary activism and ferment around a range of issues related to racial equity. With that energy and momentum behind them, that could help them move forward on these issues within their institutions. It could also make running them more complicated.

Continue to EdSource to read the full article.

Photo Credit: California State University Press

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