Latino Education Policy Forum Held

Last Friday, October 5th, representatives from Evergreen attended a Latino Education Policy Forum held in SeaTac, WA. Specifically, the forum explored data and research-based policy proposals that may be presented to Washington’s Governor and legislature.

Dr. Edward Lee Vargas, Superintendent of the Kent School District, lead the K-12 conversation. Following Dr. Vargas Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction, Randy Dorn, spoke to the group on what is needed in the K-12 sector. Besides a fully-funded K-12 sector, Dr Vargas and Superintendent Dorn spoke about the changing demographics in the sector. Dorn noted this issue should be looked at more holistically, and include early learning and higher education. Finally, Dorn spoke to the fact undocumented students have difficulty financing higher education because they are not eligible for most loans, or the state need grant in Washington.

After the K-12 discussion, Dr Luis Fraga presented on issues affecting the Latino/a community in the higher education sector in Washington and nationally. Dr. Fraga, Associate Vice Provost at the University of Washington, spoke specifically on 3 big policy recommendations needed. Those are: 1) Financing higher education, specifically, fully funding the state need grant and extending it to undocumented students; 2) Enhancing academic competence, specifically, funding school district, community college and 4 year partnerships; and 3) Empowering Latino families, specifically, engaging entire families, not just the student.

Following Dr. Vargas, a legislative panel presented on their views to moving forward. Panelists included, Senator Rosemary McAuliffe (Chair, Senate Education committee), Representative Larry Seaquist (Chair. Higher Education committee), Representative Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney (Chair, Community & Economic Development &  Housing committee) and Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos (Chair, House Education committee). Among their recommendations, Representative Seaquist noted that we must not be slow to change in order to increase educational attainment for Latino/a students, and several panelists reiterated Superintendent Dorn’s position the K-12 sector must be fully funded.