Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Councilwoman Gonzalez Leads Latino Dropout Forum At Somos Conference in Albany

Councilwoman Sara M. González attended the Somos El Futuro Conference in Albany over the weekend and led an important legislative forum titled Keeping Our Future in Schools: Addressing the Latino Drop-Out Crisis.

The Councilwoman has watched as the annual conference has grown in stature, attendance and importance with each successive year.  The focus of the event is to create a platform for leaders throughout the Northeast to engage and discuss the challenges facing the Latino community.  The Hispanic Federation works to help organize the forums that help build capacity to work towards the development of policies, laws, state rules and regulations that address the needs and issues of Hispanics across the state.

The forum led by Councilwoman González addressed the dropout rate as a glaring example of how our public education system is failing to serve Latino children.  “Not only do Latino youth have much higher dropout rates than other students, but they tend to drop out earlier than other groups,” the Councilwoman explained.  Panelists provided information on the graduation rate crisis and highlighted actions that need to be taken to increase Latino high school completion.  The Councilwoman led a wide-ranging discussion that included policy changes that would ensure an equitable and more supportive learning environment and program initiatives that promote increased parental and community involvement.

“For me, this crisis highlights the vital need for early intervention,” the Councilwoman said.  She offered concrete examples of how she fought for programs and funding through the City Council including the Full Day Universal Pre-Kindergarten Initiative, the Drop-Out Prevention and Intervention Initiative and the English Language Learners Incentive Grant. “I was pleased to hear from experts from across the educational spectrum and gained further insights as to the causes of the problem as well as what we in government at all levels can do to proactively tackle this dropout crisis,” the Councilwoman concluded.

Councilwoman González also took advantage of the opportunity to meet with Governor David A. Paterson to discuss further funding streams for District 38 for health care and the Waterfront Park.