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Latino Education Policy Forum draws state's top educators

Edward Lee Vargas - Courtesy
Edward Lee Vargas
— image credit: Courtesy

Sea Mar Community Health Centers' Latino/a Educational Achievement Project (LEAP) host its first-ever Latino Education Policy Forum at the SeaTac Hilton Hotel on Friday.

Following morning policy presentations and remarks by state superintendent of public instruction, Randy Dorn, a legislative panel will respond to policy proposals. Panelists include three of the four chairs of education committees in the State Legislature: Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, K-12 and Early Learning; Rep. Larry Seaquist, Higher Education; Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, K-12 Education.Presenters will use key data to support their policy presentations, all aimed at the 2013 legislative session:

• Superintendent of the Kent School District, Edward Lee Vargas, will present K-12 policy proposals that focus on adequately preparing and assessing academic progress of ELL students.

• Dr. Luís Fraga, associate vice provost, University of Washington, will propose higher education policies aimed at helping improve access and completion of higher education of Latino students.

• Ricardo Sanchez, LEAP director, will present a proposal to enable undocumented students to qualify for state-funded financial aid for college.

"We are pleased to see the level of interest of many of our state's top educational leaders and organizations who are active in shaping education policies in our state. It's a strong statement of collective concern about the state of education of Latino students who typically score worse on state assessments than other student groups," Sanchez said.

"In the past three decades, Latinos far outpace the growth of other student populations, and if we don't soon find real solutions to address the so called achievement gap, Washington's overall health and economic well being will compromised. I am gratified with the response of those attending the policy forum. This forum will look seriously at the opportunity or resource gap that often times slows down academic progress."

In addition to those mentioned above, confirmed attendees include six legislators, three community college presidents, two university chancellors and one university president; executive directors of State Board of Education, Washington Student Achievement Council (formerly, HECB, College Success Foundation, Washington Association of School Administrators, State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, OneAmerica, Northwest Education Loan Association, Partnership for Learning, Stand for Children, Commission on Hispanic Affairs; and representatives of the WEA, League of Education Voters, Strategies 360, OSPI, and several other colleges, universities, and organizations.

Forum co-sponsors are the Commission on Hispanic Affairs, Kent School District, Puget Sound Educational Service District, Seattle University, University of Washington and Washington Education Association.

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