Equality in education a hot topic at local and national levels

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“Higher education must be within the reach of every American.” These were the words spoken by President Obama in his State of the Union address Tuesday evening. Taken literally, it would seem that the president was voicing support for those who oppose immigration reform legislation such as the DREAM Act (emphasis on “American”). But he quickly made his point clear, going on to say

Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens. Some are the children of undocumented workers, who had nothing to do with the actions of their parents. They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet they live every day with the threat of deportation. Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us. It makes no sense.

Our nation’s education policies were also in discussion here in town. Last Friday the Levine Museum hosted a panel to go along with their “Courage” exhibit, focusing on race relations and the future of education. Janet Murguía, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), attended the event. Spanish-language newspaper Hola quotes her as saying;

Hemos podido ver en las ceremonias de graduación que cerca de un 50% de los estudiantes que dejan de estudiar son latinos o afroamericanos.  Esta cifra debe alarmarnos porque se verá reflejada en la competitividad del país globalmente...

Todos debemos reconocer que la educación es un derecho civil en nuestro tiempo.  Esto requiere que todos juntos trabajemos con los gobiernos y los sistemas escolares para mantener las mismas oportunidades para todos los estudiantes.

[Translation] “We've seen, in graduation ceremonies, that almost 50 percent of the students that leave school are Latino or African-American. This statistic should alarm us because it will be reflected in the country’s global competitiveness.

We should all recognize that education is a civil rights issue in our time. This requires that  we all work together, with governments and school systems, to provide the same opportunities for all students.”

Watch the rest of Obama’s thoughts on illegal immigration and education here

Read Murguía's thoughts on the President's speech here

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