Education

Education leaders discuss Latino learning at Fresno State summit

Fresno State President Joseph Castro opens the California Latino Leadership Education Summit, held Friday, Oct. 30, 2015, at Fresno State.
Fresno State President Joseph Castro opens the California Latino Leadership Education Summit, held Friday, Oct. 30, 2015, at Fresno State. rappleton@fresnobee.com

About 300 educators gathered at a conference Friday at Fresno State to discuss issues affecting Hispanic students and to offer possible solutions.

“We’re here to bring focus to the central San Joaquin Valley,” organizer Victor Olivares said. “We gathered the college and district leaders here to identify leaks in the education pipeline from kindergarten through college and fix them.”

The California Latino Leadership Education Summit began Thursday with a short evening address and poetry reading by U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, who is a former Fresno State professor. Herrera also was honored for his poetry at a 5:30 p.m. event at the Smittcamp Alumni House.

Fresno State President Joseph Castro issued Friday’s welcome address just after 8 a.m. The packed event lasted until 6 p.m.

“This summit will focus in-depth on the issues our children of color are facing,” Castro said. “They can’t be taught in the same way because they don’t all learn in the same way.”

This summit will focus in-depth on the issues our children of color are facing. They can’t be taught in the same way because they don’t all learn in the same way.

Fresno State President Joseph Castro

Cruz Reynoso, a former associate justice of the California Supreme Court and a law professor at UC Davis, stressed the importance of improving economic and political situations to help foster education in the Latino community.

In front of a crowd consisting almost entirely of college professors and administrators, he criticized tuition costs and called for more scholarship money for California’s public universities.

He spoke about a young woman he knew who did not qualify for an $8,000 community college scholarship because she was a part-time student. She could only attend part-time because she was working and raising a child, and the loss of the scholarship meant she would probably not attend school.

Whether it’s $2,000 or a million dollars, it really doesn’t matter if you don’t have the money.

Cruz Reynoso, a former associate justice of the California Supreme Court and a law professor at the University of California at Davis

“Whether it’s $2,000 or a million dollars, it really doesn’t matter if you don’t have the money,” Reynoso said.

Jonathan Kozol, an author and education advocate, delivered the keynote address. Timothy White, chancellor for the California State University system, also spoke at the event. Panelists included leaders from California Community Colleges, UC Merced, Stanislaus and Fresno county schools, and several California state universities.

Portions of the event were live-streamed to the Mountain West network.

Olivares said that contributions from local businesses and education entities funded a portion of the summit. Tickets were $150 per person or $1,500 for a table. All proceeds not used to cover event costs will be used to fund scholarships for undocumented Fresno State students who don’t receive federal aid to attend college.

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