Friday, March 21, 2014

Social Justice Event: Key Note Speaker Ana Cano-Morales on RI Latino Student Achievement

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Ana Cano Morales is one of RIC's Key Note Speakers for their Dialogue on Diversity Lectures. Morales lecture was titled "Educational Communities: Strength in Partnerships".  Cano- Morales knows first-hand about the challenges ELL, or English Language Learners face. As a child, she was a fluent Spanish speaker; but she knew she needed to learn English as best as she could to succeed. Morales did not tell her story in a "woe is me" way; she just was trying to get the point across that she has come so far in life; and is truly successful; even though she faced struggles and had to work through learning another language. Cano- Morales started off her lecture with statistics about the Latino population.

  • 138,550 Latinos live in Rhode Island.
  • Latino's household earnings are 26% lower than the national average.
  • 1 to 3% of teaching forces in schools are Latino.
  • 23% of children in RI schools are Latino.
  • By the 8th grade, Latino students are 2-2.5 grade levels behind white students.

These numbers show just how impactful Latinos are in our communities. They are increasing steadily in the state. After reading these statistics, I thought about Rodriguez, and his ideologies of a "public vs. private identity". It is clear to see that the number of Latinos in our state is increasing rapidly, and is only going to  increase. The statistic which states that there are BARELY any Latino teaching forces in RI, and 23% of students are Latino is hard to hear because we have learned directly from that children need to use their strengths to expand and work on their weaknesses. If Latino students do not see anyone who is like them and shares their culture in schools, I am sure it is very hard for them to create their public identity. So instead, they keep their private identity; where Spanish is the main focus of what they know and do not learn as quickly as the students around them. This is just a theory of mine, but this could be the reason why Morales stresses that Latino students are so behind!
   Cano-  Morales stresses that we need to find ways to help ELL learners achieve success in school. I am sure Rodriguez would agree that finding more Latino workers would help children find who they are. Even simply just integrating their at-home language in the classroom would be extremely beneficial. Cano-Morales says "teachers need to try new things and work with students on their language barriers"; and she is right!
This article on Latino Achievement Gaps is an inside look on all of the points Ana Cano-Morales spoke about at this lecture. It shows how much she believes in leadership in schools towards helping the Latino Community, and her personal thoughts which I have stressed about RI schools.

If we were to speak with Virginia Collier about Latinos in RI schools; I am sure she would partner up with Cano-Morales in a second. Collier believes that students should "use first language acquisition strategies for learning or acquiring a second language" (127).  Cano-Morales stressed that teachers need to be willing to experiment and be flexible when it came to helping ELL learners succeed. It is extremely important to her that teachers play on the strengths of bilingual students, and Collier would agree. By doing so, a "school culture" can be created, where students are able to learn through their at-home language, and be proud of who they are and where they come from. Rodriguez and Collier's teachings go hand in hand, because Latino students would be able to achieve their sense of identity while learning and being accepted by the people around them.
This video and this article showcase the positive ways ELL students should be learning. Both of these links encourage ELL students to use their first language as a tool for what they are learning; which is something both Cano-Morales and Collier would be proud of.

Finally, I thought of Mcintosh throughout this lecture. Mcintosh sees whiteness as a privilege, and that we should really dissect how whiteness shows power in our communities. She believes that people who are white do not recognize their privilege; because they are taught not to do so. (1). The statistic which states that by the 8th grade, Latino students are 2-2.5 grade levels behind white students goes hand and hand with White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.  I am sure that white students do not realize that students of other cultures are behind them; and if they do; they do not say anything about it. Many people simply worry about themselves and their learning. However, I believe that if students want to improve their communities and the people around them; they could be active helpers in ELL learning. They could learn something from ELL students, while ELL students could learn something from them. It is a great way for students of any culture to get acclimated with each other and who they are in response to their communities. Mcintosh challenges us to examine whiteness in the community; and clearly based upon this statistic, white people are ahead compared to Latinos. In this way, they exhibit power and it puts Latinos at a disadvantage. Cano-Morales wants Latinos along with students of other cultures to be at an EQUAL. To be actively learning and engaging with teachers who can help them get ahead. However, thanks to programs like how RIC is teaming up with Central Falls schools; innovation in the way ELL students are taught are being positively changed. This partnership is researching and developing a new type of education. Steps like these will help RI for the better; along with Latino students.
In this article , it is stressed that multicultural learning is the only way for students to succeed. Teachers must "burst the bubble" about the student's different races, genders, cultures, and backgrounds and that they must apply these attributes to student's learning. It is an overall great piece that works hand and hand with our class!

Take home pieces of this lecture:
  • We need to use our knowledge of Latino students statistics and improve their learning for the better.
  • We need to develop new curriculums and models for effectively teaching ELL learners.
  • We must have a work force composed of people from the same decent or community as these Latino students so they can feel comfortable.
  • We must use their home language to help them learn other things.

Ana Cano-Morales was a great speaker and I am glad I chose this event to go to!

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