Thomas Freidman in his column in the NY Times on Sunday summed up my feelings perfectly with respect to the federal budget impasse. He wrote: “So far, the GOP is calling for cuts in the things we need to invest more in—like education and infrastructure—while leaving largely untouched things we need to reduce, like entitlements and defense spending. A country that invests more in its elderly than its youth, more in nursing homes than schools, will neither invent the future nor own it.”
In Silicon Valley relative to our future I think the glass is half empty. We must wake up and seize the time now before it is too late. Are our children well? Are our Latino children well?
At last Friday’s unveiling of the Silicon Valley Latino Report Card at the San Jose Convention Center many of us were asked to give a letter grade to the education of Latino Youth. The 25 or so leaders I was clustered with participated in a 30-minute discussion prior to being asked to issue our grade. With unanimity we concluded the grade should be a D-minus.
The report prepared by Applied Survey Research and Creative Mundo Consulting gave the official Latino report card for Education an overall grade of a C. Is this more evidence of grade inflation or are we on the right track with the trend line up?
I will let the facts speak to the grade and the trend line.
Most at our three tables were surprised at the passing grade given the education of Latino Youth in Silicon Valley. Certainly we can stipulate that there are some wonderful stories beginning to be told at local schools and districts relative to the successes preparing Latino youth for school and ensuring their ultimate success through college commencement. And these laudable results are being accomplished with declining funds and resources. Certainly success in these times of diminishing resources requires blistered hands, tired bodies and warm hearts.
In 2009 Latinos accounted for 26 percent of the overall population of Silicon Valley (San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties). By 2040 Latinos are projected to be the largest population group living within Silicon Valley boundaries. Here are some of the facts contained in the Latino Report Card on the Education Indicator.
• 37 percent of Latinos have less than a high school diploma as compared with 7 percent of non-Latinos.
• 14 percent of Latinos have bachelor degrees compared with 52 percent of non-Latinos.
• 33 percent of Latinos are proficient in 3rd grade reading compared with 55 percent for all SV students.
• 30 percent of Latinos are proficient in 8th grade Algebra I compared with 55 percent for all SV students. The SV Latino proficiency rate is • 5 percent behind the CA average for Latino students.
• 25 percent+ drop out of school before completing high school and the rate is climbing.
• 26 percent of Latinos complete UC/CSU course requirements compared with 57 percent for non-Latino students.
There is a saying that college readiness begins in kindergarten. For me it begins upon conception. We can debate that for years, but suffice it to say if we are to have a healthy, vibrant, growing economy in Silicon Valley in the next several decades we need to focus much more of our attention and resources to the education of our Latino youth.
Congratulations to Carmen Sigler, Chairperson of HFSV and Ron Gonzales, HFSV President and CEO, for their foresight in commissioning this first-ever report. In their greetings to the data portion of the report Carmen and Ron write: “The well being of Latinos concerns everyone who lives and works in Silicon Valley. This is about the quality of life not just for Latinos, but for all of us.”
The Report Card highlighted other quality of life indicators and a grade for each:
• Health: B
• Financial Stability: D
• Housing: D
• Environmental Sustainability: C