The Summer Slide: on Univision's Despierta América

Summer_Slide_on_Univision_Despierta_América-Viviana_Hurtado-TheWiseLatinaClub More than a professional "core competency," the topic of education is truly one of my passions. I am the beneficiary of the opportunities a solid education can afford a scholarship-child-of-immigrants kid, with my good grades and my parents' expectation that we did well in school the underpinning of every degree and accomplishment I've earned. If education is truly the great equalizer, it's even more the case for students who come from low-income and/or immigrant backgrounds. Unlike their wealthier peers who can perhaps attend private school or have a family business and connection to fall back, these students don't have the luxury of that options afford.

That's why I was so excited to be on Univision's top-rated national morning show Despierta América! I reported on an important issue facing students. Remember when summer vacation was just that? Nowadays, students needs to keep their minds sharp to prevent the so-called "summer slide"--when a student can lose up to two months learned during the school year. Researchers also state that this phenomenon is cumulative, meaning that students in the fifth grade who didn't keep "learning" over summer break can be up to two years behind their classmates who did.

Parents can give their kids an advantage by structuring learning into summer vacation. Options include summer school, a learning-focused summer camp, and a reading program such as the one I started with a partner--the 2015 L4LL Latino Children's Summer Reading Program in English and in Spanish.

Click here to watch the interview on Despierta América with anchor Satcha Pretto.

Click here to read more posts on education.

5 Coding Bootcamps for Diverse Adults

5_Coding_Bootcamps_Targeting_Diverse_Adults-TheWiseLatinaClub

The only employer is Johns Hopkins Hospital and we don't have the education or training to get a job there.

Of the many heartbreaking story lines of the Baltimore uprising sparked by Freddie Gray's death while in police custody, these words from a neighbor in the city's depressed west side, stick. The issues of generational poverty, historic racism, public policies that in practice backfired, corruption, frayed police and community relations are central to any discussion and action to rebuild this and scores of other communities across the country. But we must ask what the stability of a good paying job in a lucrative, thriving career could do to empower people economically. What could the opportunity afforded by a steady, well-paying job do to strengthen social ties in a community that can transform from a so-called dead end to one where its residents are going places?

This is where a career in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) comes in. In 7 Coding Programs Targeting Diverse Students, I make the case for a larger investment, driven by Silicon Valley, in youth coding education, targeting low-income and/or minority students. But what if you're an adult with few or zero job prospects? In an economy that continues to slowly recover since the global financial meltdown, a significant number are considered "missing workers" or those who are unemployed and/or have given up looking for work, according to the independent think tank the Economic Policy Institute. Additionally, Silicon Valley has a statistically documented diversity problem: less than 25% of those working in STEM fields are women and only 3% are Latina, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Now square the "missing workers" and the dearth of diversity with the much quoted fact that by 2020, 1 million computer science jobs could remain open because there won’t be enough qualified computer science grads to fill them, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It's hard to not connect the dots and see that our technology industry can assume a leadership position with computer skills training for diverse workers, helping to revitalize local and the broader economy while solving its tech worker shortage.

Critics will say my analysis is too simplistic. Perhaps. Although I don't know if the West Baltimore neighbor who begins this post would think so. The question that must be posed and answered is:

How do we bridge a potential employee's computers skills gap with the IT needs of our economy?

One answer: the so-called coding academies that are giving students a crash computer skills course in areas like programming and web development, dispelling along the way the notion that you have to be a math or science whiz.

5 Coding Boot Camps for Minority Adults

  1. New York City's Flatiron School (hat tip: PBS Newshour's economics correspondent Paul Solmon): For about $15,000, this academy offers a 10 week course that claims to have a 96% job placement rate in positions averaging $65,000/year. While not exclusively focused on future programmers of color, it offers scholarships to underrepresented students such as women and minorities, including a full tuition subsidized by the city.
  2. Sabio.la : A comprehensive software engineering program in Los Angeles focused on "cultivating exceptional talent." Sabio, which means wise in Spanish, has developed a 24 week methodology focused on pre-work, computer skills training, career placement, and mentoring. Between $3,500 and $13,000 as of publication, financing, although not scholarships, are available.
  3. Code Year: Created by Codecademy, online interactive tutorials teach web developer skills, computer languages, and APIs in lessons that take about 5 hours to complete. While not specifically targeting diverse techies, the program is free. If you don't have a computer or an internet connection at home, go to your local library or a friend's house to learn to code!
  4. Code Fellows: With in-person full day courses in Seattle, Portland, and Chicago, this program offers nearly full tuition scholarships for applicants who are women, veterans, or minorities. Courses average $12,000 and this year, this academy has set a goal of awarding up to 40 scholarships worth $250,000.
  5. Free Code Camp: This program not only teaches computer skills for free. But in exchange for free learning, coders build projects for nonprofits, in this way providing real world experience to help students build their resumes and portfolios.

For any coding program to be successful, students need to be singularly committed and the program needs to feature excellent teaching and corporate connections. But for a true economic transformation to take root and be sustainable, we need Silicon Valley to broadly commit to scaling these programs. One look at the economic decay in some of the communities in the news and it's clear that the time for tech giants to act was yesterday.

This may very well be the best start-up yet.

Any programs I missed? Please leave your recommendations below as a comment.

Click here to read more posts on technology and diversity, including the role of education and politics.

7 Coding Programs Targeting Diverse Students

7_Coding_Programs_Targeting_Diverse_Students-TheWiseLatinaClub In my post "How to Change Silicon Valley’s Brofest: Diversity" I noted the importance of creating what I identify as "ladders in" to technology to combat Silicon Valley's lack of racial, ethnic, and gender diversity brought into focus by the Ellen Pao and Kleiner Perkins trial. The statistics about the dearth of gender, racial, and ethnic difference are not alarming as detailed by this National Center for Women and Information Technology infographic which illustrates the steep decline as you filter in gender, ethnicity, and race. What should prompt outrage is that in 2015, the numbers and the social and educational conditions they document have remained consistently and abysmally low for the two decades since the tech field exploded. Why does this matter? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2020, 1 million computer science jobs could remain open because there won't be enough qualified computer science grads to fill them.

This too is not new. We must go one step further and start connecting the dots. Look at the large role of unemployment and low educational achievement in some of our nation's communities marked by civic strife. Now imagine what a lucrative career in technology could do to help rebuild the lives and cities of Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland.

Instagram and Snapchat are cluttered with girls, low income, and students of color. Latinos over-index on the use of mobile devices and social media. These are clear indicators that these students are exposed to technology. But they are consumers and not creators of tech. Tackling poverty is a daunting prospect that requires a focus on the basics--food in one's tummy and a roof over one's head. But once these needs are met, how do we create a sustainable future for families?

Exposing students to programming at an early age offers a clear way out of the barrio. Let's convert all those selfies and harness creativity to build the platforms and apps that can solve problems--the world's and their community's, big and small challenges alike.

Is computer science taught in elementary schools? Actually, it's only offered in about 10% of K-12 schools, according to data collected by the AP test. That means it is left to parents and community groups to fill this gap.

I hopped online to search. Instead of pages upon pages of online and brick and mortar programs, I found few that teach coding and even fewer to female and minority kids. This differs from a search of fashion or social apps.

Why are Silicon Valley giants and ubiquitous apps such as Facebook and Twitter not leading the charge? The former made a big hire in 2014 to lead diversity initiatives throughout the company. Facebook and Twitter are representative of a whole industry leveraged by innovation. Surely, they can benefit from a more educated homegrown workforce of engineers and developers.

Silicon Valley companies have infinite globs of money to help shape the labor force required to stay competitive. What is lacking is leadership in the form of more robust partnerships and support of local organizations that are engaged in this education and economic fight. Today's urgency should boraden the question from one more local program to support to how can the programs developed in East Palo Alto be scaled to reach children in Texas' Rio Grande Valley, Detroit, and the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C.?

We don't need any more studies or commissions. We need action and leadership from a group of people who stand to gain the most from their social, educational, and economic investment. Until the tech titans step up, I've identified these 7 groups--two online, another only available in the city of Baltimore, the others in between--that offer computing skills to minority and female students.

7 Coding Programs Targeting Diverse Students

  1. Girls Who Code: Clubs and summer immersion programs around the country to teach girls computing skills.
  2. Teens Exploring Technology (TxT): Focus on teaching computing and life skills to junior and high school male students of color in South Los Angeles.
  3. Black Girls Code: Clubs in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, and Memphis, plus events such as hackathons and summer camps, expose black and Latino girls to programming languages and the development of games and apps.
  4. Code in the Schools: An upstart organization that is bringing computer science instruction to every student and school in Baltimore through programs for schools, libraries, and community groups, plus an annual Game Jam, and mentoring. Psst: Mark Zuckerberg, given the recent events, this may be a good organization for you to bankroll.
  5. Code Studio by Code.org: A national program offering online classes for grade school children which claims to reach 1 in 10 grade-school students in the U.S. with nearly half of them female or African American or Latino.
  6. DIY Girls: Teaches technical skills to Los Angeles area Latina girls necessary to program an app or design and build toys through classes, after school programs, workshops, and mentoring.
  7. Google CS First: An online national program for schools, libraries, and community groups targeting 4th through 8th graders and teaching coding through the program Scratch. Disclosure: a summer reading program for Latino children I co-founded received seed money from Google.

Click here to read more posts on technology and diversity, including the role of education and politics.

Summer Break: Start a Summer Reading List

Starting a reading list can be a relaxing and productive way to spend your free time this summerTechnologies such as e-readers and phone applications have made it easier than ever to access thousands of book titles just about anywhere, anytime. Even if you prefer good old-fashioned books (like me), finding the right compilation of page-turners will keep you eager to read all summer long.

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Nothing is more mentally stimulating than reading a book. This is especially true for avid readers who inhale as many as ten books a month! For kids and adults alike, starting a reading list can spark the imagination, help self-improvement, and boost knowledge on just about any topic under the sun. While I often discuss the academic benefits for students, reading is also an important way for professionals to build understanding and inspiration for work.

More than anything, starting a reading list is all about motivating yourself to read more than you usually do. I find that selecting a variety of genres is key to staying interested. As I wrap up my first book of the summer, The Women Who Raised me by Victoria Rowell, I am already excited to see where my list will take me.

Aundrea's 5 Types of Books to Spice-up Your Reading List

  1. A peer suggested book: If any of your colleagues have made interesting book suggestions recently, try one out. Or, ask a friend about good books that may be sitting idle on her shelf. Following a suggestion from a peer not only guarantees a discussion buddy once you are done reading, it may even come with a copy of the book that you can borrow.
  2. A book you have read before: There truly is something special about re-reading a favorite passage and seeing how your perspectives have changed since the last time you read it. Books such as The Giver have been on my summer reading list consistently since childhood. I can always find something new to takeaway. This summer pick up a beloved (or even once detested) book and give it another try.
  3. An imaginative fiction series: Fantasy and science-fiction series have become increasingly popular with the success of books-turned-movies such as Twilight, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and The Hunger Games. (Shame on you if you didn't know they were books first!) Fiction novels are not only great for taking your mind off of the stresses of life. They will also add much needed adventure to your summer.
  4. A biography or autobiographyThe Women Who Raised Me, my current read, is a memoir that reveals what it was like for one woman to grow up in the foster system with many dynamic surrogate mothers. I thoroughly enjoy biographies and autobiographies as they offer the opportunity to walk a mile in someone else's shoes. If you are looking to add depth to your list and share in the personal experiences of another person, find great book suggestions here.
  5. A looked over classic: If you missed titles such as A Farewell to Arms, The Iliad, or The Color Purple during high school and college, add them to your reading list now. I like to read classic books just to take a break from the "best-sellers" list. Tip: Classic titles are often available free or super cheap on e-readers, and always at your local library.

reading on beach

A summer reading list is the perfect time to start a new relaxing hobby. With longer days and warmer weather, just imagine yourself lazing by the pool with a great book in your hands! Whether getting to the reads you have been putting off for awhile or joining the avid readers club for the first time, there really is no downside to picking up a book or two (or three) this summer.

Aundrea_Gregg-TheWiseLatinaClubAn education policy wonk at the Georgia Center of Opportunity, Aundrea Gregg holds a Master’s degree in Social Policy and Planning from the London School Of Economics and a Bachelor’s in Classical Civilizations and Political Science from Howard University. She also is a nail painting enthusiast and writer living in Atlanta, GA. Connect with Aundrea on Twitter or Google+.

Edited by: Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.

Which books will you add to your reading  list?

 

On Univision's Despierta America with Summer Reading Program & Discount Code

The education organization I co-founded Latinas for Latino Lit (L4LL) has a summer reading program specifically designed to reach, teach, and engage Hispanic students. In case you missed it, we are doing a series of appearances on Univision's highly-rated national morning show Despierta América.

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This summer, we are collaborating with Univision Educación in partnership with The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to promote explain the Common Core standards and the importance of summer reading to combat the so-called Summer Slide where during  vacation students can lose up to 22% of what they learned during the school year.

The 10% discount code for The Wise Latina Club readers who would like to subscribe is: wlc1410

Click here to read the article on L4LL which includes tips to prevent summer reading loss for all readers, as well as specific pointers for older Tween and Teen students. Click here to read the summer reading tips in Spanish and watch the Despierta América interview in Spanish with host Satcha Pretto which aired on June 18, 2014.

Education: 60 Years After Brown v. Board of Education

Two generations removed from the monumental Supreme Court Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka ruling, my educational experience was one privileged with opportunities perhaps unfathomable by my grandmother in her childhood. In a mixed-income suburban setting, I participated in rigorous academic programs. I became familiar with the subtleties of middle-class etiquette deemed necessary to succeed in life. I graduated public school prepared academically for college.

Within my quality middle-class education, however, I seldom saw my black friends in class. I was one of the few minorities enrolled in advanced classes. Despite exceeding academically, I struggled to find the guidance I needed to fulfill my ambition of attending college. I still felt the sting of racial insensitivity and saw peers fall through the cracks.

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My educational experience sheds light both on the opportunities facilitated by the monumental Brown decision and the considerable work left to realize its full mission of consistent experiences in the classroom. Brown may have legally ended “separate but equal,” but access to a quality education still remains a dream for many families.

At the time of the Brown ruling, the late Chief Justice Earl Warren declared:

"Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."

Segregation has now taken on less obvious forms with many schools predominantly one race due to historic, political, economic, and geographical factors. School facilities are still unequal due to segregation of resources. Less affluent areas carry the burden of educating students with smaller budgets, ill-equipped facilities, and less faculty support to meet the needs of their students.

Where poor neighborhoods are disproportionally filled with minority families, the lack of resources continues to result in low academic attainment and less college attendance. This trend ultimately results in lower earning potential as our students reach adulthood with poverty extending to yet another generation. In the poorest neighborhoods in America, these trends also influence expectations for at-risk students. Children of color and low-income students are still presumed less capable than their peers and less likely to succeed in life. This is simply the wrong mindset. To excel in school, realize life outcomes better than their parents, and overcome this segregation of expectations, we as teachers and parents must support our students all the way through their journey.

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We deprive all of our students when we overlook these new forms of segregation in our educational system. We deprive them further when we do not work for more inclusive policies that enable social mobility and empower students to thrive in school. Solving this divide will require a multifaceted solution that includes better city planning, equal housing opportunities, distribution of tax money, mindset shifts, and time.

Realizing true equality of opportunity to succeed in school and life is a fight we cannot give up on. Despite the persistent educational gaps that still exist along lines of race and class, all students can learn and will learn with stronger school systems. Brown v. Board of Education remains one of the most important rulings of the 21st century. The door to success has been open for 60 years. We must continue to ensure more students walk through it.

Aundrea_Gregg-TheWiseLatinaClubAn education policy wonk at the Georgia Center of Opportunity, Aundrea Gregg holds a Master’s degree in Social Policy and Planning from the London School Of Economics and a Bachelor’s in Classical Civilizations and Political Science from Howard University. She also is a nail painting enthusiast and writer living in Atlanta, GA. Connect with Aundrea on Twitter or Google+.

Edited by: Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.

How has the Brown decision impacted your life?

Education Wednesday: Preventing the Summer Slide

Summer break is an important time to bridge knowledge from one year to the next or risk falling behind. Particularly during the young formative years, research finds that failing to participate in meaningful summer activities such as reading clubs can greatly impact the course of a student’s education. Finding fun ways to incorporate enriching educational experiences  is vital to preventing the so-called summer slide.

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The summer slide may sound playful. However, this term refers to a trend among students to forget the school year's information. Sitting idle over break can have detrimental consequences. Research finds that two-thirds of the 9th grade reading gap is directly linked to limited access to educational summer programs. What's more, students behind in reading achievement by 9th grade are significantly less likely to graduate from high school and attend college, ultimately affecting career opportunities as an adult.

Increasing and utilizing summer learning opportunities is particularly important in low-income and minority communities. The summer slide contributes to the persistent educational achievement gap between students in areas with accessible and affordable learning opportunities and students in areas that lack such programs. As we look to keep our students' academic skills sharp, incorporating fun and educational summer activities does not have to break the bank or feel like a chore.

Aundrea’s 3 Tips for a Fun and Educational Summer

  1. Create a reading corner: Reading is the most fundamental way to prevent knowledge loss over the break. In fact, students who read six or more books during the summer can drastically improve their reading-comprehension abilities. In addition to regularly visiting your local library, designate an area solely for reading at home. Reading corners, as I call them, can create a comfortable area where students are free from distractions and able to breeze through summer reading lists. *Hint*: Reading corners do not just have to be for kids. My corner includes a comfy red chair, a bright lamp, magazines, hardbacks, my kindle charger, and a cozy blanket. I love it! For more ideas on how to boost your student's reading skills over the summer, check out the Latinas for Latino Lit (L4LL) Summer Reading Program, a literacy organization co-founded by The Wise Latina Club's very own Viviana Hurtado, PhD.
  2. Go to camp: Through a wide range of offerings such as science camps, swimming lessons at the YMCA, band sectionals, and sports leagues, many learning opportunities exist to fit the unique needs and interests of your student. Both sleep-away camps and local day-camps provide opportunities for students to build critical-thinking skills as well as the perseverance and ingenuity needed to master new abilities.
  3. Take family vacations and field trips: Spending quality time with family can also incorporate educational activities during summer. Academic activities such as keeping journals and writing book reports can take on a new life when students write about exploring a museum, learning something new at a local cultural celebration, or by spending time reading on the beach. Whether in-town or out-of-town, take time to boost academic skills by getting the whole family involved.

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Hours of unstructured free time may be on your child’s mind. However, for students in kindergarten all the way to adulthood, utilize vacation breaks for learning. It is imperative that parents and students alike stay involved over the summer by continuing to keep skills sharp. Staying academically active while school is out will give your child a head start towards later success in life

Aundrea_Gregg-TheWiseLatinaClubAn education policy wonk at the Georgia Center of Opportunity, Aundrea Gregg holds a Master’s degree in Social Policy and Planning from the London School Of Economics and a Bachelor’s in Classical Civilizations and Political Science from Howard University. She also is a nail painting enthusiast and writer living in Atlanta, GA. Connect with Aundrea on Twitter or Google+.

Edited by: Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.

How will you prevent the summer slide?

Education: Teacher Appreciation Week Edition: Retaining High-Quality Teachers

This week marks Teacher Appreciation Week, a time for us to show our gratitude and give thanks for the teachers who brighten the lives of our young ones. Educators are one of America’s most vital assets as they help students gain knowledge and hone the skills they need to succeed in life. Indeed, we can all recall at least one teacher in our lives who helped shape us for the better. One important way we can show our appreciation for the great teachers in our lives is by advocating for educational practices that recruit and retain more quality teachers such as innovative compensation  models and incorporating professional development.

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National education reforms such as No Child Left Behind and the Common Core State Standards Initiative depend on quality teachers to lead students to higher achievement of academic benchmarks. Studies find that effective teachers can produce up to an additional year and a half of learning even for the most at-risk students. Yet, America faces a teacher shortage as retention of effective educators remains low and more young people opt to take up other professions. The average student-teacher ratio is now 16 students per every teacher, up from previous years of 14 students per teacher. In areas with large minority and low-income families, student-teacher ratios can be as high as 23 to 1. Recruiting more teachers is vital to keeping class sizes small, providing individualized attention, and ensuring quality education for all students.

In addition to increasing the number of qualified teachers, America's school systems must do more to increase diversity amongst teachers. A recent report finds that a growing divide between the diversity of student populations and teachers leading classes is occurring. Recalling my recent discussion in Education Wednesday: Minority Students are the New Majority, increasing diversity and raising the number of highly-qualified teachers is important to serving the unique strengths, challenges, and interests of different student groups. The benefits of diverse teachers are two-fold: some students have the chance to intellectually and personally grow from their interaction with someone from a different culture. Others have the chance to identify with someone of a similar background. 

Even one adult who cares can greatly impact a child's commitment to education and improve life outcomes. That's why it is urgent to increase the number of invested teachers.

Aundrea's Tips for Increasing the Number of Qualified and Effective Teachers

  1. Increase teachers' compensation: As America is still in great need of highly-qualified teachers, raising salaries may be one of the most important ways to recruit and retain better educators. Currently, the national median income for teaching is $56,000, with most states boasting salaries closer to $46,000. Some critics argue that teachers are actually overpaid. However, almost 46 percent of public school teachers call it quits within the first five years of starting in the classroom with the top two reasons being high work-related stress combined with low salary earnings. Increasing compensation for teachers is not only a matter of fiscally showing our appreciation. It is also vitally important for attacking top candidates to work as educators within our school systems.
  2. Encourage professional development: One trait of a great educator (and really any professional) is the drive to constantly work towards perfecting her craft. Professional development classes grant educators the opportunity to share new ideas and learn techniques from other effective teachers. Schools must build in time for teachers to improve their skills. Constantly sharpening skills allow teachers to provide better educational experiences which greatly benefits students. Incorporated professional development classes also provide opportunities for teachers to advance within their careers, adding another level of respect and satisfaction to the teaching profession.
  3. Reclaim teachers' time for teaching: Great teachers often do more than just teach. On top of their duties to cover curricula, we ask educators to serve as administrators, counselors, child care providers, role models, coaches, motivational speakers, and advocates. While many educators happily or innately fill these roles, often our most qualified teachers are tied up in outside tasks that can limit their time to plan and be effective in the classroom. Schools must work to build more flexible models that allow great teachers to better direct their time towards preparing students.

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Highly effective teachers launch imaginations, engage inquisitive minds, and mold impressionable learners along their way to adulthood. Without the great educators in our lives, many of us would not be where we are today. As we show appreciation for the amazing teachers who fill our students with knowledge and hope, it is important to remember that all students, no matter where they live, deserve the opportunity to be led by an exceptional educator. Increasing the number of high-quality teachers who we can celebrate all through the year is vital to providing an educational experiences that will stick with kids forever.

Aundrea_Gregg-TheWiseLatinaClubAn education policy wonk at the Georgia Center of Opportunity, Aundrea Gregg holds a Master’s degree in Social Policy and Planning from the London School Of Economics and a Bachelor’s in Classical Civilizations and Political Science from Howard University. She also is a nail painting enthusiast and writer living in Atlanta, GA. Connect with Aundrea on Twitter or Google+.

Edited by: Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.

How are you showing appreciation for the teachers in your life?

Announcing the L4LL 2014 Latino Children's Summer Reading Program

Aundrea and Haley have been holding down The Wise Latina Club fort for months which has allowed me and my partner Monica Olivera to focus on our education and literacy organization and our signature L4LL Latino Children's Summer Reading Program.

This year, we developed a Premium Family Subscription to our new "Do It Yourself (DIY)" Summer Reading Camp that includes more than 100 original printable activities designed to help boost your child's literacy skills. For children in 2nd through 6th grade, the 100 crafts and activities worksheets are divided into 10 engaging themes, such as Art, Music, and Sports. All themes are Common Core aligned and culturally relevant guided by our curated recommended reading list of U.S. Latino children's authors and illustrators. Our program has also been kid-tested and kid approved (specifically by Monica's children!) which is important because we want kids to be engaged and have fun--the first step to creating a lifelong love or reading. These 10 themes are meant to cover our 10-week summer reading program with daily activities.

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The Premium Family subscription is priced at modest fee of $50. This one-time payment covers the full 10 week program, giving access to every printable in our summer reading program. That equals $5 a week.

Registration is open.

The Wise Latina Club readers will receive 10% off the cost of a Premium Subscription.

Just enter the coupon code wlc1410 when you checkout.

We are also offering a Freemium Family Subscription. Like last year, you can subscribe to the program and download our 2014 Summer Reading Lists with children's book titles by Latino authors and illustrators, as well as downloadable our free summer reading kits with reading pledges, reading logs, and a certificate of achievement in English and and Spanish to recognize your child's reading accomplishment over the summer.

While the L4LL Latino Children's Summer Reading Program officially runs from June 1st to August 10th, you can start preparing for June 1st by subscribing today to receive immediate access to our program downloads.

Lastly, all subscribers--Freemium and Premium Family subscriptions--can submit a list of 8 books that your children read at the summer to enter to win great reading incentives, such as Chromebooks, Google Play gift cards, and school supplies.

Sign up today Latinas4LatinoLit.org!

¡A leer!/Let's read!

Education Wednesday: Breaking the School to Jail Pipeline

Eliminating the school-to-prison pipeline and restoring important support networks for students requires improved access to quality education. The link between incarceration and education is clear: more than 70 percent of  America’s prisoners did not complete high school and have only a 10th grade education. Addressing disparity-causing practices in our schools can no longer wait since millions of Americans being locked away impacts the cohesiveness of our communities, the prosperity of our economy, and most importantly, millions of our students because parents and guardians are absent.

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Limited access to quality education can set students on the path towards incarceration before they are even out of diapers. Nationally, incarceration rates are as high as 1 in 31. In my home state of Georgia that number shoots up to 1 in 13 people behind bars. Considering these alarming high rates, it is easy to see how in many communities across the country, it is likely that many have a relative, friend, or neighbor who is locked up.

School disciplinary statistics also shine a spotlight on America’s elevated incarceration rate. Though minorities account for a smaller percentage of students enrolled in school, the Washington Post reports Latino students are nearly twice as likely to be suspended or expelled from school as their White American peers. African American students are three times more likely to be removed from school. Even one incident of suspension can greatly impact success in school and diminish the odds of crossing the graduation stage. These statistics feed directly into the disproportionate number of working-age African Americans and Hispanics now in prison.

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The underlying economic and racial disparities in both education and incarceration practices cannot be ignored. States that spend more money housing prisoners than educating students risk economic prosperity for future generations. Making key improvements in education could lay the necessary groundwork for addressing America’s elevated incarceration rates, including participating in well-structured early childhood education as I discuss in Education Wednesday: A Case for Universal Preschool.

Aundrea's 4 Changes in Education to Reduce Incarceration Rates

    1. Recognize the Minority-Majority: Access to adequate education continues to be skewed across class and racial lines. Yet, minorities now constitute a larger segment of our communities, tax base, workforce, and, unfortunately, the prison population. As I write in Education Wednesday: Minority Students are the New Majority, closing once and for all persistent achievement gaps calls for even greater urgency to ensure all students have a shot at academic success. By acknowledging our Minority-Majority student population and implementing sound policies in schools to empower these students,  the incarceration rate could greatly decrease.
    2. Practice restorative education vs. removal from school: Suspending and expelling students can be detrimental to future life outcomes. That's why restorative educational practices offer a new perspective to address behavioral management in schools. States are rethinking punishment in school through restorative education which focuses on renewing good relationships and developing school ethos by incorporating student-focused interventions such as peer mediation and working closely with students to build conflict resolution skills.
    3. Build stronger relationships with students: In Education Wednesday: Mentoring Towards Academic Achievement, I discuss the need for positive relationships between students and mentors, teachers, and parents. Strong relationships can change mindsets that hinder learning and boost academic success. As interaction with even one adult who cares can positively impact a student's life, we must provide a supportive foundation to help more kids reach higher academic outcomes and navigate their journey through life.
    4. Increase Community involvement: Community is an important part of students' support systems. Those who are positively involved in their community are more likely to be committed to school and less likely to commit offenses against their neighbors. Participating in after-school programs and community service can bridge lessons in school with additional mentorship that instills core values. Creating strong community-school partnerships is vital to anchoring our at-risk students.

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We as educators, parents, and decision-makers cannot continue to let students fall through the cracks in school. A person's level of educational attainment directly correlates with the likelihood of going to prison. As the figures above suggest, those with the lowest level of attainment are among the most likely to be incarcerated. To change lives and take a bite out of crime, the best thing we can do is improve educational experiences for our learners, ensuring they build the skills needed to positively contribute to society.

Aundrea_Gregg-TheWiseLatinaClubAn education policy wonk at the Georgia Center of Opportunity, Aundrea Gregg holds a Master’s degree in Social Policy and Planning from the London School Of Economics and a Bachelor’s in Classical Civilizations and Political Science from Howard University. She also is a nail painting enthusiast and writer living in Atlanta, GA. Connect with Aundrea on Twitter or Google+.

Edited by: Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.

What are some other ways we can stop crime through education?