NJ Latino Legislators Join Colleagues from Nine States in New York for NALEO Northeast Policy Institute on Education

Pou, Ruiz, Chaparro, Jimenez & Pintor Marin Join Nearly 50 Other Latino Policymakers to Discuss Education Issues
Trenton – A group of New Jersey Legislators recently joined the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, the nation’s preeminent Latino leadership organization, and nearly 50 other Latino elected officials from across the northeast region, for the NALEO Northeast Policy Institute on Education held in New York City.
State Senators Nellie Pou and M. Teresa Ruiz and Assemblywomen Eliana Pintor-Marin, Angelica Jimenez, and Annette Chaparro participated in the regional two-day institute with state legislators, county and municipal officials, state and school board members from Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Virginia. The conference was held to discuss and share innovative and successful policies and practices that can drive change in local communities as legislators advocate for an educational system where all students have the opportunity to thrive and succeed. This kind of information sharing among legislators is es K-12 education, and at a time when critical leadership and oversight decisions are being redirected pecially critical in the face of new federal policies and priorities, from child care to to state and local officials.
“In the United States, approximately 5.1 million U.S. born children live with at least one undocumented parent,” said Senator Pou who serves as chair of the New Jersey Legislative Latino Caucus, and led the conference panel titled ‘Meeting the Needs of Undocumented Children and Families.’ “It is incumbent upon us to ensure we have services in place that benefit undocumented families, from education to healthcare and childcare, and afford them a safe environment to live, work and thrive in New Jersey. We must also recognize the vulnerabilities of these families and work to implement additional policies both here and nationwide, to protect these residents and ensure their stability and success in this country that they call home.”
During the conference, legislators learned best practices, and exchanged legislative policies and ideas around the most effective ways to advocate for students, families, and communities from birth to K-12.
“The Latino community has contributed immensely to the economic and cultural advancement of the United States and the state of New Jersey,” said Senator Ruiz, chair of the Senate Education Committee. “We, as legislators, must continue to provide the necessary tools so that all residents can achieve their American Dream through education and employment opportunities. We have made strides in New Jersey through numerous policies, and I was pleased to share with elected officials in other northeastern states the important work we’ve been doing. We must continue our work to ensure that services and educational programs – from prenatal care to early childhood education through college – are accessible for all residents, including for undocumented residents who are an important part of the fabric of our state.”
Today, one in four children living in the United States, under the age of 18, is Latino. By 2050 it is projected that more than one in three will be Latino. With Latinos representing the second largest population group in the nation, the future success and vitality of our communities and the country are intrinsically tied to this segment of the population.
“Latino children are projected to make up about a third of total Pre-K-12 enrollment by 2023. That’s just six years from now. While great strides have been made, Latino children are more likely to live in poverty and lack health care, which impacts their education,” said Assemblywoman Chaparro. “More Latino students are going to college, but still trail other groups in earning a bachelor’s degree because of economic factors. As legislators, we have the power to effect change. We have to create policies that will address these roadblocks so that Latino students are able to reach their full potential and succeed academically. I’m honored to be in a position where I can help make a difference, and promise to work diligently to ensure that the needs of all our students are met. The future of our state and our country depends on their success.”
“In the last few years alone, we’ve seen more Latinos graduating from high school, pursuing higher education and starting businesses in the United States, but considering the many challenges that we continue to face – among them the need to make college more affordable and the need to repair a broken immigration system – legislators must be diligent in the effort to bring issues affecting our Latino population to the forefront,” said Pintor Marin. “A quality education can allow more young people to reach their full potential. The fact that a community of thoughtful, dedicated elected officials throughout the region is committed to creating pathways for Latino students to thrive signifies a bright future for Latinos in New Jersey and in the United States.”
“I was honored to take part in NALEO as a legislator and a Latina. The drastic federal policy changes to immigration and cuts to education under the Trump administration demand our full attention to potential effects on the Latino and undocumented population,” said Assemblywoman Jimenez. “It is imperative that we continue conversations with policymakers throughout the Northeast, working together to ensure that we are meeting the educational needs of all residents and encouraging the next generation to pursue and seize their dreams here in America.”
Topics addressed through the Institute curriculum included: the foundations of early childhood education, developing healthy environments, meeting the needs of undocumented children and families, leveraging opportunities in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and leading for equity from all levels of education policymaking.
This Institute was part of the NALEO Education Leadership Initiative (NELI) which aims to provide Latino public servants with the enhanced capacity and governance skills they need to become effective advocates for their students, families, and communities from birth to college.
The event was made possible through the generous support of Title Sponsors, Alliance for Early Success, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and State Farm™. The New Jersey Legislative Latino Caucus was an event partner. A full agenda is available at http://www.naleo.org/2017_education.