Youth from the Llano Grande Center met in conversation with officials from the U.S. Department of Education earlier this month to provide feedback on the state of Hispanic education.
The meeting, held at the University of Texas – Brownsville campus, was part of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans (WHEEHA), which involves a series of community forums being held across the state to hear from educators and students about the barriers facing Hispanic students in U.S. classrooms.
The Llano Grande group included Vivianna Rodriguez, Niella Martinez, and Angie Rodriguez – all Edcouch-Elsa High School class of 2009 – and Nadia Casaperalta, EEHS 06, an anthropology major at Kalamazoo College who is working with the Center this summer.
During the meeting, the Llano Grande Center youth and staff held dialogues with White House officials including Juan Sepulveda, head of WHEEHA, and other local educational leaders including teachers and university presidents. Providing feedback based on their own personal stories of struggles they faced in school – particularly related to the high-stakes pressure created by the state-mandated accountability test and No Child Left Behind – the Llano Grande students brought unique perspectives into the room, especially since they were the only youth in the conversation.
According to Sepulveda, the information gathered from these dialogues will be compiled into a report that will then inform future policy recommendations made to Congress and the White House.
The Llano Grande Center has a history of becoming involved in and informing educational policy, with Center youth and staff having participated in various forums and testimonies throughout the years.