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Chuck Carney
IU School of Education

Last modified: Wednesday, April 29, 2009

IU School of Education deepens collaborations with "Latino Initiative"

Special event, memorandum of understanding marks growing partnership between IU School of Education at IUPUI and the Indianapolis Latino community

April 29, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS -- A nationally renowned scholar on Latino educational issues will be the featured speaker at a special event celebrating the partnership between the IU School of Education at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Latino community.

The presentation and panel discussion, on Thursday, April 30, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the IUPUI Campus Center, also will mark the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the School of Education and Indianapolis Latino organizations. The event is free and open to the public.

"Our faculty have a long and strong history of working in partnership with the Latino community," said Executive Associate Dean Pat Rogan. "We are committed to unifying our efforts and working together toward positive change."

The memorandum of understanding formalizes the partnership and describes the creation of a unit within the School of Education's Center on Urban and Multicultural Education (CUME) at IUPUI dedicated exclusively to the study of Latino education in Indiana. Working as a federation of local neighborhood organizations, school districts, university researchers, and other key stakeholders, the unit would set and oversee implementation of a collaboratively-derived agenda built around these goals:

  • Create a knowledge base on the status of Latino education in the state
  • Enrich the public discourse bearing on Latino education issues
  • Provide technical assistance in educational practices that work best for Latinos
  • Advance policies and programs that address issues and needs.

"La Plaza is enormously pleased to play a role in CUME's proposal to create the new research unit," said Miriam Acevedo Davis, executive director of La Plaza, an organization that serves as a liaison between Latinos and the larger community. "We implemented solid data tracking for our many education programs, and welcome the possibility of the research unit's assistance in interpreting and researching the data in a meaningful way to continue to grow our programs' impact on educational achievement. We also look forward to a united voice in beginning the process of effective policy setting statewide and best practices."

"This is a wonderful opportunity to partner for research, experience and culture at the university and the community level. The results will benefit students, educational institutions and community at large," said Aida McCammon, president, CEO and co-founder of the Indiana Latino Institute Inc., a nationwide non-profit organization located in Indianapolis.

On Thursday, Angela Valenzuela, director of the University of Texas Center for Education Policy, will speak about "Latino Immigrant Youth and the Struggle for the Rights of Children of Undocumented Parents." A panel discussion among community partners will follow Valenzuela's presentation.

Angela Valenzuela

Angela Valenzuela

Print-Quality Photo

Valenzuela is professor in both the Cultural Studies in Education Program within the Department of Curriculum & Instruction and the Educational Policy and Planning Program within the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Texas at Austin. Among her publications are the books Leaving Children Behind: How "Texas-style" Accountability Fails Latino Youth, as well as Subtractive Schooling: U.S.-Mexican Youth and the Politics of Caring.

The event is part of the IU School of Education's "Latino Initiative" at IUPUI, an effort to build on previous partnerships but forge new relationships to serve the Latino community.

"We wanted an event that would really be a kind of kick start," said co-organizer Samantha Bartholomew, assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies. "We are looking to bring together scholars, like Dr. Valenzuela, to share information based on their research as well as their work and advocacy in the policy realm, who can be an advisory voice."

Co-organizer Monica Medina, lecturer in teacher education, said she benefited from university partnerships when she was leading a community organization.

"We're working with a community (partner) that has access to the population," she said. "Bringing people from the university to learn about the community, but at the same time helping that community can be very beneficial."

The IU School of Education has a strong history of reaching out to the Latino community. Professor Josť Rosario started the El Puente Project in 2000 as a part of CUME. It was aimed at decreasing dropouts and increasing the number of Latino youth who pursue post-secondary education. In October, the Indianapolis City-County Council honored Rosario and the project's success with a resolution recognizing his work. El Puente is now a part of the larger community effort called the Latino Youth Collective, where Rosario serves as a board member.

Associate Professor of Second/Foreign Language Education Annela Teemant directs an ongoing project focusing on English Language Learners (ELLs). A grant from the U.S. Department of Education is funding a five-year project to better prepare ELL teachers before they begin their careers, develop skills of current teachers, and revise methods of IU faculty. The project is a partnership between the IU School of Education at IUPUI and the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS).

The faculty say there is a real opportunity for researchers and the Latino community to learn things about issues particular to central Indiana and the state.

"It's really just more about doing research and cultivating school-university partnerships in a city like Indianapolis and in a state like Indiana where the Latino community is continuing to grow," Bartholomew said.