NHCLC Parent Toolkit

Welcome to the NHCLC Education Toolkit! You’re about to discover a variety of tools and resources to help the students in your family and congregation enjoy a successful school year. Browse to find education tips, parent-teacher conference guides, information about academic standards, and many other tools to help Raise the Standards for our students.

Letter from Samuel Rodriguez

Dear Parents, Pastors and Friends,

As you may have heard, educational standards are being raised across most U.S. states, to better help students prepare for success in college and career. I’m excited about this change on a very personal level due to my own personal experience with educational expectations. You see, no one at my school expected me to attend college, much less lead the nation’s largest Hispanic Christian organization.

I grew up attending public school in Pennsylvania, an eager student with a knack for numbers and science. Yet as many wealthier and non-Hispanic students in my district were expected to excel and attend college, those high expectations did not apply to me or my friends. We lived in socially-challenged neighborhoods and our educational standards corresponded to our zip code. Though I had been identified for the gifted program and was taking honors classes, I will never forget how the guidance counselor explained that “kids like me” go to vocational or technical schools. My future options were limited in her eyes as she spelled it out clearly, “Do you want to focus on electrical or auto mechanics?”

My parents were not college educated, but they possessed great spiritual fortitude and wisdom, which helped me channel the racism I experienced into a determination to prove that guidance counselor wrong. The youngest in my family, I was the first to graduate college. I returned to that same high school as a teacher and requested to teach “BASIC” track students, knowing the minority students ended up there. And I taught an honors class as well. I pushed the minority students to excel and told them they could have the same hopes and dreams as their middle class friends because they were the same on the inside. Unheard of at the time, I kept the content and expectations high for both groups of students, customizing the methodology for individual needs. Then I did something really radical: I gave the honors class 9th grade World History test to my “BASIC” class. The results proved that both sets of students could exceed – if they were given the right supports and high expectations.

Decades have passed since my own public school experience yet many minority students, especially poor and immigrant students, have continued to be held to lower educational standards. This dishonors the intellect, work ethic and soul of these children even as it handicaps our nation’s future. Every child is created in the image of God, and every child deserves to be held to high educational expectations, which is why I support the Common Core State Standards which have been recently adopted by most American states. I wish they had been in place during my public school years, during the years I was teaching, to lift the eyes and fuel the dreams of minority students.

Because the status quo was failing children, Governors and state educational officers came together to raise expectations and align what students need to know in high school with the skills and knowledge to succeed in college. This effort resulted in streamlined academic standards focused on what is most important for students to master in order to succeed in college level work, such as critical thinking and strong math fluency. The Common Core standards offers parents, students and teachers clear learning goals which are easy to understand yet consistently demanding. This is good news for Hispanic students, since fifty-eight percent of those who currently make it to college do not graduate. As our next generation is held to higher standards before high school graduation, they will be prepared to not only enter but to thrive on their college campuses.

I stand in support of higher educational standards alongside leading Republican Governors such as Chris Christie, former Governor Mitch Daniels, former Governor Bush, and former Governor Huckabee – all of whom deemed the adoption of the Common Core State Standards in the best interest of the students in their states. Raising educational expectations for our nation’s young people may be a challenge, but we will see those students rise to meet the challenge. Rigorous educational standards are a starting point for student success.

As you read through the resources included in this Education Toolkit, I hope you’ll take time to read through the standards for your students’ grade levels. This is just one of many resources we’re providing to help you encourage educational success and a love of learning for your children and in your community. As parents and church leaders, your commitment to student success will pave the way for tomorrow’s leaders – for the children in your homes and your pews are the future leaders of this great country.

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez

President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

Radford, A.W.; Berkner, L.; Wheeless, S.C.; and Shepherd, B. 2010. “Persistence and Attainment of 2003–04 Beginning Postsecondary Students Six Years Later.” http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2011/2011151.pdf. p. 8, Table 1.(The statistic is based on a measure of all students’ (part-time and full-time) completion of any credential at the first institution a student attended, within six years of enrolling.)

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Letter from Carlos Campo

Dear Students and Parents,

We once again begin a new school year, a time of excitement, expectation, and even a little nervousness. To help ensure this year is your best ever, we’ve created this Educational Toolkit to provide resources to help you prepare for success.

One change that makes 2014-15 a special school year is a set of clear and consistent high educational standards which have been adopted by nearly every state in America. These standards are designed to prepare students for college, the workforce, and life. They are tough but fair. As these new standards are implemented, you will see new skills emerge. Students will become stronger readers as they focus on more difficult texts. Their math understanding will also improve, as they grasp the building blocks for learning. This Toolkit can help you explore and understand the new Math and English standards being implemented at every grade level in schools across the country.

High expectations can make all the difference for students! Neither of my parents completed high school, but they knew the power of a good education, and made it clear that they expected me to work hard and complete my studies. A college education was an expectation, not just a dream. They told me that my education was something that no one could ever take from me, and in a world of unpredictable change, my education was something I could count on my entire life. They made education a priority for our family, and spoke to me about my studies and my progress nearly every day. They taught me to never be satisfied with anything less than my best, and the incredible wonder of learning something new. Their high expectations opened a whole new world of opportunity for me.

In preparation to teach college, I visited many high school classrooms. There, I learned that students who were “college material” were directed to Honors and AP classes. Other students took “less rigorous” classes. When I visited these classes, students were often simply watching videos or having empty “group discussions.” My heart sank as I realized that these students were not really being educated at all, and that they would face many difficulties as a result. The expectations had been set too low, and they were missing out on learning opportunities that their peers were enjoying.

Once I began teaching college-level English, I met many students such as those I observed in high schools, who were not adequately prepared for the rigors of college study. They had been passed from grade to grade, but they never really learned the material they needed to be successful in college. That pattern of social promotion and a lack of preparation must be broken now, and that is why those of us at the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) are so supportive of higher educational standards for all students. No longer will we have one standard for children living in wealthy suburbs and another for students in the heart of our largest cities. No longer will we have one set of standards for “college bound” students and another for students “destined for the workforce.” Instead, all students will be held to higher standards, the Common Core standards, which will challenge them and prepare them for real-life and academic success.

This Toolkit provides many resources to guide parents and students toward academic success. Combined with hard work and a mindset to succeed, you can make this year your best ever. The Toolkit will connect you with the standards for each grade level in reading and math, will help you find help completing homework successfully, and will assist you in identifying after-school programs in your area. Just as a toolkit would help you build a fence or even a home, this Educational Toolkit will help you build an educational future that will endure.

A solid education is precious, and I hope your students will make the most of it and learn all they can. May this new school year be the start of an exciting and rewarding educational journey that will last a lifetime.

As you read through the resources included in this Education Toolkit, I hope you’ll take time to read through the standards for your students’ grade levels. This is just one of many resources we’re providing to help you encourage educational success and a love of learning for your children and in your community. As parents and church leaders, your commitment to student success will pave the way for tomorrow’s leaders – for the children in your homes and your pews are the future leaders of this great country.

Carlos Campo

Chair, Educational Directives, NHCLC

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