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Second annual Delaware Latino Summit looks at education

Anne Hoffman/Delaware Public Media

Policy leaders, advocates and community representatives convened to tackle educational challenges at Thursday’s second annual Latino Summit.

Almost twice as many people came out to this year’s state Latino Summit, and many more elected officials made an appearance as well, including acting education secretary David Godowsky and State Senator Bryan Townsend.


A year ago, the first summit created a public policy agenda that helped produce one clear legislative change - driver privilege cards for undocumented immigrants.


That first summit announced that closing the achievement gap between Latino children and their peers was also a key objective.


This year, leaders have more specific educational objectives in mind, says Javier Torrijos, co-chair of the state’s Hispanic Commission. Torrijos says one goal is expanding the number of teachers who can deliver competent English as a Second Language classes. He also has another goal in mind.


"To be able to get bilingual, certified teachers, that can teach the kids in Spanish," said Torrijos.


For Torrijos, that means, in part, simply hiring more Latino teachers.


"I think that’s important because they can relate to those teachers, not to say that they can’t relate to other teachers, but I think that just helps overall," he said.

Torrijos says he’s not exactly sure how to get more of those teachers in the classroom legislatively, but that the time to do it is now. He pointed to poor state test scores for children of color.

“We need to catch up and we need to catch up very quickly,” he said.

He says defining exactly what to ask lawmakers for will be hammered out in the coming months, but for now, the Commission is committed to increasing the number of culturally competent teachers in the First State.

Torrijos adds he knows that accomplishing legislative goals will be hard over the next year given the state’s 130 million dollar budget shortfall, he’s interested in taking “baby steps”.

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