MALDEF Calls on Community Leaders, Parents to Advocate for Equity in Implementation of Common Core State Standards

An important initiative is catching on nationwide to assure that public schools everywhere provide education on the same set of core skills and knowledge. Still, there remains much work to be done in ensuring that implementation of common core state standards is completed in the best way to serve all students. As state budgets for education face serious challenges in virtually every state, public school parents, community leaders and education advocates must be involved and stay informed in order to ensure that implementation achieves this goal.

Did you know that before the Common Core State Standards Initiative each state had its own set of academic standards?
Currently, academic standards for each subject from K-12 grade levels are developed on a state by state basis. States set different standards for universal subjects like math and science, providing a range of benchmarks across the nation on what students should learn and be able to effectively master by the end of each school year. These standards are designed to help parents check their child's achievement and know how to best help them succeed in school.

That is changing through an initiative called Common Core State Standards, where 48 states and the District of Columbia worked together to develop a uniform set of common state standards for English-language arts and mathematics in grades K-12 that prepare students for college and career.

Why is this important to Latinos?
Currently the quality of education varies depending on where students live, and some states have higher standards than others. Common Core State Standards help ensure all students, regardless of what state, city or school district they live in, will have access to a quality education.

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Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel, Statement on Last Week's Letter Issued by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education issued a joint "Dear Colleague" letter directing state and local educational agencies to enroll all children living in their districts, regardless of actual or perceived status of student or parent. Nearly thirty years after the Supreme Court decided that the right to public education may not be denied or abridged on the basis of immigration status, last week's letter is the first federal guidance on the rights established in Plyler v. Doe, a 1982 Supreme Court case that MALDEF pursued against Texas schools seeking to demand tuition of undocumented children.

Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel of MALDEF, issued the following statement in response to last week's "Dear Colleague" Letter:

"Last week's federal guidance is a welcome and critical step toward ensuring that the constitutional rights recognized by the United States Supreme Court nearly thirty years ago in Plyler v. Doe are honored everywhere. With an increasingly hostile environment for immigrant Latinos as unscrupulous politicians demonize the undocumented for temporary political gain, the federal guidance is a critical reminder that the right to an education is sacrosanct. Every child has the right to attend public school, and those who would seek to deter or deny enrollment by requesting information on immigration status violate bedrock national principles and risk costly enforcement litigation. Chilling enrollment of any child in school is immoral and illegal conduct."

To view the joint "Dear Colleague" letter, as well as the associated federal "Fact Sheet" and "Questions and Answers," click here.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund