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ALAS Founder Speaks to Newly Formed State Chapter

posted Jul 24, 2012, 9:03 AM by ALAS deNuevoMéxico   [ updated Jul 24, 2012, 9:08 AM ]
ALAS has come full circle in Albuquerque, where the national organization that supports Latino education leaders was conceptualized nearly a decade ago.
    Ricardo Medina, one of the founding members of the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, recalls how a small group of Hispanic leaders who were in Albuquerque to attend a national conference in 2003 decided to form an organization to address the educational needs of the Latino community. The late Joseph M. Vigil, a former Albuquerque Public Schools superintendent, was one of those leaders.
    Nearly 10 years later, Medina is back in Albuquerque, this time to address the fledgling ALAS de Nuevo México. He will speak to members at 4 p.m. today, July 24, in the Sandia Room at the Embassy Suites in Albuquerque (map).
    Medina, a retired superintendent and former ALAS president, has a few words of advice for the New Mexico chapter: come together as a community to work on closing the achievement gap, lowering the drop-out rate and increasing the graduation rate among Latino students.
    “There is a need for Latino administrators, a need to think about the next generation,” Medina said. “Students need role models.”
    Media said only 250 of the more than 15,000 public school superintendents in the United States are Latino. In Southwestern states where Hispanic students outnumber Anglos, the numbers are dismal – only about 10 percent of the superintendents in Texas and California are Hispanic. New Mexico fares a little better – about 23 percent of its public school superintendents are Latino. Still, there is a need for better representation, Medina said.
    “We have a responsibility to give back to the profession by training the next generation of leaders,” he said. “We need to build confidence in Latino students, to make sure they know they can achieve, that they can and should take the next steps in their education.”
    ALAS, both at the national and state level, helps play a role in spreading that message. Both organizations are growing quickly. The New Mexico chapter, only a few months old, has nearly 150 members. The national organization has seen its membership spike to 400 to 3,000.
Those interested in joining the national ALAS can visit its website. Sign up for state membership at the state chapter's website. Membership is free.
    Medina said improving education among Hispanic students is an economic development issue. “The demographic trend shows that the labor force in the future – the labor force now –is largely Hispanic,” he said. One way to address that issue is through education.        
    According to ALAS, by the year 2025, Latino children will make up 25 percent of the school-age population in the nation. Large states like California, Texas, Florida and New York have reached or surpassed that level. More than half of the public school students in New Mexico are Hispanic, according to the New Mexico Public Education Department. Nearly 60 percent of students in Albuquerque Public Schools are Hispanic.
    Addressing the needs of the fastest growing community in the United States - the Latino community - is vital to our national interest,” Medina said.
ALAS is committed to identifying, recruiting, developing and advancing Latino school administrators in order to improve the educational accomplishments of Latino youth.
    “Collectively, we are stronger as a group when we speak with a united, common voice representing organizations at the local, state, and national level regarding policies and issues that affect all of us,” Medina said. “With a strong national presence, ALAS, with its state affiliates, speaks with one voice representing Latino/Latina school administrators regarding improved educational attainment for Hispanic students and English Language Learners.”
    Medina, who is the longest serving board member of ALAS, also is director of its Superintendents Leadership Academy. Two APS principals – Yvonne Garcia of Rio Grande High and Martin Sandoval of Eldorado High – are candidates for this year’s class.
    Medina said he appreciates all the support received from APS Superintendent Winston Brooks, who is a member of both the state and national ALAS.
    The newly formed ALAS de Nuevo México is holding its meeting during the annual conference of the New Mexico Coalition of School Administrators. The agenda for the meeting includes an overview of the state organization, story sharing, committee assignments and establishing short- and long-term goals. School administrators from across the state are invited to attend.