Roughly 32 years ago my father began the process of planting his family’s roots in the Silicon Valley (more specifically in Palo Alto) with a mission to empower his family. From this high-tech bubble of innovation and entrepreneurship, my father took this spirit of possibility with him to the Central Valley where my siblings and I were born.
Years later I am now retracing my father’s steps with a mission to empower students, particularly Latino youth and those from low income homes. What better place to do this in than in an area where innovation is at the core of everything.
Latinos in the Silicon Valley currently make up roughly 26% of the total population and it is estimated that by 2040 we will be the largest ethnic group. In order for all community members to flourish, it is imperative that we take a look at the state of our students’ educational achievements and become part of solutions that help expand upon opportunities and possibilities for sub-groups.
When looking at Latino youth in the Silicon Valley 1/3 of 3rd graders are proficient in reading. While this may seem like a low number (and it is) there is great promise in the efforts taking place because these numbers are steadily increasing. In addition, 1/4 of high school seniors are college ready and this number is also growing. However, if we are to be on par with the 52% of non-Latinos who hold a B.A. compared to our 15%, there are many systems that need to simultaneously take effect if these numbers are to continue to grow steadily.
On the flip slide, there are other figures that leave us to pause and ask why. 1/4 of Latino students drop out of high school in the Silicon Valley and this number, sadly, is rising. In a world so immersed in STEM, our Latino students are falling behind in this area as well. In Fremont and Homestead high school, for example, only 11% of Latino 9th graders were proficient in algebra.
I aim to be optimistic, to believe in the collective ability to empower, and to be part of a solution so that one day I can say que aqui estamos los que dijeron que si se puede and we made it happen.
Broken Promises: The Children Left Behind in Silicon Valley Schools (2013) published by Innovate Public Schools
Silicon Valley Latino Report Card (2011) published by the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley