April 29-30, 2019 marked the third annual Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS) Legislative Assembly and Advocacy on the Hill, and the fifth annual ALAS Leaders in Education Awards Gala. ALAS believes in using policy and advocacy to ensure high standards and quality in the public education system for all students. We had the opportunity to attend the event, along with leaders in education and policy from across the country, including the ALAS Superintendent Leadership Academy (SLA) Cohort VIII.
The legislative update was held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. The day was full of educational sessions on current legislation and policy, including the Higher Education Act, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and education technology issues including the E-Rate program. Attendees also heard about the importance of the 2020 Census, and efforts that will be made to help underserved and underrepresented populations fill out the form and be counted.
Attendees learned how to make the most out of our time while on Capitol Hill, including how to prepare for visits with congressional members, how to structure the visits, and what follow-up should be done after the visits. A common thread through all of the conversations was that equity must remain at the forefront, particularly how to best support students and teachers.
I joined Dr. Cesar Alvarez, assistant principal, Houston Independent School District in Houston, and Dr. Ricardo Garcia, chief operations officer, Plainview Independent School District, Plainview, Tex. for their day on Capitol Hill. We met Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and talked with his education aid about education issues experienced in Drs. Alvarez and Garcia’s school districts, as well as the importance of federal financial support.
The two days ended with the Leaders in Education Awards Gala, an annual awards dinner which recognizes and celebrates Latinx leaders. Jessica Martinez-Vasquez, a student at the University of Boulder, Colorado, delivered a powerful keynote, telling her story of growing up as an undocumented student and finding her way through college. The Latinx Superintendent of the Year and the Latinx Administrator of the year were among the awards that were given out. View the program to see all the awards and winners. The room was filled with excitement and accomplishment for all the work that has been done to increase the number of Latinx leaders in school districts across the country. ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning is proud to partner with ALAS on this and many other activities throughout the year.