To ensure that the interests of Latino students are being strongly represented, CEO Byrd-Bennett has commissioned an advisory panel made up of passionate leaders from Chicago's Latino community.
The Latino Advisory Committee (LAC) - the District's first-ever Latino-focused taskforce - is designed to increase engagement with the Latino community and enhance the educational experience of Latino students.
"Latinos make up the largest portion of CPS's student population," said Caroline Crozier, a member of the LAC. "This Council is in a unique position to understand their needs and attributes, so our collaboration with CEO Byrd-Bennett and senior leadership can build a lot of momentum for long-term success."
The LAC includes 13 members representing a vast array of community voices who are vested in the futures of Chicago's children. They will make recommendations to CEO Byrd-Bennett on policies, programs and curriculum that are of particular importance to Latino families, including dual language programming, ELL funding and accountability, the development of an interdisciplinary Latin and Latin-American curriculum, and the need to create a stronger pipeline of highly-qualified bilingual teachers.
"We look forward to working alongside our community partners to inform District policies and practices that will best serve the unique needs of all our students and families," said CEO Byrd-Bennett. "The new Latino Advisory Committee will enhance the ongoing dialogue between the District and the communities in which we serve, and will help us to improve student access to the programs and curriculum that are fundamental in ensuring our students are 100 percent college ready and college bound."
The LAC will meet on a monthly basis, with sub-committees on teacher recruitment, parent engagement and the seal of bi-literacy convening in between the larger group meetings. Caroline Crozier, who is a member of the sub-committee on parent engagement, was encouraged by what was accomplished at the first of these meetings.
"We met with several CPS staffers, including representatives from the Office of Family and Community Engagement, and came away with a solid framework for several possible initiatives," she said.
Crozier is the founder of CSC Learning, and has volunteered for more than two decades with the League of United Latin-American Citizens (LULAC) – the nation's largest and oldest civil rights organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. She has contributed to numerous educational causes and is considered by many to be a visionary in the field of instructional technology – an expertise she hopes will prove valuable to the LAC.
"Historically, the Latino community has been more hesitant than other groups to embrace technology," said Crozier. "But mobile devices are changing that, especially those that don't require a person to be fluent in English. We need to embrace that this is where we are as a society and be willing to communicate with our families in both traditional and non-traditional ways."
According to Crozier, creating the LAC puts both a public and personal face on services that have long existed for Latino families within CPS.
"Sometimes the messenger can be as critical as the message," she said. "When the message about Latino initiatives is coming from us, it improves the credibility of what CPS is trying to accomplish."
For more information on the Latino Advisory Committee, including a complete list of members, click here.