Why is AL DÍA doing the first ever Higher Education Leaders Summit?
Why not? Latino youth are among the most neglected, and in need of urgent attention from the centers of higher learning at the college and university level.
The way I put it to a Latino friend of mine was like this: why are we so left behind in terms of formal education?
It feels as if previous generations of leaders had neglected their fundamental duty to advocate for more, and better, access to higher education for our families.
At a time when the national economy needs a trained workforce —today more than ever— to keep our region and country competitive, in a bewildering race that is now global, U.S. Latinos can’t remain looking as if they were a liability, or burden on society— when we are exactly the opposite.
Our rich potential can be further unleashed, much faster so that our nation perhaps catches up with the Chinese and the Russians, for example, even if that means that we have to have more “brown grand-babies” (to use Tom Brokaw’s confusing choice of words this past Sunday) who may become genius engineers in Silicon Valley, brain surgeons right here at Penn Medicine, or CEOs at top corporations from NYC to LA, to our beloved city, the cradle of our Democracy.
Just through the magic of education — exactly as my mother (herself barely with elementary school education) taught her 10 children to understand it:
“That is the only wealth I will leave you with… The real wealth that no one, by the way, can take away from you..."
Our region is blessed with dozens of the country’s top universities, 16 of them in the city of Philadelphia alone— and yet these campuses remain surrounded by sore belts of poverty and despair, visible in the distance from the University presidents’ very spacious offices.
It’s a difficult contradiction to understand, much more for Americans to accept.
We believe Philadelphia and its left behind residents (40% under the official poverty level) deserves better than this.
Foundations, plus the public and private sectors, must feel that this is a true national security crisis of greater proportions than those we may be confronting overseas today.
That national security is increasingly endangered as it leaves our nation literally vulnerable, as result of leaving behind entire segments of our city’s residents and nation's citizens —especially those growing the fastest—illiterate, entirely disengaged from society, civic, political and economic life, just because of a lack of the most basic academic and professional experience abounding across our indolent-looking campuses.
Maybe when we accomplish that, when more Latinos, and Latinas, earn many more college degrees every year in and year out, dear Tom Brokaw might not be as concerned anymore that this particular ethnic community “must work harder at assimilation.” Ouch!
That is the reason why we enthusiastically invite all colleges and universities (so reluctant to come at this initial call) from this Mid-Atlantic region to the “AL DÍA Higher Ed Leaders Summit 2019”— this first ever focused exclusively on confronting challenges to recruit Latino students.
The day-long event will be Keynoted by a State-wide leader that came from the Philadelphia Barrio, current Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Mr. Pedro Rivera.
This is an #ALDIALive event, open to the public, scheduled to take place this coming Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Pyramid Club in Philadelphia.
See you there!