Latino Leadership Education Summit takes a closer look at Latino students

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Latino students make up more than half of the student population in California but they face many obstacles when it comes to graduation and pursuing higher education.

People from across the country came together at Fresno State for the California Latino Leadership Education Summit to take a closer look at Latino students. "The amount of students that are actual dropouts of school in the Central San Joaquin Valley is so high, its an emergency," said Joel Murillo, California Latino Leadership Network chair. Murillo says educators and officials want to help solve this problem.

At the summit, educators shared research specific to the Central Valley, but also insight into programs. Speaker Frances Contreras says it starts at an early age. "Sixtey-percent of Latino students in the state of California are not enrolled in preschool, compared to other communities that have higher percentages. What it does is it sets up for this uneven track from the starting gate in terms of kids being prepared for the education system."

She says that impacts students and can not only prevent them from graduating high school, but also from finishing college.

Former California Supreme Court justice Cruz Reynoso pointed out the economic barriers to higher education that could be changed. Reynoso says when he went to college, he paid nothing out of pocket. "The reality is that's tied to politics because the legislature was providing the funds that were needed for community colleges and for graduate schools at that time and now we don't have that."

Educators from kindergarten to college were a part of the discussions.

California Latino Leadership Network plans to do research with Fresno State in the Valley to help Latino students close the gap.
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