By Michael McFarland
Assistant Editor
and Dennis Rivera

Only 13 percent of Latinos receive a college degree, compared to the overall 39 percent of American adults who receive a degree, Jose Rico, director of the White House initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics shared.
“One of the big issues here is how the state deals with funding for education, as well as Latino enrollment rates and performance gaps in school,”  said Rico.  “Immigration is another issue and we are finding that people are not completely informed about what the president has done.”
More than 300 community members and officials were in attendance of the first Hispanic Community Action Summit here at LCCC to discuss topics of concern facing the Latino and Hispanic student population.

Director of White House initiative on Education Excellence, Jose Rico, speaks tp more than 300 guest at the historic Hispanic summit held at Spitzer Conference Center Feb 18 photo by Carolina Urdaneta

“At the end of the day what we want to see is action steps we can take together,” said Rico. “It’s about participating and moving things forward.”
Democratic rivals competing for the 9th district, U.S. Representatives Dennis Kucinich, D-Cleveland, and Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo both were in attendance and addressed the audience in Spanish.

“My hope is that the people in attendance, particularly from Lorain, will advise the White House on their concerns about jobs, the economy, immigration, and health education; we couldn’t be at a more important place then Lorain County Community College to do that, “ said Kaptur. “I hope that there will be continuing relationships that are forged with the different departments, with the White House itself, for people here in Lorain County and throughout Ohio. I think it’s a wonderful and rare opportunity for us.”

After hearing President Obama mention Cleveland and Toledo in his State of the Union address, Kaptur said she almost fell out of her chair. “He has us on his radar. The fact that he saw this part of the region of the country, to me, gives us a tremendous opportunity to add Lorain to where the White House really focuses. I think it is a wonderful opportunity for us to build bridges, “ said Kaptur.

“We have to make sure that we pursue a path that upholds all of us,” said Kucinich, a supporter of the federal Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. (DREAM Act)  In his address to the panel, Kucinich recalled a story regarding the DREAM Act from a young man he had met in Arizona. “If children cannot dream, what have we done to them? We have an obligation to give our children a dream,” Kucinich said and emphasized the importance of have a strong legal structure in which allows our children to go forward in the future “with a full education that they are entitled to have.”
The practice of sending top officials to events such as town hall meetings has been a staple of the Obama’s administration, said Rico. Over a dozen more summits are planned for the remainder of the year.

An estimated 300 people participated in the 14th Hispanic summit hosted across the country since July. Hispanic community leaders, educators, business owners, and state and local officials filled the Spitzer Conference Center at LCCC to discuss education and immigration, two chief concerns in the Hispanic community. The next stop will be San Antonio, Texas on March 9. Washington’s top officials hope to continue the momentum they gain with every summit heldobligation to give our children a dream,”   Kucinich said and emphasized the importance to have a strong legal structure on which allows our children to go forward in the future ” with a full education that they are entitled to.”