A report published last week highlights the challenges faced by Latinx education leaders in North Carolina. 

The bilingual report is called “Nuestra Esperanza,” which translates to “Our Hope.”

It was created by nonprofit LatinxEd, which is focused on improving North Carolina’s education system for Latinx students, families, teachers, and leaders. 

LatinxEd Executive Director Elaine Utin explained what sparked the research for this report during a virtual discussion last week. 

“One of the big findings from a listening tour we did two years ago was that Latinx leadership was really critical to advancing Latinx student success," Utin said. "And so this led to this inquiry of learning more about what do Latinx education leaders need to thrive? What are those conditions that we need, especially at a system level?”

According to the report, many Latinx individuals face barriers to pursuing a college degree and entering the education field. Elizabeth Herrera spoke about this from her perspective working with Latinx youth. 

“I have students in eastern North Carolina who are eligible for financial aid, but are paying out of pocket for their community college education because they were scared to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)," Herrera said. 

She says there’s a lack of information and bilingual support for Latinx students, especially in rural areas. 

Dayson Pasión, a teacher advisor for Governor Roy Cooper, says representation is also an issue. Roughly 20% of the state’s K-12 student population identifies as Latinx, but that’s true of only about 4% of educators.

“Being able to have school and district leaders that understand the community, that speak the same language, or languages, that understand what students and teachers are going through in our community is something that's severely lacking," he said. 

The report also covers what motivates Latinx education leaders, which includes their families, immigration stories, and finding hope in the next generation of students. 

Amy Diaz covers education for WFDD in partnership with Report For America. You can follow her on Twitter at @amydiaze.

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