Rossier Alumnae and Faculty Lead Discussion on Latino Success in Higher Ed

Maria Ott PhD ’94 & Darline Robles PhD ’94

Maria Ott PhD ’94 and Darline Robles PhD ’94

Two USC Rossier alumnae, faculty, and former superintendents were part of a panel discussion about how to increase Latino success in higher education at The School Superintendents Association (AASA) national conference on February 13.

Maria Ott PhD ’94, former superintendent of Rowland Unified School District, and Darline Robles PhD ’94, former superintendent of the Los Angeles County Office of Education, joined colleague Carmella Franco, former superintendent of Whittier School District, to explore the reasons behind the lagging Latino demographic in higher education and how school officials could steer a new change in equity for all students.

The panelists noted that Latinos are the largest minority in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2000, the United States had 35.2 million Latinos, which grew to 51.9 million in 2010. The projection for 2020 is 63.8 million.

“If we fail to educate the largest growing part of the population, we won’t succeed,” said Robles, a professor at USC Rossier who heads a new master’s program to prepare K-12 school principals. “We won’t be able to achieve the greatness that our country has done for 200 years plus.”

As of 2010, less than 1 percent of Latinos in the United States held a doctorate or professional degree. Only 5 percent had their master’s degree with only 10 percent holding a bachelor’s degree. In order for the Latino rates in higher education to leap out of the teens, the panelists said, earlier education levels play a major role.

The three presenters, who also co-authored the 2011 book, A Culturally Proficient Society Begins in School: Leadership for Equity, published by Corwin, opened up the discussion to audience members, who asked how to start the conversation at their schools and districts.

“A lot of those conversations deal with belief systems,” said Maria G. Ott, executive in residence at USC Rossier. “We wanted to tell you and remind you that it deals with Common Core, and it’s an opportunity to weave in conversations. Common Core won’t work unless you have the conversations of issues and equity.”

Read the full story: Raising the Latino Demographic Begins With Attention, Panel Says