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National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference Joins Christian and Conservative Leaders in Support of Common Core State Standards

Governor Jeb Bush, Governor Mike Huckabee, Dr. Nicole Baker Fulgham, Dr. Karen Swallow Prior, Catholic Educators, encouraged by NHCLC support

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 5, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), regarded as the leading voice for the 16-million-strong Hispanic American Evangelical Christian community, today joins Christian and conservatives in their support of  the Common Core State Standards. The NHCLC, called "America's Largest Hispanic Christian Organization" by TIME magazine, is rallying its 40,000 member churches and Hispanic Evangelicals behind Common Core as a matter of biblical justice and equity. The organization is launching a national education initiative to educate members about the benefits of the Common Core State Standards for Hispanics and low-income students and to mobilize church leaders to support implementation of the standards in local schools.

The Common Core State Standards are a prioritized, clearly stated list of skills a student must master in each grade level in order to be on track to succeed at college level work. The standards, adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, are the logical next step in the nation's efforts to improve public education for all students. The Common Core standards were found to be higher than existing standards in 37 states in English and 39 in math, as well as on par with the standards of top scoring international countries. With higher, more focused standards across states, expectations for math and literacy skills are equally high for all students regardless of zip code. (http://www.corestandards.org/the-standards)

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the NHCLC, notes that although the Hispanic population in the U.S. is expanding more quickly than any other ethnic group, children born to Hispanic mothers are the most likely to be raised in poverty. "For years many states have set expectations too low for all our students, but particularly those from low-income schools, where many Hispanic children are educated. Rigorous standards must be available to all children, especially those in poverty who need clear signals of what skills they need to succeed in college or a career," Rodriguez explains. "Offering high educational standards to all students is an issue of biblical justice, because all children are made in the image of God as described in Genesis 1:27. Common Core offers schools the opportunity to positively impact the future of Hispanic children and all children who live in poverty."

Hispanic high school students are graduating at a rate over 10 percent lower than their white peers.[i] Those who do graduate high school find their diploma an empty promise. As far too many students were told they were on track, only to fail in college level work. Fifty-eight percent of Hispanics who make it to college do not graduate.[ii] So, it should not be surprising that 72 percent of Hispanics are placed in remedial classes at community colleges, where over half of Hispanics access higher education.[iii]

"Hispanic adults are less educated than any other ethnic group and the numbers of jobs that need a college degree are only increasing. Without question, our children, especially minority and immigrant students, must participate in an educational system that equips them with the necessary acumen and skills to compete. In order to honor the image of God shared by all children, we are committed to empowering all students with the foundational tools for success by holding all children to high educational standards. This is why I wholeheartedly endorse and support the Common Core State Standards," Rev. Rodriguez attests.

Numerous conservative and Christian leaders welcome the support of the NHCLC as they work together to achieve educational equality for all American students, including:

--Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush:
"The key to reigniting social mobility and maintaining American competitiveness lies in giving every child access to the best education on the planet. Unfortunately, right now, just 25 percent of American high school graduates are prepared to succeed in college or the workforce. One of the greatest mistakes we make in education is underestimating the capacity of our children to learn. Raising expectations in our schools is critical for ensuring every child has the opportunity to realize his or her full God-given potential. Thankfully, states across the nation are heeding this call to action and raising academic standards. I applaud Reverend Rodriguez and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference for their leadership in championing the state-driven Common Core initiative and their commitment to achieving a high quality education for all students." 

--Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee:
"The Common Core State Standards were initiated as Governors and state leaders were talking about what we could do together to raise standards–not a Washington solution, but a voluntary effort on the part of the leaders of the states . . . .the original intent was to empower states and local school board to make all decisions as to curriculum.  Many states are now taking back ownership of the standards. No one wants federal control, federal curriculum content, or data collection of individual students, but having consistent standards is not something to be afraid of; indeed it is something to embrace." 

--Lorraine A. Ozar, Ph.D., Director, Center for Catholic School Effectiveness, School of Education, Loyola University Chicago, Member of Executive Committee for Common Core Catholic Identity Initiative:
"Christians care about rigorous educational standards within both public and private schools. As a matter of social justice, we owe every one of our students an education based on rigorous standards that equip them with college and career- ready skills for the 21st century.  We agree with the NHCLC's support for CCSS as a strong vehicle to achieving increased rigor, and we invite other people of faith to join us in creating schools that are both academically excellent and integrated with faith-based values."   

--Dr. Nicole Baker Fulgham, former teacher and founder of The Expectations Project:
"As a parent and a person of faith, I welcome the voice of the NHCLC as we work together to support high educational expectations for every public school, including those in low-income communities. The Common Core Standards are an important step in this direction, particularly when they are coupled with meaningful steps to ensure that all students who are significantly far behind have the support systems required to meet them and teachers are trained to effectively implement them."

--Dr. Karen Swallow Prior, Professor of English, Liberty University, Author of Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me:
"From the carving of God's commandments on stone tablets to the narratives and letters circulated within the early church, from the painstaking preservation of the scriptures at the hands of medieval scribes to the Protestant Reformation's birthing of the printing press and the invention of the modern university, ours has been a faith centered on the Word—and words. The kind of careful readers the Common Core literacy standards seek to develop are exactly the kind of readers that people of a Word-based faith seek to cultivate, too: readers encouraged to develop command of textual knowledge, to ask reverent questions of the text, to rely on textual evidence making judgments and drawing conclusions, and to demonstrate these skills by producing their own skillful texts. In short, the Common Core standards of reading promise to revitalize the fading art of reading well. For Christians, this is indeed good news."

--Patricia Weitzel-O'Neill, Ph.D. Executive Director of the Barbara and Patrick Roche Center for Catholic Education, Boston College, Member of Board of Directors for Common Core Catholic Identity Initiative:
"The Common Core State Standards are a valuable tool for all who work to prepare students for life in the 21st century, especially within Christian education systems. The Common Core affords faith-based schools the opportunity to clearly articulate our own missions while integrating faith traditions and values across standards-based curriculum of our own choosing. We should welcome the opportunity to align our goals with a common set of rigorous academic standards, since administrators and educators remain free to determine the content of the curriculum and coursework of our schools."

The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the nation's largest Christian Hispanic organization, serves millions of Hispanics and represents more than 40,000 churches, emphasizing "seven directives" of Life, Family, Compassionate Evangelism, Stewardship, Justice, Education and Youth. http://www.nhclc.org

[i] Christopher Swanson and Sterling Lloyd, http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/06/06/34analysis.h32.html?intc=EW-DC13-TOC

[ii] Radford, A.W.; Berkner, L.; Wheeless, S.C.; and Shepherd, B. 2010. "Persistence and Attainment of 2003–04 Beginning Postsecondary Students Six Years Later." http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2011/2011151.pdf. p. 8, Table 1. (The statistic is based on a measure of all students' (part-time and full-time) completion of any credential at the first institution a student attended, within six years of enrolling.)

[iii] Mary Ann Cooper, "A Portrait, by the Numbers, of Hispanics in Higher Education," The Hispanic Outlook for Higher Education, May 13, 2013, retrieved from http://www.hispanicoutlook.com/top-100-schools/. And Complete College America. Remediation: Higher Education's Bridge to Nowhere.

SOURCE National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

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