Vail Daily column: Hurtful assumptions | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Hurtful assumptions

Carol Koch
Valley Voices

The Oct. 15 editorial by Don Rogers entitled “Our two valleys” makes an erroneous assumption. Mr. Rogers states that students “living in poverty” might have parents that “do not fully understand the value of an education in America.” Given the focus of the article, he must be referring to Eagle County’s Hispanic/Latino community. I would like to know how Mr. Rogers came to such a conclusion. What evidence might he provide to support this claim? Consider the following:

The Edwards campus of Colorado Mountain College is serving 270 students who are studying English as a second language this semester, fall 2015. The vast majority are members of the Hispanic/Latino community. It is projected that the ESL program will serve 600 students during the academic year 2015-16. Additionally, 40 Hispanic/Latino students will work to earn their General Education Development certificate during this academic year. These numbers reflect a 29 percent increase over the previous academic year.

In CMC’s credit-bearing classes, 23.6 percent of students identify themselves as Hispanic/Latino. The number is most likely higher, since the data also show a 55 percent increase in the number of students who declare their race/ethnicity as “unknown”.

These students are coming to CMC to study and earn degrees in addition to a busy work schedule and family life with the goal of furthering their education. Many of the ESL students are parents with children in Eagle County Schools. They are serving as educational role models for their children. Many students in credit-bearing classes are also parents. Many are graduates of our local high schools.

Last year, the Youth Foundation began the Parent Mentors Program. This program is for parents with children enrolled in Eagle County Schools. The purpose of the program is to help parents develop advocacy and leadership skills in an educational setting. Parents enrolled in the program become classroom volunteers in local schools. One hundred percent of participants in the program are members of the Hispanic/Latino community. In its pilot year (2014-2015), the program had 24 enrollees with four schools participating. This year, the program has jumped to 40 enrollees with nine schools participating, which clearly reflects a strong desire on the part of Hispanic/Latino parents to become involved in local schools. This program provides an avenue for participation, and the community is clearly taking advantage of this opportunity.

Less compelling but of some value is my personal experience. My children attended June Creek Elementary School and Berry Creek Middle School. My youngest son is still at BCMS. Both of these schools have a demographic which is predominately Hispanic/Latino. I have witnessed the engagement by parents from all parts of our community. I have seen individual parents from the Hispanic/Latino community stand up and take on leadership roles.

Unsubstantiated assumptions are hurtful to the community.

Mr. Rogers also states that he knows “we have well qualified citizens of Hispanic descent” who could be leaders. I would ask him to encourage these individuals and help them understand the process required for participation.

Carol Koch lives in Edwards.

Write a column!

Share your insights with the rest of the community. Send your submission to ValleyVoices@vaildaily.com. By submitting a column, you are granting permission for the Daily to publish it on the paper’s website.