|DC Deputy Mayor for Education, De'Shawn Wright Speaks at LAYC Gala 2012|
|Tuesday, 08 May 2012 13:07|
Remarks by DC Deputy Mayor for Education, De'Shawn Wright at LAYC's Gala 2012, May 3, at the Liaison Hotel on Capitol Hill:
Good Evening. Thank you to the LAYC Board, Staff and Executive Director –Lori Kaplan for inviting me to participate in this amazing celebration of young people and groundbreaking accomplishments of the Latin American Youth Center.
For over 35 years, the Latin American Youth Center has been leading the charge to make visible our most vulnerable youth who have long been overlooked and overshadowed.
Today, we see newspaper articles and hear on the radio, stories about the plight of our homeless youth, our high school dropouts, our LGBTQ youth, our parenting and pregnant teens, our overage and under-credited youth, etc. We are more aware than ever before that our nation is facing a serious and urgent crisis of lost potential and talent due to our lack of focus and investment in what we refer to as our "disconnected youth" – youth who were failed by our own systems and thus removed themselves from traditional avenues of education and career preparation.
But long before this became a national crisis, the folks at LAYC were hitting the streets every day and working with these young people to develop and seek creative alternatives that would maximize and leverage their natural talents toward a successful career path and positive transition to adulthood.
When I came to town a little over 18 months ago, I knew that I wanted to ensure a robust education reform agenda in the District. But I also knew that I wanted and needed to include a focus within my agenda, on those older youth who no longer show up to school -our students who are no longer on our radar screen and can't wait for our 10, 15 or 20 year education reform agenda to take hold. These are young people who need us now.
These are young people who need to be found and reconnected to school and work today. They need to be given the chance now to complete their education and attain a post-secondary credential – whether it be a 2 or 4 year degree or industry-recognized certificate or license, so that they can compete in the global economy and provide for their families.
That's why I was so encouraged, when I discovered the great work of the Latin American Youth Center , upon moving to the District - who, after 35 plus years, continue to be leading innovators of programs and services to support older, disconnected youth.
To that end, I am very excited that LAYC has been a key supporter and champion of our emerging Raise DC initiative. By identifying common target goals that we are driving towards across the entire education continuum – from cradle-to-career, we are building a culture where we can move beyond politics and identify, based on data, those models that are working and seek to scale them appropriately so that all District youth have the supports and services that they need to succeed.
As a former teacher and caregiver for my two godsons, I've been witness to the myriad struggles that our children and youth experience on a daily basis. And with that, I've seen so many , in the face of extreme adversity, fight very, very hard to hold on to their education. But sometimes, for far too many of our kids, it does not work out.
Tonight, I challenge us to work as hard as our youth do to survive and persist beyond homelessness, hunger, unemployed parents, single parents, no parents, - to make sure that we use our resources effectively and fully to ensure that all of our young people achieve success, from cradle-to-career.
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