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Cleveland to pitch high-tech studies to Hispanics

CLEVELAND – Cleveland schools have agreed to promote high-tech math, science and engineering programs to Spanish-speaking students.

The push will resolve federal concerns about the small number of Spanish-speaking students in STEM programs specializing in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The district has almost 1,700 Hispanic high school students, but only 130 attend STEM schools, according to The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.

Cleveland schools have agreed to promote STEM programs to Spanish-speaking students and others with limited English skills as part of an agreement with the civil rights office of the U.S. Department of Education.

In the agreement announced this past week, the federal agency said it’s important that the pipeline to STEM programs “be open to all students.”

One issue that the agency highlighted is the lower number of STEM options in Cleveland neighborhoods where the Hispanic population is concentrated.

Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for the Office for Civil Rights, said her office investigated the district because of concerns about access to STEM programs.

“I’m really impressed with the district for what it has agreed to do going forward,” Lhamon said.

Hispanic community leaders said efforts to raise awareness of educational opportunities for Hispanic students give those students a better chance at graduating and succeeding.

Jose Feliciano, chairman of the Hispanic Roundtable, said leaders have been concerned that schools like the Cleveland School of Science and Medicine have few Hispanic students.

But, he told the newspaper, “I never had any sense that they were keeping kids out. They just weren’t doing affirmative things to get kids in.”

Victor Ruiz, executive director of the Esperanza community organization, said he has been bothered by the lack of Hispanic students in STEM programs. But Ruiz said that he believes the district was already focused in recent years on improving opportunities for Hispanic students.

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Information from: The Plain Dealer, http://www.cleveland.com

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