Sometime this year in the maternity ward of a California hospital a Latino baby quietly but significantly will change the course of history. That child will tip the demographic scales in this state changing what it means to be a member of a “minority group.” Latinos will surpass whites as the largest “ethnic” group in the state. And while that simple fact has generated significant discussion, anxiety, hope and some hand-wringing, we took that opportunity to ask ourselves a simple question: What kind of future awaits that child?
As parents and family members we share in the concern for that child’s future. One of our board members is a mother who gave birth to her first child last year.
As Californians, we also have come to believe that the success of the Latino community plays a critical role in our state’s success. The emergence of a strong Latino middle-class is vital to our state’s economic recovery and future.
As elected officials representing cities, schools, special districts and community colleges in Southern California we also believe we have a responsibility to all babies – Latino, white, African-American, Asian – to continue to build a successful California, a place that lives up to the ideal behind the so-called California Dream.
And, finally, as Latino policymakers we have chosen to take action to address that question by committing ourselves to a higher standard – to work to become better policymakers, more effective managers of our respective schools and city resources and more ethical leaders.
There is no doubt the Latino community faces critical challenges in California. Those challenges have been repeated so often many have become clichés; high dropout rates from our high schools, low enrollment in higher education, childhood obesity, limited access to quality health care, no jobs or low-paying ones – the list goes on.
As leaders in our respective communities we dedicate ourselves to work together as elected officials and in partnership with community and advocacy organizations to meet those challenges head-on.
That is why we came together to form the Southern California Latino Policy Center. We are local Latino elected officials coming together to support each other and create better policies for our communities – for all communities – to improve the quality of education for all children – to find ways to create better jobs and stimulate our local economies.
We have committed ourselves to work towards a better future for that child.