Sesame Street Has a New Latina In Town


Sesame Street welcomes a new Latina character to the iconic children’s show and her name is Nina. The character is the latest in a number of new faces added to the long running children’s program. Nina is a college student working several jobs to fund her education. She is able to pay for school working at the shop, laundromat, and babysitting Elmo.

The young Latina character is bilingual and “uses her wit, compassion and charisma to help the furry residents of Sesame Street solve their daily dilemmas, providing a positive role model for preschoolers,” according to the Sesame Workshop.

“Sesame Street is constantly evolving and has a long-standing history of modeling a diverse community,” as stated on the character description for the official site. “As producers took note of changing demographics in the United States, it was important to represent this diversity in the new addition to the cast.”

Nina is portrayed by 26-year-old Miami born Cuban-American actress Miamian Suki Lopez who is no stranger to diversity in her life and filled with pride to represent Latinas in her role as Nina. “Its funny-you’re so proud to be Latina. I’ve never met somebody who’s so proud” Lopez recalled in a phone conversation with New Times. Lopez responded politely with confusion “Why wouldn’t I be?”

The Cuban-American hopes her Latin pride is clearly seen on the show. “I want to make sure that [my acting] comes cross that I’m proud to be Latina and [that if you’re Hispanic] you should be too,” Lopez said, according to the News Times. Lopez joined the cast for the 46th season. The new addition follows the departure of the beloved first Latina character Maria who exit in 2015 during the 45th season after being on Sesame Street for 44 years.

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Angelica Perez-Litwin who created the petition for Sesame Street to have a college attending Latina on the show said this when speaking of the positive affect it could have “a great opportunity to highlight a millenial Latina who is pursuing a college or graduate degree, or who’s running her own business.” Dr Perez-Litwin believes sending Nina to college will inspire an entire generation of children to do the same.

You can watch Suki Lopez as Nina on Sesame Street daily on PBS’s KLRN at 1pm and on HBO/HBO Latino Sundays at 9am.



More Teachers of Color Needed in Classrooms

The student body in America has become increasingly diverse, yet according to The Study of Racial Diversity In the Educator Workforce, a report released recently by the United States Department of Education, racial diversity amongst staff doesn’t reflect the same change.

During a talk given at Howard University, the second top ranking Historically Black College and University in the country, Education Secretary John B. King, Jr said,

“Without question, when the majority of students in public schools are students of color and only 18 percent of our teachers are teachers of color, we have an urgent need to act. We’ve got to understand that all students benefit from teacher diversity. We have strong evidence that students of color benefit from having teachers and leaders who look like them as role models and also benefit from the classroom dynamics that diversity creates. But it is also important for our white students to see that teachers of color in leadership roles in their classrooms and communities. The question for the nation is how do we address this quickly and thoughtfully? “

The new study, which was released early March, shows that during the 2011-12 school year, 82 percent of elementary and secondary public school teachers were white in comparison to 51 percent of public school children being white. “In contrast, 16 percent of students were black, and 7 percent of public teachers were black.”

In addition to teachers being mostly white, the reports states that “for the most part, principals are also a racially homogenous group.” For nearly a decade the percentage of white public school principals have been between 80-82 percent.

To reverse these trends, or to at the very least incorporate some diversity within schools programs like Teach Tomorrow in Oakland aim to recruit and develop programs to have whatever racial demographic a student population leans towards be reflected with teachers.

In addition, President Barack Obama’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget incorporates a variety of proposals that offer to alter the diversity issue.

38 New Bilingual Programs to be Introduced in NYC Schools


New York City schools are expanding 38 bilingual programs in many different languages for the 2016-17 school year, the Board of Education announced last week.

The expansion includes 29 Dual Language and nine Transitional Bilingual Educational programs that will be implemented across 36 schools in New York City.

Hoping to serve over 1,200 students in the City, the goal of the programs are to educate ELLs (English Language Learners) and English-proficient students to become bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural. By achieving this, those who speak a common home language will receive instruction in their native tongue with intensive support in English. After time, the students will receive more instruction in English than their first language.

“As a former English Language Learner, I know that a strong education makes all the difference, and these new bilingual programs will give students the foundation to succeed in the classroom and beyond,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “Speaking multiple languages is a tremendous asset for students, families, schools and our entire City, and it is my goal to further expand these programs. Through their participation in these programs, students will learn new cultures and parents will be welcomed into classrooms in different ways.”

The programs will be separated into 27 elementary schools, seven middle schools, and four high schools across the five boroughs. The languages in these programs will include Chinese, French, Haitian-Creole, Arabic, Polish, and Spanish.

Poor College Students Lives Matter

Access to college for low-income students has become easier since the passing of the 1965 Higher Education Act, but graduation rates for those receiving financial aid show a disparity amongst their wealthier peers.

Annie Waldman of Propublica writes,”An estimated 51 percent of Pell recipients – students whose families typically make less than $30,000 year- graduate from college, compared to 65 percent of non-Pell recipients.” The inequality is causing attention.

Last year, Propublica in conjunction with government data, featured a new tool to determine the debt students face by institution and found that while some colleges offer financial support, many don’t guide students onto a successful career path afterwards. Some don’t admit students based on their financial merits alone.

During last years State of the Union Address, President Obama urged Pell Grant inflation, in order to alleviate stress for recipients in financial need. Between the years of 2008 and 2014, Pell Grants have on average reduced the cost of education by $3,700 dollars.

The United States Department of Education is urging postsecondary institutions to improve the relationships they have with low income students, who more often than not tend to be minorities.



City Makes Plan to close down troubled schools in Brooklyn

City department of education officials have announced that they plan to close down three troubled schools in Brooklyn in June. The schools in jeopardy of officially closing include The School for the Urban Environment Foundations Academy High School and Peace Academy Middle School all of which have had low performance rates since Mayor DeBlasio came into office.

The school has produced low standardized test scores and a decrease in enrollment for years; the 217 students that attend these schools will be placed in other schools for the upcoming school year. Teachers and other administrators will also be placed at different city schools when the failing schools officially closes their doors.

NYC teachers make the grade in survey held by the state

New York City and State teachers were rated as being the most effective during the 2014-2015 school year. The test that was released on Monday showed that 92% of teachers made the final grade for this year and increase from the 2013-2014 school year where 91% of teachers were considered to be effective educators.

The ratings are based on students test scores from standardized tests and the observation of teachers that were conducted by school principals this tactic is used to either grant tenure to teachers or fire them. However teachers in public schools were rated as being 84% effective during the 2014-2015 school year a slight decrease from their rating of 85% during the 2013-2014 school year.

NYC Students College Ready

The Department of Education deemed that only thirty-five percent of New York City high school students were considered to be college ready when they graduate on Tuesday.

The number has increased since 2014, when it was reported that only 33 percent would be college ready. The 2015 report was released along with school quality reports,which is intended to measure the progress of more than 1,800 schools across the city.

Students are deemed college ready if they can start college at the City University of New York without needing to take remedial courses in Math and English.