Cleveland will promote STEM studies to Latinos

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 Latino high-school students, but only 130 attend STEM schools.

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 Latino 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.

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

Originally published in The Columbus Dispatch.