Goal of CSU partnership to increase Latino enrollment

Lauren Greenwood

Although the California State University and the Parent Institute for Quality Education, also known as PIQE, are coming to the end of their five-year partnership, they are working together again for “Es El Momento” (The Moment Is Now), a national campaign aimed at increasing Latino students’ graduation rates and enrollment numbers in college.

PIQE is an organization dedicated to increasing college going rates in underserved communities that traditionally have had low college going rates by reaching out to the parents of students in these communities.

PIQE teaches parents the skills necessary to foster a positive educationally focused environment at home and is specific to each grade. Teresa Guerrero, the executive director of the PIQE office in Modesto, said at least 30 percent of the parents of the entire student population participate in the parent course.

The organization works with underserved schools and stresses the need to go to college.

“Given our economic reality, and given our future workforce needs, we need as many students to graduate and obtain a college degree,” said Phil Garcia, executive director of government and civil affairs at Sac State.

Sacramento is the most diverse city in the nation and has many schools with diverse populations. PIQE works with all kinds of communities and offers a nine-week course for parents of students in these communities. Sacramento class sections are taught in English, Spanish and 12 other languages.

“By getting the parents involved in the education of their children, it is more likely that their children will succeed, and they can go to college, graduate, and be successful in life,” Garcia said. “The curriculum covers the topics of home school collaboration, motivation and self-esteem, communication, discipline, drug and gang awareness. Most importantly, (PIQE) introduces the goal of attaining a college education.”

Trained facilitators teach the curriculum. Guerrero said when PIQE recruits parents to enroll, it is also looking for potential facilitators to carry on the program.

In Sacramento, PIQE initially targeted elementary and middle schools, but over the years, high schools became the focus. The 2008-09 year was the first year all the funded programs were in high schools.The program worked with Valley High, Florin High and Laguna High School, and all are in the south Sacramento area.

“All the high school administrators, from what I recall, rave about the PIQE program,” Garcia said.

The success of increasing college enrollment rates is still too early to measure. However, there are schools such as Florin High that are repeat schools in the PIQE program, “which speaks to the sustainability that’s taking place. The administration at Florin believes it’s been successful,” Garcia said. Repeat schools continue to be in the PIQE program because administrators see the successful effect of PIQE and request for the program again.

Students do have tracking cards, and PIQE is trying to gather as much information as soon as students graduate.

Now, with the beginning of “Es El Momento,” PIQE is looking to focus on Latino students. The new campaign has already received support from the U.S. State Department, Univision, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a variety of other college-oriented organizations.

Garcia said although there is not a lot information on a campus level about plans to implement “Es El Momento,” Sac State plans to help with the campaign.

“”Es El Momento’ is just one of several outreach programs launched by the CSU. The CSU is looking to provide critical outreach to underserved students and their communities,” Garcia said.

Daniel Espinoza, junior physical therapy major and member of the Latino multicultural community service fraternity Sigma Lambda Theta, said the partnership between PIQE and Sac State is a positive thing because many Latino youth he knows don’t expect to continue their education past high school.

“I am excited about the “Es El Momento’ campaign,” Espinoza said. “Programs that start at the home front and give students the push are very effective.”

Lauren Greenwood can be reached at [email protected].