Nine months ago next Tuesday, my life changed forever. An attorney called from Ogden, Utah and said, “If you can fly here tomorrow, we have a newborn baby you can adopt. Excited & euphoric, Leslee & I jumped on expedia, hopped on an airplane & flew to Salt Lake. The next morning, just 36 hours old, our 5 pound newborn adopted baby girl Siena Alexandra left the hospital in our arms.
Born to a wonderful teenage mother, our daughter is 100 % Latina. We are proud of her rich ethnic heritage. We are also concerned by what we have learned about the lack of educational achievement of too many Latino young people not only in Ogden, but also here in Silicon Valley.
Right here In Santa Clara County, three out of four Hispanic girls do not pass the minimum requirements to be eligible for college. For Hispanic boys, it is even more alarming – with more than four out of five not meeting those basic college eligibility requirements.
Right here In Santa Clara County, only three of every ten sixth grade Hispanic students were proficient in mathematics.
Right here in Santa Clara County, nearly 60 percent of the High School Drop-outs in 2009 were Hispanic, even though they account for less than 35 percent of the High School student population.
That is why this Friday, right here in Santa Clara County, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group is partnering with NASA and numerous high-tech companies to host our Inaugural “Women & Girls Leadership Summit” at an ethnically rich, but economically poor, middle school in downtown San Jose. Peter Burnett Academy, with a student population that is 96 percent non-white and 86 percent Latino – is a great school with wonderful children, but who also face challenges that many of us will never know. More than 76 percent of these kids qualify for the Federal Governments “Free & Reduced Lunch Program” and nearly 50 percent are English Language Learners.
This Friday, we hope to take a positive step to reverse the current educational trends. The reason is simple – these are wonderful, hopeful kids, not hopeless statistics. That is why we are bringing on campus to directly dialogue and interact with nearly 450 middle school girls, more than 150 women tech executives and public official leaders. Congressmember Jackie Speier, NBC Bay Area Morning Anchor Laura Garcia-Canon, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, Metric Stream CEO Shellye Archambeau and dozens of others.
Free this Friday? Join us. Visit the Silicon Valley Leadership Group web site and click on the “Women & Girls Summit” icon on our home page. Come to inspire young girls. Leave inspired by them.
Care to comment? You can comment on this or my past “Food for Thought” Commentaries by clicking on “The CEO Show” icon on the Leadership Group Web Site.
And now, back to my colleague Dennis Cima to wrap-up tonight’s show.