Friday, October 16th, I attended my quarterly meeting with fellow Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs-OCHA commissioners quarterly meeting in Medford, Oregon. The one-day visit allowed the commission to connect with the southern Oregon Latina/o community. The morning was dedicated to participation in the LEAP education conference, and a quick huddle to take care of the Commission’s business, including: resolution on the DREAM act (City of Portland), letter in support of Benton County District Attorney John Haroldson to U.S. Attorney District of Oregon (via Senator Ron Wyden/Senator Jeff Merkley) and inquiry on a Medford discrimination case against a Latino resident.
In the afternoon, local Latina/o community members and the commissioners engaged in a conversation with The Honorable Pedro A. Cortes, Pennsylvania Secretary of State and Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian (via teleconference). Additionally, Oregon Attorney General John Kroger joined us to share his vision to civil rights for all Oregonians and his summer visits to the state’s farmworker migrant camps. We closed our Medford public meeting with a 45-minute briefing on Oregon’s Hispanic Advancement and Challenges in Higher Education. University of Oregon Professor Charles Martinez provided a stunning correlation, among other stats, between the high-growth of Hispanics in K-12 vs steady-growth of Hispanics in the Oregon University System. What was striking was the fact that the two charts did not match, and I came away thinking that should current trends continue may not be sustainable for Oregon’s socio-economic future. Why? Oregon’s current, and future depends largely upon an educated workforce ready to innovate, compete and attract business in a highly globalized market. The future will largely depend on whether we can educate Oregon’s largest and fastest-growing ethnic community in the knowledge, skills and abilities of 21st century demands to grow Oregon. If you are interested, OCHA’s next public meeting will return to the Salem Capitol building in January 2010. Look forward to meeting you then!
Commissioner David Molina, a community activist, has served on the Commission since April 2006 and served as Vice Chair from July 1, 2008 to July 16, 2009.