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Moving Forward

Don't be fooled! LEAD is about ACTION!!!

The activities of the LEAD week, with its culminating annual signature Summit (which yearly reach more than 17 million), is the showcase. But behind the scenes, the protractive action, both democratic and collective, definitely takes place.

Over the past decade, the LEAD projects have enacted the necessary groundwork and campaign for our extraordinary new future. Our netroots movement long decided that we no longer have to jump in front of trains or dodge bullets to convince others of our orientation to action.

Put simply, the LEAD movement engages- and believes that the singular accomplishable solution to our educational dilemma lies in community activism and democratic participation.

In fact, most of the work of the LEAD Organization flies well-below conventional radar, at the level of the infra-political, -despite the highly-visible success of the annual Summit.

More than a decade ago, with the birth of the Journal of Latinos and Education, the primary motivation was to build an education movement that was neither primarily ideational nor ideological, but a praxis based on scientific approaches. At the time there were still too few major publications on Latinos and Education. There were research reports published all over the place or in highly specialized books and journals. Further, there was no one comprehensive published review of theory, research and practice on the topic. Despite some seminal publications, Latino issues remained often seen as limited in focus (academic colonialism). Mainstream publications tended to consider Latino issues as peripheral to broader issues in the discipline. Mainstream publications also tended to focus on nationally known "Latino" authors and look only to the work of a few to publish.

We changed that! Today the Journal of Latinos and Education (JLE) provides a cross-, multi-, and interdisciplinary forum for scholars and writers of diverse disciplines who share a common interest in the analysis, discussion, critique, and dissemination of educational issues that impact Latinos. With many thousands subscriptions, downloads and readers, our work informs a basis for current action to address the educational crisis, of which Latino students are emblematic.

Most of us at the time resided in higher education institutions, which are criticized -often for good reason- for our tendency to isolate ourselves from our surrounding contexts and for not being more engaged with the issues that affect the communities in which we are located. Our network agreed that there were important issues that directly or indirectly affected institutions and the multiple communities we straddle, that required us, as faculty, staff and students, to "climb out of the ivory tower," to do the action work that was most relevant for the local context and to employ the findings published in the Journal of Latinos and Education in such a way that they can be used to inform and shape policy.

That momentum enacted the National Latino Education Network, whose electronic portal allowing for exchange among thousands, predated the cusp of the social media revolution. The netroots movement expanded among the broad spectrum of researchers, teaching professionals and educators, academics, scholars, administrators, independent writers and artists, policy and program specialists, students, parents, families, civic leaders, activists, and advocates. Among the primary action items was to compile a Resource Guide/Clearinghouse that allows members to search and browse for resources, opportunities and activities in the Latino Educational community, which was non-existent or incomplete at the time.

Next, the Handbook of Latinos and Education (HLE) had the unique purpose and function of profiling the scope and terrain of this particular domain. It remains the most significant and influential work in Latinos and Education, in terms of its contributions to research, to professional practice, and to the emergence of related interdisciplinary studies and theory. It symbolizes an important transition in Education, and the continual consciousness of Latinos. At core exists the struggle for educational equity and rights, with the conceptualization of social justice embedded, and support structure helping the plight of schools that are underfunded and racially organized in the most stereotypic of ways.

The LEAD Organization was organized to launch this handbook, and has already developed new and imaginative approaches, and action-oriented initiatives, as showcased in the annual Summit.