Education Summit at the Wolfson Campus
By Sergio Candido
The Chapman Center at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus was replete on Sept. 30, when the leaders of three of the most influential public institutions in the county came together for an unprecedented town hall meeting called “Education in South Florida: Challenges and Solutions.”
The event, organized and transmitted live by Univision Radio, was conducted entirely in Spanish and moderated by WQBA 1140 AM journalist Oscar Haza.
Alberto Carvalho, Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent; Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón, president of MDC; and Dr. Mark Rosenberg, president of Florida International University constituted the expert panel.
A second panel composed of members of the media was there to ask questions, along with dozens of students, concerned parents and teachers waiting to interact with the education leaders.
During the two-hour meeting (from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.), the panelists shared their ideas on how their institutions will contribute to improving education and how to bridge the gap between the needs of the community and the funding available.
Journalists pointed toward security as one of the main topics, based on the recent acts of school violence around the county.
“Security is a priority that has to be shared by the whole community,” Carvalho said.
“The concept of responsibility and respect doesn’t start in school, it starts at home with the education that the family provides the child with.”
According to Carvalho, Miami-Dade County has spent $60 million in funds to improve school security.
MDC students were more concerned about the increasing matriculation fee at the college and whether or not the price for credit classes will decrease.
“We can’t do anything for the price of matriculation to go down, to continue providing you with quality education the only way is to increase matriculation fee,” Padrón said.
“However, I don’t think you are going to find any other college in Florida where the matriculation is more reasonable,” Padrón added.
Rosenberg said students hoping to enter FIU also face tougher challenges.
“We have the obligation to provide each eligible student with a space. Unfortunately due to cuts in recent years, we have had to restrict admittance,” Rosenberg said.
The focal point of the event for most attendees was the Dream Act, a legislation that if passed, would grant undocumented students the possibility to attend college and pay in-state tuition.
“We have been fighting for years to try to pass the legislation; I think it’s our moral duty to make it happen,” Padrón said.
Carvalho believes that every student should have the right to an education.
“We have to change the law and we have to change it now,” Carvalho said.
Rosenberg said that there are 2,000 undocumented students that can’t continue their higher education in Miami-Dade County alone.
"We can’t do what we would want to do because we have to obey the states’ laws, we’re waiting for the laws to change,” Rosenberg said.
Many students were glad that the event was conducted in Spanish.
“I like that it was in Spanish because that way I can get my parents who don’t speak English to be involved in what’s going on,” said Amhet Nuñez, 20, a North Campus student.
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