September 26, 2008

Latino educational leader in San Diego is recognized

By Pablo Jaime Sáinz

A local parent and education organization will honor a leader in education for Latinos in San Diego County.

The non-profit organization Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE) will recognize Dr. Alberto Ochoa at an event on Sunday, September 28, “for more than 30 years of advocacy, inspiration, encouragement, and motivation to the Latino community and San Diego State University.”

Ochoa, who is retiring this year, is Professor Emeritus in the Policy Studies in Language and Culture Department at SDSU and a lifelong advocate for quality education for minorities, especially Latinos.

As a professor at SDSU, he was responsible for recruiting and training hundreds of bilingual teachers and teachers who are sensitive to the cultural and educational needs of Latino students.

“We’re celebrating 33 years of Dr. Ochoa’s legacy in education,” said David Valladolid, CEO and president of PIQE. “Certainly his legacy will be his work at SDSU, getting Latinos through the programs to become teachers; his legacy also includes his public policy work, always advocating for bilingual education, for the rights of Latino children and their parents; his legacy will also include encouraging Latino parents to take control of their children’s education.”

Ochoa, who was born in Mexico City and moved to Los Angeles with his family as a child, said it is an honor to receive this recognition from a group of parents.

“I’m proud to see that these Latino parents, many of whom don’t speak English, regardless of racism and discrimination, they have the courage to demand the educational rights their children are entitled to,” Ochoa said. “These parents, even if the have to work two jobs to support their families, are involved in their children’s education. They are an example for all the community.”

Ochoa co-founded the Parent Institute for Quality Education in 1987 in San Diego and still serves as chair of its board of directors. Today PIQE has regional offices throughout California and the southwest, thanks to the tenacity and leadership of Ochoa, Valladolid said.

“I think he brought to the Parent Institute a strong belief that Latino parents have the full capacity to understand the educational system in order to advocate for the education of their children,” Valladolid said.

He added that currently PIQE serves about 75,000 parents throughout California and the southwest.

Ochoa’s role as an educator extended far beyond the research he did at SDSU or the students he trained to become bilingual teachers there. As an education activist, he continues to advocate for equal educational opportunities for all children, regardless of family income or ethnicity. He also continues to encourage parents to not be afraid to speak up for their children’s education.

“One of the principles I’ve abided by is that the schools belong to our community, that parents need to reclaim their rights to have a voice in their schools,” Ochoa said. “It doesn’t matter if these parents are here legally or illegally, the fact is that we all pay taxes and those taxes pay for schools.”

On October 25, once again he will help with the organization of the Latino Education Summit, at the San Diego County Office of Education. The summit is an annual “state of Latino education” where parents and educators learn more about the challenges and improvements for Latinos in education at all levels.

“For Dr. Ochoa, education is not a sermon or a lecture; it’s a dialogue,” Valladolid said.

For more information on the recognition event for Dr. Ochoa, please call PIQE at (858) 483-4499. All funds raised at the event will be donated to PIQE and Californians Together.

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