Girl Scout National CEO, Anna Maria Chávez participated in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s (CHCI) Public Policy Conference. Specifically, Chávez was a panelist on a panel that focused on early childhood education titled, Preparing Latino Students for Educational Success from Day One. The session primarily focused on current early education policy while highlighting strategies that promote Latino achievement and how students, parents, the community, and corporations can work together to support a better early childhood education system. Representative Pedro Pierluisi of Puerto Rico and Representative Albio Sires of New Jersey chaired the panel while Sr. Associate for the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector, Jacqueline Cossentino, and Vice President of the American Federation of Teachers Maria Neira, joined Anna Maria Chávez on the panel.
During her opening remarks, Chávez highlighted the challenges faced by girls, especially Latinas. Specifically, she highlighted many of the findings that effect Latina girls in the forthcoming Girl Scout Research Institute report, The State of Girls: Unfinished Business (Dec, 2013). Some of the key statistics that she touched on include Hispanic/Latina girl preschool enrollment, reading and math proficiency amongst Hispanic/Latina girls, and high school dropout rates. Unfortunately, Hispanic/Latina girls fair lower than girls overall in all of these areas. Chávez highlighted the role of Girl Scouts, and the leadership experiences it offers from an early age to engage girls as well as mothers and other family members. It is important to look at and strategize solutions that will allow Hispanic/Latina girls to be a key investment rather than just a risk factor.
Furthermore, Anna Maria Chávez expressed the importance of government combining its efforts with the nonprofit community to ensure that girls will not fall through the cracks and continue to be at risk. Also, it is important for the Latino community to discover what the issues around the community, and strives to not only connect with those in leadership positions but also to take action by being in a leadership position. This will help ensure that issues that face the community and early education issues remain in the forefront. In addition, she was able to highlight the work Girl Scouts and the Girl Scout Research Institute have done in addressing girls’ early interest in STEM and the need to keep them engaged so they will pursue STEM careers in response to a question from an audience member. Chávez engaged an audience that was full of former Girl Scouts and Girl Scout supporters while highlighting the organization’s efforts to provide girls from a young age with the tools that will enable them to succeed throughout their education career.