U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke about the need for higher education standards at the East Coast Chicano Student Forum in Copley Formal Lounge on Oct. 10.

The event, Narcocultura: The Effects of Drug-Trafficking on Latino Communities, was sponsored by Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán de Georgetown.

“I need the next generation of great talent to come back and teach,” Duncan said.

About 1 million teachers will retire within the next few years, Duncan said. He urged students at the conference to look into careers in education.

Duncan also spoke about the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, which will allow students who immigrated into the United States as children to have greater access to higher education and jobs. The bill has not yet been passed by Congress.

“The Secretary addressed the importance of the DREAM Act, a topic that hits close to home for many MEChistas,” said Brenda Garcia, the conference chair for M.E.Ch.A. “I was pleased to hear him praise and pledge his support for the DREAM Act.”

Duncan said that the U.S. education system needs to improve at all levels. He stressed the need for higher education standards throughout the country and for the closing of the opportunity gap.

“I worry a lot about the lack of college-going culture in Latino communities,” Duncan said.

Garcia said that education is an important issue in Latino communities.

“The secretary of education gave an amazing and strongly motivational speech,” Garcia said. “Since his audience was composed of Latinos from competitive institutions not just at Georgetown but from all over the East Coast, I know that his speech inspired many to give back to the community by teaching in inner city or impoverished school districts.”

The main focus of the event was the effect of drugs on Latino communities.

“Our conference at Georgetown served to inform students about drug-trafficking and how it impacts our community as well as highlighting the value of education as a means of helping to solve problems which arise in our community,” said Noemi Beltran, one of the public relations coordinators for the conference.

.E.Ch.A de Georgetown is a student-run campus group whose main goal is to discuss and educate students about Latino culture, community and politics.

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