For over three decades the Colorado Association for Bilingual Education (CABE) has advocated for the preservation and development of education policy for student and educators.
“When a federal district court in Texas ruled against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, many of us felt doomed, depressed, and seemingly without direction. Dr. Torres, refusing to go down for the count, showed us that we could get up and fight this fight-right here in Colorado, by working for a state-based DACA.”
Dr. Jorge García, CABE
CABE is a non-profit professional development and civil rights organization. CO-CABE is the only professional organization in Colorado at the state level wholly devoted to representing both the interests of emerging bilingual students and the bilingual education professionals who serve them. Children are the primary concern of CO-CABE and its members, who work to ensure that learning is a reality for every student.
The organization also hosts an annual Concurso de Deletreo/Colorado Spanish Spelling Bee, and the annual Manuel and Kathy Escamilla Orgulloso(a) de ser bilingüe/Proud to Be Bilingual Student Essay Contest.
Each year, CABE hosts their annual Colorado Bilingual Educator and Advocate Award ceremony highlighting the achievements of noted scholars. This year’s in-person event was held on October 23, at the Bella Sera event Center in Brighton, Colorado.
“Thank you, Ramón, for your passion, your advocacy and your leadership over the years…You were selected for this award because you serve as a role model for compassion, and service and you are striving to make the world a better place.”
Dr. Jorge García, CABE
Master of Ceremonies, Dr. Jorge García, CABE Co-Chair, presented awards to the 2021 recipients, Dr. Ramón Del Castillo who received the Federico Peña Community Service Award and Dr. Luis Torres received the CO-CABE Board Award.
García praised Del Castillo for his years as an educator and education advocate. Del Castillo retired in 2019 from his role as Chair of Chicana/o Studies at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
“Thank you, Ramón, for your passion, your advocacy and your leadership over the years. It is my pleasure to award to you, the 2021 CO-CABE Federico Peña Community Service Award. The purpose of the CABE Federico Peña Community Service Award is to honor, on behalf of CABE, an individual, who is making significant contributions to their community through their time, actions, talents and dedication in the field of bilingual education.”
“You were selected for this award because you serve as a role model for compassion, and service and you are striving to make the world a better place. You have shown us your passion for helping others in the community. This year, your actions with the Latino Education Coalition have revived a public awareness of bilingual education in Denver and you have publicly voiced concerns directly to the new superintendent of Denver Public Schools pointing to the needs of emerging bilingual families in Denver. We believe that you deserve to be recognized for your public service in support of bilingual education,” continued García.
“You demonstrate a strong commitment to advocate for and enhance the development of educational policy and programs that will positively affect learners and communities of linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds. Very specifically, your service has caused you to speak truth to power. When the new superintendent of the Denver Public Schools stated publicly that it might be time to end the consent decree between the Denver Public Schools and the Congress of Hispanic Educators you spoke up—‘prove that our students are receiving a quality education and have the academic achievement that they deserve’—those
were not the exact words, but the point is that your words and actions served the community so that now, that action on the part of that institution will not be taken so quickly. This is but one example of your service to our community, a service that is not only needed but has a significant impact.”
García presented Torres with the CO-CABE Board Award, a significant honor from the organization.
“On behalf of the CABE Board of Directors, it is my privilege to present the 2021 CO-CABE Board Award to Dr. Luis Torres. This award is among the most important awards given by the CO-CABE Board of Directors because its purpose is to recognize, on behalf of CABE, an individual, for contributions made to the field of Bilingual Education in Colorado,” said García.
Torres retired in 2016 as Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Deputy Provost for Academic and Student Affairs, and professor of Chicana/o Studies. Torres, previously served as the associate dean in the School of Letters, Arts, and Sciences at MSU Denver, and was co-chair of MSU Denver’s Hispanic Serving Institution initiative since 2007. Torres has received several academic honors, including a Ford Foundation fellowship, two National Endowments for the Humanities fellowships and a California Arts Council Award.
“Dr. Torres has demonstrated a strong commitment to advocate for and enhance the development of educational policy and programs that will positively affect learners and communities of linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds. Dr. Torres has an extensive resume and has been a champion for culture, history, and language. He has many worthy accomplishments that you can find on the internet. That is not why this board is honoring him tonight. He is honored tonight because of the hope that he has given us, the example he has been to us, the path he has shown us, a path that we can and should travel. His work in developing culturally relevant curriculum for students in Denver Public Schools returns to greater prominence this policy failure of the past. His public advocacy for this curriculum is of great importance and impact in our community. The board also recognizes that he has supported and guided the resurgence of the Latino Education Coalition.”
Torres’ many contributions to MSU Denver over the years include his work in service of MSU Denver’s implementation of an affordable tuition rate for undocumented students in 2012 – a move that helped pave the way for the passage of Colorado’s ASSET legislation in 2013. His efforts began a decade earlier following the defeat of the ASSET bill’s initial iteration in 2003.
Torres’ work as former co-chair of MSU Denver’s Hispanic Serving Institution Task Force helped the University to achieve the federal HSI designation.
Although retired, Torres continues to teach in area high schools and remains a steadfast advocate for equitable education.
Speaking to the audience, García said, “Some members may recall that this award was given a number of years ago to another fighter who showed us the way. That board honored Rodolfo ‘Corky’ Gonzalez because he showed us how to fight for our causes in and out of the ring. His passion for education, civil rights, human rights, history, culture and language showed us a path. Similarly, Dr. Torres provided us with a lesson this year that reminds of what it means to be a fighter like Corky was. When a federal district court in Texas ruled against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, many of us felt doomed, depressed, and seemingly without direction. Dr. Torres, refusing to go down for the count, showed us that we could get up and fight this fight-right here in Colorado-by working for a state-based DACA. His lesson to us was innovative, inspiring and challenging. For providing us hope with a plan to get us there and what it means to be a true fighter, he has shown us that we can all be fighters for social justice and human rights, if we only will.”
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