Latino Edge Magazine


'Think Babies' Should Be the Motto of All New Parents

By Erendida Lopez

When I was a toddler, my parents weren't as involved in my early development as I would have liked them to be for several reasons, including work and language barriers. I didn't know at the time, of course, how important it is that parents understand and fulfill the critical role they play as their child's first teacher, but I still sensed that something was missing. I knew early on that when I started my family, I wanted to be 100 percent involved in my own children's lives and education.

I've learned so much since then about the importance of early engagement with my baby and early brain development, thanks to organizations like ZERO TO THREE and the Pediatric Therapy Network's Early Head Start program. My husband and I are much better parents thanks to their expert knowledge and guidance which has meant invaluable benefits for both our children, 7-month-old Baby Cruz and 5-year-old Christian.

Cruz and I made a deliberate decision to become fully engaged parents once our first son, Christian, was born. Even though we worked at different times of the day, I work in the evening and he works during the day, we shared responsibility in creating a fun learning environment for him. Recognizing the value of the early learning support we received with Christian, we didn't hesitate to enroll our second child in the Well Baby program, the outreach program for newborns.

And it's because we were involved from the start that we learned Christian needed pediatric therapy for speech and cognitive development. Having a child assisted with development issues that most parents take for granted is a difficult undertaking but there are advantages in being part of your child's therapy routine.

The professionals, including registered nurses, who administer the therapy also provide parents with information on the benefits of healthy eating and living, the ability to create nurturing environments crucial for learning and how reinforcing learning habits help build a foundation for strong academic success later in life.

Having this knowledge and insight has transformed our approach as parents and how we view our role as teachers in our babies' development.

But it shouldn't take a developmental issue for parents to focus on the early learning aspects of their toddler or newborn baby. Learning should be an integral part of their daily activities. Babies should grow up enjoying learning as they enter pre-K or Early Head Start programs. Forming the foundation for learning will help them later in life as adults and give them a sense of focus.

The science is clear - babies' brains grow faster between the ages of 0 and 3 than at any later point in life. In fact, their brains form more than 1 million new neural connections every second. I've learned that when babies have nurturing relationships, early learning experiences and good health and nutrition, those neural connections are stimulated and strengthened, laying a strong foundation for the rest of their lives.

Organizations like ZERO TO THREE have created awareness programs to inform parents and policymakers about the significant role early interaction and planning plays in the lives of infants and toddlers. Their social, emotional and overall cognitive development grows exponentially from birth to three, impacting a child's life-long learning abilities.

I would urge parents with backgrounds similar to mine to not let language barriers, income levels or lack of a formal education interfere with your role as your child's first teacher in life. Find the programs available in your community that are right for you and your baby. Seek out the expertise of organizations like ZERO TO THREE and learn what resources are out there to help create that learning foundation for your baby. Talk to your local elected officials about why it's so important they support quality early learning programs.

We can all make a difference in a child's life from the start if we know the facts and science behind development, are aware of programs and services set up to help us as parents and urge our representatives in state government to create or maintain early learning programs. It all starts if we collectively Think Babies.

About the Author

Erendida Lopez is the Chairwoman of the Pediatric Therapy Network Policy Council and she and her husband Cruz are the parents of two young sons, with one attending a local early head start program.



Twenty-seven (27) candidates are running for governor this election cycle and with the primary election on June 5th we have examined the credentials, successes and plans of the five candidates leading the field. In the final analysis we are endorsing Antonio Villaraigosa for Governor of California.

Villaraigosa’s story is compelling. Fighting his way through high school, dropping out, recovering and eventually graduating from UCLA and law school to becoming the Speaker of the State’s Assembly and a two-term Mayor of Los Angeles.

With education a top-of-mind issue for California’s voters, according to a recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California, it is imperative our next governor have a background and history in dealing with major issues related to the public education system in the state.

Villaraigosa has history with recognizing issues with public education and doing something about it.

As mayor of Los Angeles, he took on the challenge of changing the culture of the Los Angeles Unified School District working to place the control of schools under the mayor’s office - as it is done in cities like New York. This meant taking on powerful union organizations. Though he lost his bid to control the direction of the district, Villaraigosa showed the strength of character to acknowledge change is needed and that the system is failing our kids.

A strong coalition builder, Villaraigosa’s ability to bring factions together throughout his history is impressive. Without these skills many of the living projects and continuing infrastructure work in Los Angeles would not have been possible.

Villaraigosa is not without flaws both personally and professionally, but he has delivered in the public interest progressive planning and programs that have changed the landscape and improved the quality of life for many.

Maintaining California’s position as a power player in the world economy will require bold and direct actions to improve the quality of our workforce and encourage innovation from our business and entrepreneurial communities. Our next governor must have the discipline to design a well thought out plan, while at the same time possess the political will to launch it - despite the risk of upsetting the status quo.

For these reasons, we encourage your vote for Antonio Villaraigosa on June 5th for Governor.

State Senate District 22

The San Gabriel Valley is a behemoth in terms of economics and transportation issues serving as a corridor to downtown Los Angeles and the Inland Empire and a pass through to Pasadena and the Port of Long Beach for millions each year. Diverse in its population including a majority Latino followed by Asian Pacific, Chinese and Vietnamese covering Glendora to Temple City and Rosemead and San Gabriel to the City of Industry with Irwindale included.

Departing State Senator Ed Hernandez has carried the district well enough leaving the seat open to a newcomer to institute new ideas or carry the status quo.

Top contenders running in the June 5th election are Mike Eng, current member of the LA Community College District Board and Baldwin Park City Councilwoman Susan Rubio.

It’s clear progressive ideas are needed to serve the growth and future of the district and we believe Susan Rubio will serve those needs for the business community and working families and individuals who call the 22nd District home.

Rubio represents change having an inside view of current issues facing the district while maintaining a third-eye perspective on the legislative process from outside of Sacramento. As an educator, teaching 4th grade for the past 17 years, Rubio is forceful and passionate about her goals and role in public service and we believe will be the better champion of local interests including education, entrepreneurial enterprises and public safety.

Eng, in our opinion has maintained a role in various elected offices with moderate outcomes. It seems to us that others with qualifications to represent should be given the opportunity to serve and present a fresh perspective.

We, therefore, endorse Susan Rubio for the 22nd State Senate race on June 5th.

Ya Basta! It's Time To Go

State Senator Tony Mendoza must resign, now.

Posted December 11, 2017

California State Senator Tony Mendoza has issued an awkwardly written holiday letter to "neighbors, family and friends" exalting "the climate across our country has changed!" The odd opening refers to the multitude of sexual harassment claims made against prominent entertainment and political figures, including State Senator Mendoza.

   Three women have come forward to allege inappropriate conduct by Mendoza while in his employ and presence. Though Mendoza states in his holiday letter the accusations are vague, the Sacramento Bee has reported detailed accounts by each woman as to the location, actions and time of each of their separate encounters with the alleged misbehavior by Mendoza. Further, the reporting has former members of Mendoza's own senior staff corroborating the accounts.

   Sexual harassment allegations aside, Mendoza has faced a sundry of accusations and odd behavior in his political past. In late 2016, Senator Mendoza was fined $57,000 by the state's Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) for what they called "laundered campaign contributions' violations in addition to reprimanding Mendoza for failure to report income from a failed real estate transaction.

   While representing the California Latino Caucus, Mendoza was forced out as chairman after members of the caucus grew concerned over his leadership and agenda. And early in Mendoza's career the then Assemblyman posed in his state office as a gang member for no apparent reason.

   There is a pattern here where one can argue that Mendoza has lost sight of his purpose as an elected official and has gone off the rails. It could be further argued that Mendoza's inability to stay out of the cross hairs of allegations, conspiracy and negative press are more than just coincidence or political schemes to harm him and his reputation.

   The bottom line here is the constituents of the 32nd Senate District are not being served properly and have already undergone the fiasco of former district representative State Senator Ron Calderon and his brother Tom Calderon and the horrendous mishandling of the Montebello Unified School District.

   Mendoza's take on these new allegations of sexual misbehavior: "It is most unfortunate that some media have looked to capitalize on the national climate and chosen to generate news that is controversial in order to gain rating shares allowing them to sell expensive time to advertisers."


   This total dismissal of the sexual harassment claims and blaming the media for "generating" news is a clear example of the lack of leadership Mendoza has shown for years. Mendoza has quipped about the fairness of the review process before it began and now is shifting blame on what he claims is a national fervor by the media to sell advertisement by reporting allegations of male aggression against women.

   These women have clearly wrestled with their decision to come forward with warranted fears of backlash in their professional work, personal reputation and public scrutiny. Mendoza is not in an election, has no high profile legislative package or bills and would otherwise be a nonfactor in the capitol, making his political scheming assertion to be far fetched.

   We agree there should be a process to review and process all allegations of sexual misconduct, while at the same time we don't believe this is a "climate" but rather an exposure and reckoning of historic patterns of certain men.

   Mendoza's prior actions and missteps alone were cause for concern, if not a recall. Knowing that he has replaced a convicted felon who was charged and found guilty while in the state senate, Mr. Mendoza should have kept his nose to the grindstone and worked tirelessly to resurrect the dignity of the office to rebuild trust with constituents in the ability to represent.

   Instead they received a holiday letter blaming the media and "fake news". Where have we heard this before?