Monday, August 02, 2004

Education Corner

Taking Latino Generations to a Supernatural Dimension

By Manuel Hernández

In a universal world where the “natural world” governs many of our educational outcomes, it is necessary that we Latino leaders take the present and up and coming generations to live within a supernatural dimension. For American Latinos to have a leadership role in the world of American politics, education, higher education, science, computers, cyber-space, high-tech and global enterprise, the American educational system must produce supernatural leaders who can become pro-active visionaries in all institutions in the United States. Although Latinos have gained ground in sports, fashion, music and entertainment, they continue to lag behind in education. Thus, a transition from the naturalto the supernatural dimension is essential. Only then will we obtain results and take the Latino generations into a supernatural dimension where academic results become part of our every day lives. In education,results are measured and exhibited in charts, diagrams, statistics and reports.
However, for too many Latinos, the American educational system isa hurdle to high for them to jump. The supernatural dimension demands that we go beyond statistics. The “natural world” depicts a reality, butit is up to all of us to awaken and believe in ourselves. Going beyond the natural may seem highly unlikely, but concrete and specific gains ineducation are the result of hard work, dedication, motivation and inspiration. When Jaime Escalante decided to go beyond traditional paradigms and prepare Latino teens in East Los Angeles for the Advanced Placement Exams, the system labeled him a fool. But when his redefining work transcended and obtained results, even the system became a believer,and the reality was overwhelmed by the supernatural.
The United States Census Bureau expects the number of Latinos to almost double from 35 million to 63 million by 2030. Latinos will make up 25 percent of the kindergarten–12th grade population by 2025. There is no doubt that Latinos are the fastest growing minority and represent a valuable and integral part of the United States. But Latinos are 13 percent of the population, and yet a mere 6 percent in higher education.In many states, Latinos have the highest dropout rate and the lowest test scores, and many are not prepared to enter institutions of higher learning. At the present, only 17 percent of Latino fourth-graders at the national level read at their grade level, and the percentage is even lower in mathematics. As a consequence, Latinos have become aware that the educational development of their community is intrinsically related to their struggles to achieve economic, social and political justice in the United States of America. But we Latinos must begin to cast away traditional ways of thinking and take our children to a different level where we govern ourselves by what we believe in not by what we see with the natural eye.
The assessment and causes are the same for Latinos across America.The strategies governors, mayors and school administrators are implementing are different, but the mirror of assessment does not reflect tangible, definite and transcending results. Why? The process ofimproving educational standards begins with Latino parents. Many Latinofamilies who lack the resources must be empowered to address their children’s needs. Latinos support public education, but they are seekingstrategies to improve the education of their children. For teens to make progress in higher education registration, it is imperative that they receive the educational opportunities that in the past have not been available to them. Why not take advantage of the so-called Latino vote momentum to sway the disussion towards education? Without education,the ever-growing population risks its voice in America.
Educational opportunities become available when we begin actingupon our faith. When we let trifles govern our mindsets, children suffer the consequences. Instead of an on-going and endless futile debate on who is responsible, what language should we speak or what party represents the voice of our communities, let us build and construct upon our values and strengths. The walls of Jericho seemed invincible, but an unpractical but supernatural strategy brought down what naturally seemed impossible.
Declaring the supernatural will take us not only to believe but also to do and act on behalf of our children. It is not the work of one,but one will need to reconstruct and redesign a strategy that will makethe difference and enhance educational standards for Latino children and other Americans as well. Only in the supernatural will the present educational assessment displayed in charts and statistics become part ofthe past. The transition from one level to the next is a process in itself. After anguish, pain and sorrow are buried, a whole new dimensionwhere the supernatural reigns and a new educational horizon surfaces are the outcomes of the sacrifice and efforts of all.

(Manuel Hernandez is the author of Latino/a Literature in The English Classroom, Editorial Plaza Mayor, which is available for purchase. For more information, contact Hernandez.)

Hernandez contributes essays about education issues to Puerto Rico Sun. Hernandez may be reached at mannyh32@yahoo.com.
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