Where do we go from here?
By Manuel Hernandez
There has been a lot of talk about the results of the November 2nd elections and the role Latinos played in the general outcome.
According to the founder of The National Hispanic/Latino American And Migrant Agenda Summit, Peter Fontanés, “the victory of President George Bush has resulted in some very interesting developments, and they will certainly impact our communities in ways never before seen.”
I agree and foresee further developments in the days ahead. Notwithstanding all the post-election events and post-electoral debate, I am sure all agree that Latinos made an impact like never before and are now ready to contribute and take their place in American history. But where do we go from here?
Education is the key that unlocks the door to a new world of opportunities here and anywhere in the world. Without education, Latinos merely survive and risk their existence and role. Assessment is a process by which one learns more about oneself -what ones likes, what one does not like, and how one tends to react to certain situations. Knowing these things can help one determine which areas and situations need to be improved. Latinos have been assessed in all areas: crime, immigration, home ownership, business, health and education, just to mention a few.
Education is where we Latinos need to go. The core areas are parent school improvement, not just saying it but providing a sound and solid voice for Latino parents. City and state evaluations must include disaggregated student achievement data, academic objectives for each subgroup and the percentage of students not tested, high school graduation rates and the professional qualifications of teachers.
Education must be visionary and culturally sensitive. Federal involvement is needed in this area by supporting programs and activities that include academic enrichment services, art and music education, math, science and computer literacy tutoring services and mentoring programs. The key Latino role models which may include NBA Latino sports stars, entertainers, young Latino entrepeneurs, rising Latinos in business, education and publishing must be available to come in and reach out to the younger Latino teens in dire need of guidance and support. Additionally, programs that provide after-school activities for limited English-proficient students that emphasize language skills and academic achievement, telecommunications and technology education must be encouraged.
The vision for quality education is a good, engaged, caring and involved parent. Let us take advantage of The No Child Left Behind Act provisions which would help parents of English language learners make informed decisions about their children’s education, such as which program of study is best for helping them learn English and academic course work. There is a plan and it must be placed in action. We are all in awe of the Latino growth and unequivocal influence in all of America's institutions, but we Latinos must put priorities in order. After our loyalty to the Almighty and the Latino family, the education of our present and future generations must be the priority in the days ahead.
Manny Hernandez contributes commentary about education issues to Puerto Rico Sun. Hernandez may be reached at 787-355-0099 or by mail: HC-01, Box 7717, Luquillo, Puerto Rico 00773.