The Road To Freedom
By Manuel Hernandez
The November 2nd elections defined Latinos as the vote that marched through the road to freedom. With the highest turnout ever, Latinos have finally opened the gates to their pathway. The road to freedom provoked a lot of before, during and after electoral debate, but Latinos met the challenge and cruised to victory. With an increase of 5 percent of the Republican vote from the 2000 elections, it is clear and present that Latinos will have an opportunity to voice issues and concerns and make their presence felt in all avenues of the American highway.
The Latino preschool, elementary, secondary and high school population is growing and has now become part of an important story of the largest minority ethnic group in the United States. Much of the recent rise in minority enrollment in elementary and secondary schools may be attributed to the growth in the number of Latino students. The issue of education is key to Latinos, who are less likely to receive a quality education than most other Americans. In one of his recent political rallies, President Bush stated "the role of government is to help people realize a dream, not stand in the way of dreams." The road to freedom is rough and bumpy, but Latinos dream and have realized that their dreams are founded in the educational empowerment of the people.
After they numerically proved in the past elections that they should not be taken for granted, the education of Latinos must be a top priority for the President's administration. Census projections go as far as placing them over the 100 million mark by mid-century, but the numbers are meaningless unless Latinos decelerate high school drop out rates, national testing scores and other educational pit stops. However, despite the fact that Latinos have recently made some major gains, disparities still exist in academic performance between Latinos and non- Latino White students.
In the Narrative of The Life of Frederick Douglass by Terry M. West, young Frederick's owner prohibits his wife to read to him because it was dangerous and against the law. The words of the slave owner sank deep into Douglass' heart and motivated him to read, learn and educate himself. The rest of Douglass' legacy is recorded in American history. Latinos must decisively take advantage of this moment in history and drive through the road to freedom. The road to freedom is a pledge to educate and empower children and send them on an envisioned road to promote the educational excellence that all of them deserve. A generation after the historical “I Have A Dream” speech has paved the way to provide all America’s children with quality education and excellent academic standards.
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.