Thursday, August 12, 2004

Education Corner


A Vision in Education
By Manuel Hernández

Thanks to the National Democratic and Republic Conventions, the two major political candidates for the Presidential position outlined their proposals of a vision in education. The educational challenges experienced in the United States have usually been identified with the fluctuating political circumstances of the government of tenure. Whether it is one or the other the political party in power, the educational policies and strategies implemented take a 360-degree U-turn every four or eight years. These on-going and neverending changes have proven to be a disservice to our children who are the ones mostly affected by the everlasting transitional stages of those in power. That is why a specific, concise and definable vision in education must be established by the educational community (parents, students, teachers, counselors and administrators) with the input, feedback and support of the government but without the intrusion of sorts.
Research and statistics have supported the fact that a quality education is much more than a fixed set of norms, rules and regulations. A vision in education begins in the heart. It has to be written in the hearts of all those involved in the process. Once upon a time, there was a teacher who lived, loved and gave his life for his students. In a far and distant land, another teacher changed the course of a nation by defying violence with non-violence and peace. In the United States of America, a Southern Baptist preacher and teacher revolutionized the heartbeat of America with his struggle for liberty and justice for all. It is a profound sense of commitment that goes beyond petty social, political, cultural and religious differences and elevates objectives to stimulate critical and creative thinking. Prior knowledge and past experiences are stored in the heart. Love is the element that inspires them to come out. As a consequence, a healing stage flourishes and enables students to express themselves academically and become excellent pro-active participants in society.
Authority, grace, character, family, service, creativity and excellence are seven of the twelve values of the vision. Many of our students have fallen prey to adversity. The national high school school dropout rate, low national testing scores and teenage pregnancy are just three of the dilemmas that our children face today. A vision teaches them how to react and respond in times of testing, trials and tribulations. It is the development of character with identity and dignity. Finally, a vision recognizes that all students are a valuable resource, and it is up to educators to develop the potential that exists in them.
How do we define a vision in education? First, we must restore faith in ourselves. This is a process in itself. In many aspects, the American culture promotes negativism. From prime time gossip, to gibberish talk shows on the radio to the exploitation of young and beautiful women on television, our children have been fed with bad news, crime and rumors, but we can overcome these negatives by overwhelming ourselves with “positives”. Second, we must do it ourselves. John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what the government can do for you but what you can do for your country.” The vision is much more than institutional; it is individual. Third, we must impart it to others. Share by grace what by grace you have received. Make time to write, design, create and share; no strings attached. Last, deeply believe that you were called to carry out the vision. As you share it with others, its consequences will generate supernatural blessings for you and your loved ones.

(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

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