Five Specific Steps to Improving Hispanic Achievement

By Clinton, Bill | Black Issues in Higher Education, September 28, 2000 | Go to article overview
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Five Specific Steps to Improving Hispanic Achievement


Clinton, Bill, Black Issues in Higher Education


One of the things I have learned traveling across America is just how diverse Hispanic America is, something that a lot of Americans really don't know yet. I think there is a common core of values around family and community and work and faith, but Hispanic America is growing more diverse every day with different challenges and, unfortunately, still different opportunities. There are still a lot of gaps we all want to close.

The first step to closing the gap is to believe, as I do, that high expectations are for all students. I believe intelligence is equally distributed throughout the world, but opportunity is not.

Hispanic students are showing in this academic success, but still, too many are lagging behind in ways that I find deeply troubling. A recent study by my Council of Economic Advisors shows that the average educational level of native-born Hispanics has increased substantially over the last several decades, and the gap between Hispanics and Whites has declined.

Compared to 1993, Hispanic students are scoring higher on math tests; greater percentages are completing high school, graduating from college and getting advanced degrees. Since 1993, the percentage of Hispanics with four or more years of college has increased, but only by about 2 percent. Over the next decade, the number of jobs requiting at least four years of college will more than double.

The study shows that Hispanics, who represent 11 percent of our work force, hold down just 4 percent of the jobs in information technology. When the fastest-growing demographic group in our country is under-represented in the fastest-growing employment sector, it means less opportunity and a violation of the values that we all share. It also means that, sooner or later, our economy will have a shortage of highly skilled workers where we really need them.

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