Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Gop, Dem Party Conventions Highlight Hispanics' Top Issues in Their Platforms

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Gop, Dem Party Conventions Highlight Hispanics' Top Issues in Their Platforms

Article excerpt

Republican and Democratic Hispanic delegates, speakers and office holders were clearly visible and heard during the back-to-back Republican and Democratic presidential nominating conventions in July in Cleveland, Ohio, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Both parties' platforms contained policies of particular interest to Hispanics.

While many of the platform positions reflected media stereotypes, there were surprises as well. The biggest difference in platform policies involved higher education and immigration.

The most audacious Democratic platform proposals are to "make community colleges free" and all college students "debt free" by graduation. "Money and costs should not stand in the way of getting a college degree or credential nor should college debt hold you back when you graduate" the platform states in a separate section "Making Debt Free Colleges a Reality."

The Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton calls it the "New College Compact." "Every student should be able to go to college debt free, and working families should not have to pay any tuition." The call for "bold new investments by federal and states in education ('investments' meaning usually revenue raised from taxes or government bonds)" as well as "colleges holding the line on costs."

'Ibis reflects a finding by a comprehensive survey of Latino voter issue priorities by Latino Decisions and the Latino Victory Project presented to the Democratic Convention's Hispanic Caucus on March 27. "College affordability" was identified to be the top issue of Democratic Latino voters in battleground states: 71 percent," Matt Barretto the co-founder of Latino Decisions pointed out.

The Republican Party platform's higher education focus, however, was on the rising costs of college; a subsection of the platform titled College Costs. "The cost of a college education has long been on an unsustainable trajectory" the platform claims. But Republicans strongly believe that government "investments" are not the solution. "The federal government should not be in the business of originating student loans but rather private sector participation in student financing should be restored. Regulations that increase college costs must be challenged against its negative economic impact on students."

The Republican platform on higher education also focuses on perceived increasing violations of First Amendment "freedom of speech" rights violation at U.S. universities. It also addresses what republicans see as the abuse of Title IX to withhold educational funds for "wrongly defined sex discrimination" accusations.

The Democratic platform does not address the campus "political correctness, micro-aggressions and limited free speech" issues that have been the subject of much recent media coverage, however. Instead, they dedicate two subsections on issues of higher education that are of importance to many Hispanic heritage students: "Cracking Down on Predatory For-profit Schools" and "Supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions."

Closing down for-profit "professional" schools is a tricky issue for Latinos although none of the Democratic delegates addressed the conundrum during the convention. But many Hispanic families find the shorter study times and professional certificates of good for-profits can better fit their needs than a vague bachelor's degree in a ffour- to six-year college that may not lead to specific professional jobs. The platform promises to strengthen HSIs and restore year-round Pell funding that some democrats have routinely voted against.

Immigration Reform

It would seem by the extent of media coverage that the biggest presidential election issue of 2016 is immigration. …

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