Hispanics: New Awareness, New Force for Progress

By Donado, Yvette | The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, August 26, 2013 | Go to article overview

Hispanics: New Awareness, New Force for Progress


Donado, Yvette, The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education


More than 10 million Hispanic voters are credited in great measure for President Obama's re-election. That milestone event launched a buzz that continues today. What does the heightened attention mean for us and our nation?

Our top challenge: harnessing Latino political and economic power to address the most pressing issues, especially education and the related issues of immigration reform, jobs, health care and housing.

No matter how immigration reform pans out, as a society we must marshal the talents, resiliency and aspirations of newly enfranchised residents and new citizens. The sheer number of Hispanic Americans - those learning to speak English and second-generation young people now in college and entering the workforce - requires a national 'will to integrate them fully into our society. This means increased educational opportunities, job training and capitalizing on their work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit. If we can do it, our economy will grow and the numbers consigned to an enduring underclass will decline.

Education for Latinos shows promise: reduced dropout rates, increased higher education enrollments, greater awareness of students' needs, and valuable new research on positive aspects of Hispanic children's social and language skills. But challenges remain.

Replicating successes on a larger scale remains a hurdle. Many nonprofits lack resources to expand their programs beyond the populations they now serve. Parents Step Ahead (PSA), for example, a model organization that educates parents about their children's education, is extending its program from its base in Dallas to San Antonio.

Like PSA, countless Hispanic organizations are doing amazing work with few resources. The challenge is how to apply their best practices and take the best programs to scale. I don't have the answers, but publicizing their successes is a critical first step.

The Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS) and its executive director, former Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund attorney Veronica Rivera, represent Hispanics and others on the front lines of education. …

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