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Professor Manuel Hernández
Essays Collection

Address: : 2012 Ernest St. Kissimmee, Florida 34741

Manuel Hernandez was born in Sleepy Hollow, New York in 1963. He completed undergraduate studies at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus and finished a Master�s in Education from Herbert H. Lehman College (CUNY) in the Bronx in 1994. He has coordinated symposiums, produced and coordinated television interviews on the literature written by Puerto Rican and Latino/a writers from the Diaspora. He has done numerous presentations, workshops and seminars on how to integrate latino/a literature in the English classroom. In 2014, he participated in a TedxTalk (Connections) at Southern New Hampshire University. He is the author of three books, , Latino/a Literature in the English Classroom (Editorial Plaza Mayor, 2003), The Birth of a Rican (Imprenta Sifre. 2008) and Living the Kingdom with purpose (Imprenta Sifre, 2013). He is a Language Arts teacher at Osceola School District in Florida.

Latinos and Educational Reform in the United States
By Manuel Hernandez-Carmona copyright 2008

Although educational reform has been confronted with optimism, Latinos have learned through disillusionment and false expectations and are walking forward to a present and future with educational empowerment. The objective of the contemporary American educational system is to create critical thinkers who will become pro-active participants in society. Consequently, the educational advancement of the American Latino community is directly related to their struggles to achieve economic, social and political justice in the United States. There are so many issues that affect Latinos today, yet education must be the primary target of reform for Latino themselves.

There is a need for educational reform, but we Latino leaders cannot expect reform to come without the walls of the community; reform will come within first, then make its way outside of the walls of Jericho. In Sandra Maria Esteves’ “It is Raining Today”, the speaker examines history, identity and education, “Bring back truth, return the remnants of my identity, and bathe me in self-discovered knowledge... (Latino/a Literature in the English Classroom p.269).” But how de we change attitudes and mentalities that have been deeply rooted and ingrained in our minds and hearts for decades? How do we go beyond senseless debates on who is and who is not to blame for our educational setbacks and pitfalls?

When I attended grade school in Tarrytown, New York, my teachers, emphasized and stressed the importance of an education. As a typical American boy, I learned to love the classics. Tarrytown, today called Sleepy Hollow, is small but rich in history and pride. It is known for the setting of Washington Irving’s legendary Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle. In terms of language, I spoke English at school, but Spanish was the primary language in my house and at church. My personal experience taught me that an education is the key element for social and economic development. In-spite of the great difficulties confronted by newly arrived Latinos, an American education will provide them with the skills and strategies needed for further social, academic, economic and even political advancement.

How can our children compete in a new found world with higher academic standards? America enjoys competition, and an undergraduate education is no longer a guarantee for success. How can our children be part of a society if we Latino parents continue to misconstrue the importance of personal involvement in our children’s education? We need reform, but it will only occur from within ourselves first. Looking within will help us to see ourselves in a mirror to assess, reflect and implement the strategies and initiatives necessary to transform and make a difference. We know the statistics by heart, and they are a reality, but the truth is in our minds and hearts. It is not up to Senators Obama and McCain; it is up to we Latino leaders to raise our voice and speak out on the need for all of us to unite, define a vision and set the wheels in motion to impact the education of our children today, tomorrow and for generations to come.