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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.

Latino Education: Reform in its Basic Form
By Manuel Hernandez-Carmona copyright

There has always been a lot of talk about educational reform. Without a doubt, America’s educational system is in dire need of reform. Today’s student population is much more diverse and integrated than it was thirty, forty and even fifty years ago. School districts largely represent the community’s unique blend of ethnicities. Educational reform must respond largely to the assessment needs of the community which it serves. In school districts where Latinos, African-Americans and other ethnic groups are the majority, education must provide a gateway, transition and a cultural bridge to foster critical thinking and problem solving skills.
There cannot be reform without recognition of the cultures represented within the school community. The Obama administration in its education program has been vowed to “invest in innovative strategies to help teachers to improve student outcomes”. Investing in recognizing the participation of minorities in literature, science, math, social studies, history, reading and other subjects will be a motivational booster for identity, self-esteem and self-acceptance in these students. This may not cost much, but it will take an effort to identify, develop and create proposals that specifically target districts where minorities are completely underrepresented in books, libraries and academic programs. Latinos just had their first astronaut in space, and its first Latino/a nominated to the Supreme Court. What is the Department of Education doing to get them involved in promoting science and social sciences, especially in school districts where Latinos demonstrate lack of interest in these subjects? How about approaching NASA to send its Latino scientists into inner-city schools and districts where a change in academic mentality is sorely needed?
Imagine a recently arrived seventeen year Mexican boy being introduced to Romeo and Juliet in his first day of school in America. Although the universality of Shakespeare’s classic is unquestionable, it is going to take more than a highly qualified teacher to get him listening/speaking, reading and writing about the “star-crossed lovers.” Why not start the newly arrived teen with short, simple narratives in English written by Mexican-American writers to get him interested first, and then in a step by step process lure the student to the American and British classics.
Educational reform is necessary, and the so-called “innovative strategies” must be simple. Then again, it takes more than just words to initiate the most basic educational programs. The same way President Obama recognized the support he received from Latino voters in the past elections, now he must tackle one of their most immediate needs, education. The improvement in Latino education will develop itself by default once the hundreds of thousands of Latino children feel and understand that they are an integral part of the history of not only the courses they take but of a country that they themselves helped built.