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