Focusing on the Needs of Latino Students (Parental Support)
By Manuel Hernandez-Carmona copyright
Focusing on the needs of Latino students is imperative for
educators, scholars and parents alike. On August 28th, we
celebrated the 48th anniversary of one of the most powerful
speeches of all time, the “I Have a Dream Speech” by Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr. delivered on the 100th anniversary of Abraham
Lincoln’s declaration about civil rights and slavery. As a
result of King’s speech, America woke up from its hibernation
and dared to vote for Barack Obama in the 2008 elections.
There are indeed power in words, speeches and declarations.
Not withstanding the responsibility of Government and its
role in education, there is scientifically based research
that supports the importance of parental support in a child’s
education. Regardless of general trends in the academic underachievement
of Latino children, there are disadvantaged children from
low income families that academically surpass and succeed
against all likelihood. Much of the success has to do with
the positive influence of parental support.
According to recent research, there is a strong relationship
between the role of parental support and the academic achievement
of Latino children. When we learned more about Sonia Sotomayor’s
path to the United States Supreme Court Justice seat, we read
about her mother’s striving commitment to her education. Despite
growing up in impoverished circumstances, the support of a
single parent got her into an Ivy League school and a quality
education. Second, the day to day verbal and non-verbal expressions
of support are also essential in attaining academic achievement.
One of America’s top educational advisor, Dr. Samuel Betances,
grew up in extreme social circumstances, but positive reinforcement
reiterated by mentors awoke a spirit of achievement that encouraged
him to undertake an academic journey and complete an education
at Harvard during the unsettling years of the 1960’s. Last,
the nationwide mentorship programs established in the 1990’s
by Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch have also been crucial in the
education of more than one million Latinos.
These three strategies have already been proven beyond any
reasonable doubt to be successful in cities across America.
Although the Latino population is diverse and unique regarding
its demographics, it is important that we Latino leaders go
beyond our micro influence to create and construct national
strategies which can serve as springboards for specific and
concrete necessities depicted in school districts. When one
or both of the parents are absent, identity, pride and culture
take a setback in the scale of values of a child. As a consequence,
the academic interests of Latino students lag and fall into
Just like Sotomayor, Betances and Castillo were able to reach
within and transform their personal experiences in gateways
of success, we Latino leaders of the 21st century must work
together to make a difference for future generations of Latinos.
While some were blessed to receive the parental support needed,
others may need strategies to have the opportunities that
all of our children deserve. Although there are many that
will achieve in-spite of their upbringings, let us focus on
helping those who will become a mirror of assessments for
the already disturbing statistics. Enough said, this is the
time to organize and coordinate a national Latino conference
to specifically design an agenda on Latino parental support.
Let’s do it!