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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.

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 an abyss.
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!