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Professor Manuel Hernández
Essays Collection

PH: 939-284-1963 Email: mannyh32@puertoricans.com
Address: : Calle Laurel #255, Urb. Fajardo Gardens Fajardo, PR 00738

Latino/a Literature Seminars

Manuel Hernandez is a professional staff development specialist and works full-time for the Department of Education in Puerto Rico. He is also a culturally relevant text consultant and has given workshops throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and Mexico. He also writes freelance; his commentary essays have appeared in numerous newspapers and site in Puerto Rico and in cities in the United States. He is an English Staff Development Specialist for the Department of Education, an associate at Souder, Betances and Associates and a professor at the University of Phoenix, Puerto Rico Campus.

Latino Vote 2012: Immigration vs. Education
By Manuel Hernandez-Carmona copyright
mannyh32@puertoricans.com

For the last four Presidential elections, there has been a furious tug-of-war for the Latino vote. With Y2K came the Latino population boom, and the luring of the Latino vote by the GOP and the Democratic national parties. The Florida electoral judicial claim between Senator Al Gore and President George Bush in 2000 set the stage for the next three political campaign battles ahead. There has been an on-going discussion concerning the issues that effect the largest minority in the United States, and the general consensus is that immigration and education are one and two on top of the needs assessment of the Latino community.
Latinos have the largest percentage of illegal immigrants (76%, Pew Hispanic Center, April 2009), and the highest percentage of high school dropout rates in America (22%, The Condition of Latinos in Education: 2008 Factbook, December 2008). Illegal immigrants face deportation, family separation and imprisonment, but high school dropouts face less per-income capita, fewer job opportunities and an uncertain future. Which of the two issues should be addressed immediately? Both!
The United States needs to focus on the needs of Latino students. President Barack Obama said in a CNN article on March 28, 2011 that, "Our workforce is going to be more diverse; it is going to be, to a large percentage, Latino. And if our young people are not getting the kind of education they need, we won't succeed as a nation." The President himself acknowledged that the achievement of America's workforce is fundamentally related to the development of the education of Latinos. Nonetheless, the early pre-electoral debates have flourished and none of the G.O.P. hopefuls have spoken about how to tackle the academic needs of Latino children. The United States Department of Education has also failed to propose an educational vision in-light of the President’s public statements.
Immigration is the “talked about” issue while the education of Latinos has remained featured in charts, statistics and graphically portrayed but lost in the rhetoric of the current electoral debate. Focusing the discussion exclusively on immigration can delay any course of action by those who foster the educational policies of Latino children today. While the political debates absorb the national attention, it is imperative that we Latino leaders stir up the discussion in newspapers, magazines, televisions, schools, communities and the workplace. Political polls and surveys are mostly going to perpetuate what we already know, but Latino educational advocates must raise their concerns “ahora”.
The only way that education will be included as a “must” issue in discussions in national debates is that we Latino leaders speak out ourselves and stand up for the education of our children. With the geographical borders between Mexico and the United States just a toll away, immigration will always be an issue for Latinos. In spite of the importance of immigration, the educational crisis is much more than four year policies on who is and who is not an illegal immigrant. Transforming education may mean revolutionizing core curriculum and allowing school communities to have a real voice in the education of their children.
While we Latino leaders are caught latent, Romney, Gingrich and the others visit(ed) Florida to gain political favor from the Latino community. In 2008, the Latino vote showed wide spread support for President Obama, but four years later, the education of Latinos is still at a standstill. Both major political parties have taken advantage of the passiveness of Latino leaders because it is only when a voice is heard that it becomes noticed. It is not up to the media and polls to decide the positions that politicians take when they speak out on the core issues that affect “nuestra gente”. The discussion must be lead by those interested in improving the quality of the education of Latinos and all American children as well.