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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.

American Education and the Common Core State Standards
By Manuel Hernandez-Carmona copyright
(Professor of English at the University of Phoenix PR Campus and English Program Facilitator for the Fajardo School District)

America education is at a crossroads today. With No Child Left Behind (NCLB) came a new set of rules and fixed regulations that transformed education into a scientifically based classroom with little room for innovation and creativity. The emphasis was on results, and results meant higher percentage scores on citywide, statewide and even national testing requirements. States were forced to evaluate teachers based on student performance, which was based on how high or low students scored on academic achievement exams. All of a sudden and without further notice, hundreds, if not thousands of teachers found their jobs jeopardized by strict data driven percentage results. Because NCLB did not prove to reduce significantly the national high school dropout rate and was deemed a disservice to children, the United States Department of Education has transitioned NCLB into the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

The United States Department of Education has decided to unilaterally establish a rigorous academic design (CCSS) to improve the academic standards and expectations of all students but relegate, ignore and isolate the needs of English Language Learners (ELL) who are in dire need of a transitional stage to bridge the gap and meet the expectations of the CCSS. Through the bargaining chip of a so-called Flexibility Plan, states have lowered the academic achievement gap and given school districts the responsibility to provide technical assistance and professional development for teachers to help students meet the academic demands of the CCSS. Yet, the specific needs of students whose first language and cultural experience are not English are not taken into consideration, and the critical thinking and pro-active discussions of the American classroom are seldom experienced today.

According to the U.S. Department of Education Web site Ed Data Express, English language learners (ELLs) comprised 8.7 percent of the nation’s K–12 students in 2009. In Florida, 25% of all ELL students are Latino. These students are typically in the process of learning English and speak a first language other than English at home. More than half of all ELL students were born in the United States. Applying such a demanding academic design (CCSS) is detrimental because it segregates these kids in schools. They are placed in ESL/ESOL and the transitional language developments and stages are not necessarily taken into consideration. In documented cases, there have been ELL students that are permanently stuck in these programs until high school graduation and without the skills to master city, state and national testing requirements, depriving them of joining America’s workforce.

American education is at a crossroads! Government has sequestered the true voice of its people on how Americans truly want to education children. Technology is faster than a speeding bullet, and immediate results have schools failing, dropping their classification exclusively based on the results of the academic achievement exams. Schools with high percentages of ELLs failed versus schools with high population of mainstream students maintained their classification and in some cases even lowered their classification. American education has shifted its values. Results are always welcomed, important and understood but at what cost. Now is the time for community leaders to speak out and get involved in school. Now is the time to talk to Board members and let them know what your point of view is regarding the value shift in schools. Why let the Government decide how to evaluate schools, teachers and students? President Kennedy stated “Ask not what the government can do for you, but what you can do for government”. We can be the change in American education. Why wait another dozen years to find out that the CCSS proved much like NCLB or worse? Now is the time!