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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.

Latinos and Educational Reform in the United States (Part III)

by Manuel Hernández

Of the definitions stated for vision in Websters New World Dictionary, the one closest to its connotative meanings is the fourth one: the ability to foresee something as through mental acuteness. In plain and simple words, vision is the process, which delineates a mental framework and sets goals in motion. In a society where appearances play a role in determining who we are as a people, a vision is unequivocally needed to establish the founding principles of an educational reform that will benefit Latinos and other Americans as well. As a student and observer of educational empowerment, the essential element in a reform is a conceptual vision that will set the wheels in motion towards the attainment of goals and objectives. With the downsizing of values by some and the recognition of failure by many, a vision may sound like a bigger and tougher challenge to achieve, but it is the key that will open the doors for all.

A vision is a process in itself. It begins with a dream. But when personal experiences are crippled by inner turmoil and external tribulations, dreams may turn into nightmares. That is a reality, but we must focus on the truth. What are the Latino realities? Is it the highest high school dropout rate in America? Is it the largest unemployment rate in practically every state in America? Are they the stereotypical characters we play in the big and small screen? Any further questions? Is it an alarming teen pregnancy epidemic? We all know the answers. If the answers portray a reality, we must appropriate ourselves of a vision that will enhance our opportunities to experience the truth.

We are all interested in creating better educational conditions and improved socio-economic gains. Scholars and academics have debated these issues for years, but it is going to take much more than papers and research to reform education. Recent statistics reveal a slow but steady increase in terms of college completion rates but only 60% of Latinos graduate from high school. For the benefit of a minority, high school completion in a few states is higher than 60%, but we are still 15-25% behind our non-Latino counterparts. Less education means fewer opportunities and more statistics in the minus column. The vision must define its goal to specifically meet the academic demands of the educational system of the 21st century.

A vision requires a greater sense of purpose. It goes beyond the individual goals of one person. The individual goals are set and established within the vision of the community. The vision seeks a common denominator within the plural and redefines to implement formulas for the people. The goal of one becomes a passion that as a result transforms itself into a truth. If it took the passion of one man to establish a world vision, imagine what a body of Latino academics can do for the education of their children.

History is like a revolving door. At the beginning of the 20th century, Latinos united to pursue common goals and interests. Social, political, cultural and educational organizations were founded and created to empower Latino people and set forth a vision to pave the way for its people. Cesar Chavez and Antonia Pantoja were just two pioneers of many who lead by vision for the benefit of the people. They were successful, and we are proud of their legacy. A few years later, we find ourselves at a crossroads. This time around conflicts are bluntly stated in charts, programs and numbers. We read them, see them and many times look the other way. A vision demands human attention and divine intervention, which translates into one word: love. At the beginning of the 22nd century, will our great-grandchildren value, cherish and inherit the vision from us? I know they will, how about you?