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?