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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 4)

by Manuel Hernández

Latinos are no longer streaming at barriers, circumstances and struggles of the past but are looking beyond to establish goals and objectives, achieve dreams and become successful as individuals, human beings and communities. Instead of reverberating that the educational system has been responsible, Latinos have been able to cast away fears of oppression and hostility and unite to devise an educational reform that will meet the expectations and demands of all Latinos and other emerging communities as well. In Pat Moras poem Elena, a Latina mother recognizes her defenselessness when confronted by the reality that her children attend American schools, speak English while she feels dumb and alone because she could not understand them:

Sometimes I take my English book and lock myself in the bathroom,

say the thick words softly, for if I try stop trying, I will be deaf

when my children need my help (Latino Literature, p.116)

Latinos have decided to literally come out of the bathroom to work together as a unified body for the education of their children.

Looking beyond means to bury the pain, anguish and frustrations and stop blaming the system for setbacks and failures. There has been too much finger pointing and less specific, concrete and academic initiatives on how to tackle the educational problems that Latino children face today. Debates, research, studies and perspectives are needed to examine, expose, extract and shed insight on the issues, but it is only when we researchers, academicians, scholars, teachers and administrators sit down on a roundtable to seek a common thread in our views that we can reform education.

Setting goals and objectives are the first step in the ladder of success to reform education. An educational reform needs to define, denotatively and connotatively, its goals and objectives. The negative attitudes, conflicts, self-inflicted wounds and historical truths of yonder must be used as a springboard in the road ahead. The implementation of the reform will lead us into a vision of a better today, a brighter tomorrow and a greater future which will as a result help us attain higher academic standards for our children.

Looking beyond means to recognize our strengths and build upon prior experiences. Experiences that are not only reflective of achievements in music and entertainment, but a mirror of the academic successes of Latino teens. In more than one instance, the four year old millenium has taught us all not to take our adversaries for granted. As we continue to grow in numbers, our greatest adversary may very well be the education of our children.

According to his biographers, President Abraham Lincoln never really had formal schooling. Lincoln's family migrated more than once, and his family lived in very humble circumstances. In spite of his limited resources and poverty-stricken up-bringing, today the world recognizes his legacy. We Latinos have all the resources available to make a difference and leave a legacy for others to follow. Let us take advantage of the time to meet, create and design the ladder of success to envision our chidren with a dream, reachable, attainable and available for all.