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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.

Creating Tomorrows: Latino Education: By Manuel Hernandez

There has been a lot of talk within the two major political parties in America on how to win over, sustain and/or attract the ever-growing Latino vote for the up and coming Congressional and Presidential elections. Now that one of America?s most important cities has a Latino mayor, both political parties have realized that the projections are part of the past and a reality of today. The public relations campaign has already begun and will intensify as we get closer to
the electoral race. Latino mega stars from sports, entertainment and the media are and will be lured to serve political interests by campaign directors from both ends of the track. The issues are the same: immigration, health, employment, home ownership and education. But the education of Latinos is without a doubt the front runner of all concerns for American

There has been so much said about the Latino high school dropout rate but very little actually done on how to systematically and strategically lower it. In the United States, there is a twenty-seven percent Latino high-school dropout rate (U.S. Department of Education, February 23, 2005, Press Release). Statistics have not improved since 2001 and have made small progress in the last three decades. As the Latino school population surpasses the expected five
million mark, what can be done to enhance academics in Latinos whose interest in school diminishes once they enter or are placed in American high schools? What will it take for the Department of Education to define a specific national proposal to be implemented in a
nationally coordinated effort? As 2005 reaches its peak, there is still no visible concrete vision and/or improved academic results in the education of Latinos.

When students develop an interest in education, they stay focused mentally and intellectually. When they are turned off, they lag and fall behind in the marathon. Latinos are unique immigrants. They are unified by language but diversified by cultural influxes and influences. Latinos teens are different and their interests cannot be taken for granted. In the mainstream English classroom, many Latino teens feel a lack of personal involvement, especially when
reading stories, poetry, drama and essays that are far away from their day-to-day experiences. The American and British classics provide comfort and understanding for mainstream high school students. However, for Latino teens whose language, culture and education is
generally not portrayed in the writings of William Shakespeare or Edgar Allan Poe, Latino/a Literature provides the context and establishes the bridge between the so-called classics and connects students to ideas and themes portrayed in literature.

For Latino teens to demonstrate confidence, independence and flexibility in the strategic use of
reading skills, they must enjoy reading as a lifelong experience rather than strictly analyzing it with a fixed set of rules. How can students interact with their reading when their choices of literature are far away from their everyday reality? Latino/a Literature is filled with everyday language, young adult characters, conflicts and events whereby students are given the opportunity to make language their own. It is like seeing themselves in a mirror and assessing
what, where, how and why they are who they are while developing reading and writing skills necessary to enter and succeed in college. Latino education is the present and future of America. Let us create a tomorrow filled with hope, dreams and a better quality of living for all American teens.