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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.

Latino Education: The Determining Factor in America's Future: By Manuel Hernandez

The numbers speak for themselves. According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, Latinos are now about 14 percent of the Nation's population. The total Latino population is approximately 41 million, an increase of close to three million just five years ago. 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 issues are the same: immigration, health, employment, security, home ownership and education. But the education of Latinos is without a doubt the determining factor in America?s future.

A lot has been said about the Latino high school dropout rate but very little done on how to tackle 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). Since 2001, statistics have not improved and have made small progress in the last three decades. As the Latino school population surpasses the expected five million mark by the end of 2005, what can be done to enhance academics in Latinos whose interest in school diminishes once they enter or are placed in American high schools?

There is no doubt in anyone's mind that an education is the key that unlocks the doors to a whole new world of opportunities. But what can be done when all of us are complacent and passive in the way education is not only seen but also perceived and treated by Latino and American leaders as well. According to Census findings, about 31 percent of Latinos are between the ages of 18 and 34. If the dropout rate is 27 percent, at the present moment, America has more than two and maybe three million young Latinos without a high school diploma.

Forget about working in fast-food restaurants. We are talking about thousands of young men and women living off parents, public assistance programs, welfare or simply spending a lot of time at home watching television, listening to music or roaming around America?s streets. The current media bliss is being placed on entertainment, advertisement and public relations. But what about education? We cannot fall into a comfort zone and wait another ten years before we have another major Latino politician in Office.

The media moguls will be spending approximately $3.4 billion dollars in Latino advertising this year. They want to catch our attention. All attention right now should be directed towards the Latino dropout rate. When will Latinos wake up, speak out and unite at all fronts to rescue some of those dollars for the education of their children? Fashion and music will not save our children from the street sharks, earthly predators and corner influences. To tell the truth, it is really up to all of us to decide that the issue is education and its role in determining America?s future is beyond any reasonable doubt. The question for all of us is how best to tackle the main issue: education. It is time to set aside all differences and agendas and work intensively to help America determine its future.