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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 and The New SAT: By Manuel Hernandez

The key to a higher education is changing dramatically, and the
education of Latinos needs to make concise and specific adjustments to
enhance the academic opportunities of its teens. According to John Cloud’s
essay “Inside The New SAT”, “an exhaustive revision” of the SAT’s is
meant to “mold the U.S. secondary school system to its liking”(Time,
October 27, 2003). These changes are being implemented for the SAT’s
this year. The new SAT will have three sections: reading, writing and
math. The changes will provoke spontaneous and widespread curriculum
changes in the United States that will without a doubt affect the
education of Latinos and other American teens as well.

The changes aim to produce better writing skills in students, so the
new SAT will require an essay. Of the three new sections, two are
interrelated: reading and writing. Recent research (Noyce and Christie,
1989, Burkland and Peterson, 1986 and Uttero, 1989) sustains that there
is a strong relationship between the two. But Latino teens that are
recent arrivals (one to three years in the U.S.) are at an extreme
disadvantage. Because Latino teens have had little or no exposure to the
American and British classics, they will surely have difficulties
answering the reading section, which will include a fiction passage.

Latinos make up 3% of the profile of students taking the test and score
lower than White and Asian American students. The SAT is the ticket to
a college education, and the education of Latinos must undergo
curriculum changes in reading and writing to meet the current SAT
demands. If we are to improve the academic opportunities of our children,
Latino leaders in education must set aside agendas, issues and goals
and focus on strategies to help Latino teens prepare for the new SAT.

As the American Latino population continues to grow in
unprecedented numbers, the educational development of the largest
minority cannot be taken for granted. Latino/a literature written in
English by American Latino writers exposes students to issues such as
education, family, values, self-esteem, self-acceptance, conflicts in
identity, varied approaches to race, language, domestic violence and the
preservation of culture and art which provoke students to make their
own reactions and responses to literature. Reading Latino/a literature
is an alternative to the teaching of literature and a tool that will
prepare students for city, state and national testing requirements and
will enhance their reading comprehension, literary appreciation and
written communication skills in English.

However, for Latino teens whose language, culture and education
is generally not portrayed in the writings of William Faulkner or
Ernest Hemingway, 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. The Department of
Education is undoubtedly working towards the attainment of better
academic objectives for all American children. But it is time to include
the teaching of Latino/a literature as a “tool” and “bridge” in the
curriculum especially in districts where Latino teens are representative
of a strong minority of the school population. Just like the new SAT,
the integration of the literature as a “tool” will positively affect the
educational outcome of Latinos and other American teens as well.