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Professor Manuel Hernández
Essays Collection

Email: josejosue24@gmail.com
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.
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The Value Question in the Education of Latinos
By Manuel Hernandez copyright@2006
mannyh32@yahoo.com


Within the American core value system, education ranks extremely high. While I grew up in a close knit Puerto Rican family in the legendary Sleepy Hollow, New York, in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, my teachers imparted education as the most important value in American society. But when my family moved back to their homeland, the Island of Puerto Rico, in 1974, I immediately felt the shift in value system.
As a pre-adolescent in the sixth grade at an elementary school in Luquillo, Puerto Rico, I wanted to excel in school, but classmates and teachers alike described my attitude as shameful and egotistic. Even my best friend nicknamed me “soberbia” (excessive pride). It was not that education was not valued, but family, friendship and religion were above the value of an education.
It was not until at the age of fifteen, I went back to New York City and worked in an umbrella factory from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and witnessed the day to day physical and emotional abuses that my fellow laborers experienced that I convinced myself that an education was the key to a higher quality of living.
For hundreds of thousands of Latino families that migrate to the United States, there are other values that do not necessarily substitute education but undermine its position in the value scale of the education of Latinos. There is a lot of talk about the potential of Latinos in America. From the world of politics to the world of music and entertainment, Latinos have become groundbreakers, frontrunners and pioneers. But education must move up the scale of values to further upgrade economic development and social mobility.
The overwhelming impact of the Latino family (“familia”) and its constituents is without reasonable doubt one of the most important values in the American Latino family. When it is time to decide whether to leave family behind for a college education or register in a school out of town or out of state with a better reputation in the field, there is much more than finances and scholarships to consider.
There is no doubt that we are gaining ground. According to an article by Matthew Pinzur from the Miami Herald, in Miami, advanced placement scores for Latinos are higher than ever. Miami-Dade had the largest number of Latino students passing the test recently. This is good news, and I applaud every local and national effort in the improvement of the academic enhancement of our children, but we must refocus and redesign a vision in education and transform education into our most powerful value. Why not take advantage of those who have done exactly that and present them as role models to those five million Latino children who are in American schools today?
We do not have to reinvent the past to make a dent in our children’s values, but we need to act now, tomorrow may be too late. Only then will we guarantee the legacy not only as the largest minority in the United States, but also as a people that redefined the education of our children and generations to come.