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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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Latino Education: Improving Literacy
By Manuel Hernandez-Carmona copyright@2006
mannyh32@yahoo.com


United States population numbers continue to defy all census projections. While the emphasis has been on the three-hundred million milestone, Latinos continue to quietly grow at a rate of about one-million per year. There are already almost seven-million Latino children in American schools. There is no doubt that something must be done to improve literacy among high school students, especially with a booming minority that literally has so much physical, economic and political presence. Because of the up and coming electoral event, we once more hear questions asked to politicans about the growing Latino high school dropout rate. In some states, one out of every two Latino teens quit high school. Forget why, that is simply too many Latino teens left to wonder and sleepwalk in America s streets. That is a crisis!
What new strategies can be implemented as soon as yesterday to help these kids stay in school? How can they (newly arrived teen immigrants) be motivated and encouraged to stay in an already foreign educational environment? When will the United States Department of Education understand that these kids will be motivated to stay in school when a bridge from their left-behind culture is provided to walk across smoothly and steadfastly to the newly acquired culture? It has taken the United States decades to assimilate European soccer as a sport, but we expect the recently arrived teen to become academically competent in an educational arena at a record time pace. Nonsense!
Why not ask Latino teens what books they want to read? We already know what the curriculum wants them to read? As teachers, we are encouraged to give our students choices. As educators, we know that we know that when choices are provided results are obtained. Why not consider the students ability levels? In other words, let us provide choices according to their literacy level not at the level that we think they ought to read. We already know that smaller groups pave the way for more individualized instruction. Then let us use what we know and integrate more culturally sensitive literature. There is no way that a recently arrived teen can hack the classics in one or even two semesters. Impossible!
How can we base academic goals to encourage students who are expected to fail? It sounds like a paradox, but that is exactly what we are doing. One cannot expect results when the strategies used are the same as in the past. There must be a change in the curriculum! Initiatives are fine, but changes are a must if we are really serious about academic results. There is so much being said about the war and the nuclear threat. These are serious issues! Wars and threats will come and go, but the education of our children has a generational effect that goes beyond our present and lasts forever. Education is and will always be the issue and improving literacy is a goal that we must set forth as a priority today, not tomorrow(The author of the article is the editor/author of the acclaimed textbook, Latino/a Literature in The English Classroom and a veteran high school English teacher in Puerto Rico)