Latino Education: The
Numbers Speak For Themselves:
By Manuel Hernandez-Carmona and Cristobal Cardona copyright@2006
According to the United States Census Bureau, there are 42.7
million Latinos in the United States. If we were to count
the residents of Puerto Rico, the Latino population is approximately
46 plus million. That makes them roughly 14 % of the population
in the United States of America. The U.S. Census projections
place them at a strong 24 % by the year 2050. That is one
out of every four Americans will be Latino. The numbers are
overwhelming and without a doubt present a series of challenges
to the Latino nation.
How can we improve our Latino population in colleges and universities
across America? The Census places Latinos at 11 % of the total
college population. That makes them 3 % lower than the 14%,
which makes up the total Latino population. The numbers speak
for themselves and highlight our weakest link of all: education.
There cannot be any real progress made without an educated
constituency. Ignorance is essentially the consequence of
lack of knowledge. Education imparts knowledge and is the
key that opens the doors to locked opportunities unavailable
to the uneducated.
I know that these numbers have been heard and shared before,
but we must do something now before the years go by and find
us waiting for the next Ricky Martin or Marc Anthony to come
around to start a new entertainment boom. This is not about
singing and dancing. It is about the education of our children
and their quality of life. How can we decisively stand up
for what we believe in? How do we get a hold of ourselves
to understand that we must cast away our petty differences
now, before history undermines our legacy as a people.
First and foremost, there has to be a united national Latino
educational coalition with representation from all fifty states.
Second, that united coalition must design an educational vision
that will set forth a national educational agenda. Third,
the national agenda must be presented to Congress, debated,
revised and forwarded to the President of the United States
for approval. This national agenda must be sent to the United
States Department of Education as a mandate to establish and
implement immediately. It is not that simple, but we Latinos
cannot continue to be led by educational plans that have not
been supported by us.
The numbers speak for themselves. We are just three years
away from the first decade to pass by, and we continue to
stall and lag behind. There is so much emphasis being placed
on personal accomplishments in sports, politics and entertainment
that we forget that an educated population will become not
just the one or two faces in music, Congress and on the playing
field, but the ones who can change policies and the destiny
of our next generations to come. If we do not speak out now,
we are just conceding to the outdated education models that
our youths have to endure in the inner cities and ghettos.
The measure of a great nation is how much emphasis and care
we give to the underprivileged of society, because as they
become more empowered, the more the whole nation becomes empowered.
(Cristobal Cardona, an ex-student of Manuel Hernandez-Carmona
collaborated in this article)