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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: Parent Involvement
By Manuel Hernandez-Carmona copyright 2007

Latino education in the United States is a concern for all those involved in the educational community. One of the hardest experiences for Latinos has been getting parents involved in their children's education. Because of financial need, recently arrived immigrants tend to work overtime and into late evening hours; the great majority of first generaton and foreign born Latino kids in the United States find themselves without the support ever so needed and useful to assist on daily assignments from school. There are other issues of course, but it is not an easy task to learn a new language and assimilate a new educational system without the support of a parent at home. 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 importance. There is a lot of talk about the potential of Latinos in America. But much of the success of those today is intrinsically related to the support of a father, mother or an adult who inspired, encouraged, helped, supported and motivated them to get an education.
Research and studies have supported the fact that Latinos are culturally unique and distinct from all other American immigrants. Because they hold on strongly to their cutural roots, they have the tendency to ignore that education in America must be assimilated at all costs and sacrifices if that potential is going to be developed fully. According to a recent study stated by Marisa Treviño, "The largest behavioral gap between Hispanic students and white students appears to be the amount of parental support with college research. Just 48 percent of Hispanic students said that their parents are helping with "some of the research and paperwork," compared to 65 percent of white students. Half of all Hispanic students said they were doing all the college research and paperwork on their own, compared to 30 percent of white students." We Latino parents must find ways to reach out to contemporaries and get the message out at all fronts. The only way Latino kids will develop the academic skills needed to succeed in high school and beyond is with parent involvement.
What are the possible causes of lack of parental involvement? About 40 percent of the Latino children in the United States are below the poverty level. Less financial resources mean fewer opportunities for quality education. That is why a great minority of Latino parents have two and even three jobs. Latino children from low-income families are always more expensive to educate as they do not always show up at school ready to learn. Poor children more often than not attend under-funded schools. The Education Trust released a report in August 2002 documenting large funding gaps between high- and low-poverty and -minority districts in many states. The report reveals that in 31 of 47 states they studied, districts enrolling the highest of minority students receive substantially fewer (i.e. a difference of $100 or more per student) state and local education dollars per student than districts enrolling the lowest percentages of minority students. The same gap occurred in 30 of the 47 states studied for districts educating the greatest number of poor students. These gaps have real and troublesome consequences for the quality of education low-income and minority children receive. Students coming from below poverty line incomes have fewer opportunities to receive extra-curricular support for standardized testing preparation, culturally-based textbooks and tutoring. As a consequence, many Latino young adults find themselves working a part-time and even a full-time job during their high school years to help sustain their meager family income.
Many of us found forces within even when there was no role-model or support at home, but this is a society that strives on teamwork. That element is born at home. No wonder the Latino community in cities across America confronts so many obstacles when "unifying" its people is essential! We Latinos have been lured by "pretty faces and exotic bodies" displayed in the media and have forgotten to tackle the issues that really matter. Parental involvement opportunities programs such as Local Family Information Centers would help parents of English language learners make informed decisions about their children's education, such as which program of study is best for helping them learn English and academic course work. The potential for success of Latinos in the United States is unlimited. It is only a matter of one or two national electoral campaigns before we have a Latino candidate en route to the White House. Let us speak out today and pull resources now to get Latino parents in school and on track with their children's education. The success tomorrow of the present and future generations will depend on how much and how many of we Latino parents get involved in our children's education.

(The author is a proud parent of a senior in high school and works as a high school English teacher in the same school his first born will be graduating from with honors this up and coming May of 2007. He is also the author-editor of the textbook, Latino/a Literature in The English Classroom)