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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: An American Journey
By Manuel Hernandez-Carmona copyright 2007

The true meaning of success is to define one’s purpose through an on-going journey called life. There is no way the journey will be successful without a quality education. Latinos and all Americans understand that dreams travel according to one’s own level of expectations. Educational empowerment provides the key to walk and run across the avenue of self-expectations. There has been so much talk in the media these days about the shortcomings and mishaps of American education. America is and will always be the frontrunner in business, technology, entertainment and music. But we seem to be falling behind drastically in what really matters: education. It is time that we Americans recognize that drastic changes must be made if education is going to continue on that successful journey.
There is no doubt that changes in education must be made right now, today and as soon as the present. Failing national reading levels and soaring high school dropout rates are still haunting education today. According to the National Testing Service, technology is traveling faster today than the speed of education, and millions of Latinos and Americans are at risk of falling behind.
As an American Latino who had the unique and rich opportunity of learning English as the primary language, I grew up breathing and interacting with authentic symbols, literary figures and real-life experiences depicted in the American and British classics. My hometown, Sleepy Hollow, was graphically representative of that literary tradition. As a child, we took school field trips and revisited Puritan settings conserved by Sleepy Hollow’s historical society. When I read The Scarlet Letter, I had a visual image of the homes, clothing and other physical aspects of old New England. Those experiences paved my academic foundation. No wonder my two papers in-lieu of thesis were on the English writers John Milton and George Bernard Shaw.
But that is not the personal and cultural experience of millions of foreign born young adult students who rarely had the opportunities that I had because they simply came to the United States with different cultural, social and personal experiences which are hardly examined, explored or presented in the American and British classics. This is not about multiculturalism or bilingual education. It’s about common sense! When will the Department of Education understand that it must include the recognition of “minority literatures” as a bridge (jump-off point) in reading? Research that supports this suggestion is extensive. The only way to get second language learners interested in a new language is to build bridges towards that new language.
Drastic measures require bravery and decisiveness. Not recognizing the obvious is perpetuating the academic situation of millions of students that are at risk. America deserves better! Every two and four years, we hear the same old promises about more funding for extra-curricular activities that are always good and entertaining but do not hit the chord of the problem. Reading and writing are only two subject areas, but the Department of Education must begin to transform the English curriculum now. Tomorrow is too late.