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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 and America: The Road Ahead
By Manuel Hernandez-Carmona copyright 2007

The numbers are undeniable. As the Latino population gets closer and closer to 50 million milestone, the relationship between America and Latino education is still undetermined and uncertain. According to United States Census projections, about 67 million people of Hispanic origin would be added to the nation's population between 2000 and 2050. Their numbers are projected to grow from 35.6 million to 102.6 million, an increase of 188 percent. While these numbers are revealing, Latinos are the population with the highest high school dropout rate (58.4%). I am not a mathematician, but the road ahead for Latino education must be paved with a clear vision anddefined strategies on how to meet and surpass the academic demands of the largest minority in the United States.
It has been said over and over again that an education is the key that unlocks the doors to a whole new world of opportunities. That has been the story of the American nation. The media moguls will be spending more than 4 billion dollars in Latino advertising this year. Both American political parties spend a lot of time, effort and dollars luring the so-called Latino vote, especially with 2008 just around the corner. They want to catch our attention. All attention right now should be directed towards the Latino dropout rate. When will Latino leaders wake up, speak out and unite on all fronts to redefine the education of their children? Fashion and music will not protect Latino children from the street sharks, earthly predators and neighborhood influences. The issue yesterday, right now and tomorrow is education.
What about the road ahead? There has been so much talk about what to do and how to do it but very little action set forth. In my book, effective action is determined by results. There are a lot of good things happening in the education of Latinos in America, but no one can deny that the dropout rate is the lowest of all. The key here is unity of purpose. The specific academic needs of a Latino teen in California and New York may be different, yet the goals are basically the same, a high school diploma and a doorway to higher education.
Unity of purpose means to set trifles aside and work towards a common goal. The forefathers of this great nation had so many differences but what united them was purpose. When there is purpose, a vision is born. It all begins and ends with proper family values. The process of improving educational attainment begins with Latino parents. City, state and government must provide parents with information, a voice and encourage parental partnerships with schools. Many Latino parents are recent arrivals themselves and stay away from school out of fear of being deported. Second, a strong English as a Second Language component, to new and recent arrivals is a must - develop strict identification and placement procedures and implement reliable diagnostic and assessment measures. Last, provide content-enriched academic programs across disciplines with authentic and practical young adult literature in English and continue to provide linguistic/academic support for at least one year after mainstreaming to ensure a successful transition. These are just three old ideas. But I cannot do it by writing and writing and writing about the issue. A Latino team with unity of purpose must be formed as soon as yesterday, not only to discuss but to redesign a national Latino Educational Vision that will be embraced by all Latinos across America.