The Latino Agenda in
the 2008 Elections: Education
By Manuel Hernandez-Carmona copyright 2007
There has been a lot of talk about the sudden and lasting
impact of Latinos in the United States. They have become much
more than a trend, phenomenon and a generational boom. The
Latino social, financial, political and cultural growth has
surpassed all predictions and continues to make a difference
in all avenues, roads and pathways of the great American Nation.
There are many Latino issues on top of the electoral table,
but two are the most dominant today: immigration and education.
But without a doubt, education will continue to be the core
issue and a frontrunner in the discussion of ideas amongst
the hopefuls on both sides of the political highway.
Many would agree that this is a defining moment for the Latino
population in the U.S. Los Angeles has its first Latino mayor
in over a hundred years. This is a moment in the Latino community,
politically, where the community is flourishing and blossoming.
The Latino population is 40 million plus and growing by the
minute. One out of every five children in the U.S. is now
of Hispanic descent. Both major American political parties
are scrambling to find strategies on how to approach and attract
the so-called Latino vote. It truly is a time to step up,
affront and act on behalf of the Latino children who are going
to be the leaders of the community tomorrow.
It is very difficult to measure the academic success of Latino
children. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, At every
level of schooling educational outcomes differ among native
born and immigrant Latinos and between Latinos and other racial
and ethnic groups. Measuring those differences and the factors
that produce them are critical to understanding the Latino
future. At the same time and in the nick of time, these educational
outcomes cannot be taken lightly and should encourage immediate
intervention, pre-planned prevention and long-term academic
The highest high school dropout rate amongst minorities is
preventing Latinos to attain a higher education degree. According
to the U.S. Department of Labor, a college graduate will earn
more over a lifetime period than a high school graduate. According
to recent research done by Jay P. Greene, a senior fellow
at The Manhattan Institute, The national graduation rate for
the class of 1998 was 71%. For white students the rate was
78%, while it was 56% for African-American students and 54%
for Latino students.
If Latinos are less likely to graduate from high school but
continue to grow in population, the United States has an economic
situation that needs attention. The focus in the national
Latino debate has been immigration but the on-going everyday
debacle is education. This is no time for promises. It is
time for action. The Latino agenda today, tomorrow and in
the 2008 elections is education. With no education, there
is no vision of the future. The solution to the academic situation
lies within the Latino community not in the minds of those
who are interested in rocking the boat after January 20, 2009.
It is going to take a national Latino effort, but it will
help Latinos to continue to make an everlasting effect that
not only will impact now but transcend our generations later.