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Friday, Dec 19, 2014
Commentary

Working to address Hispanics’ back-to-school dread

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As families and educators start the new school year, the to-do list is lengthy. Buy new clothes, gather classroom supplies, complete the necessary school immunizations, prepare lesson plans, welcome new teachers and more.

But for Hispanic students and those who educate them, the ‘to-do list’ for the coming school year is even more monumental — and monumentally important for the future of our country.

The challenges that Hispanic students face today are many, from disproportionate poverty to high dropout rates. Through the national Futuro2020 initiative, the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options (Hispanic CREO) is working to bring change and reform to five areas of particular concern.

Futuro2020 is a national awareness and parental involvement campaign that aims to ensure all students have access to a quality education by 2020. By working together to create an environment that fosters academic opportunities for Hispanic students, we can build economic progress for America for decades to come. But to do so, we need to empower parents, educators and other partners to tackle head on these very serious disparities:

1. Hispanics disproportionately experience poverty: At 37.3 percent in 2010, there were more Hispanic children living in poverty than those of other racial or ethnic groups (30.5 percent were white; 26.6 percent were black).

2. Hispanics are more likely to attend a disadvantaged school: Hispanic families tend to settle in highly segregated and impoverished settings, which makes Hispanic children more likely to attend schools with fewer resources.

3. Hispanics have higher high school dropout rates: At 14 percent, the rate of Hispanic students who do not complete high school is higher than that of their black (7 percent) and white (5 percent) counterparts.

4. Hispanic students experience lower academic achievement: They have made great strides but trail their white peers in math and reading assessment scores across all grades.

5. Fewer Hispanic students finish college: The gap in the number of Hispanic and white college students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree is disproportionate. Only 140,000 degrees (out of 1.7 million bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2010) were earned by Hispanics.

Although states such as Florida have in recent years seen gains in areas such as minority graduation, we continue to face a national crisis in the educational access, attainment and success of our minority students — Hispanic in particular.

Given the increase in our minority population nationwide — with U.S. Census data revealing minorities in the United States are becoming the majority of our population — we must act with urgency to bridge these gaps and disparities.

Futuro2020 is working to do just that, leveraging the 2013-14 school year as a call to action to parents, students, educators and other stakeholders across the country. We are raising awareness through campaign events, and educating families about the various school choice options available to them. We are also committed to boosting parental involvement among Hispanic families, knowing that goes a long way toward improving a child’s progress and achievement.

Hispanic CREO, through Futuro2020, is committed to working with educators and families to open the doors of education opportunity to every child. We encourage parents and educators to join Futuro2020 by visiting www.Futuro2020.org.

Julio Fuentes is president of the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options (Hispanic CREO), the national education advocacy organization leading Futuro2020.

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