A Vision for the Education of Latinos in Florida: Rationale, Experience, and Research

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A vision for the education of Latinos is belated and a blueprint to tackle the academic needs of the millions of Latino children is required immediately.

An overview of SAT score averages for college-bound seniors – sorted by race/ethnicity in the selected years 1986-87 through 2006-07 – revealed that Hispanic students scored below 500 in reading, math, and writing.

If Latino teens are scoring below average in the SATs, it will be difficult for them to enter and excel in the highly academically competitive college world.

While ideological claims of educational improvement have been precipitously proposed, the scientifically based reality remains indisputable. The education of Latinos continues to look dreary and discouraging. With thousands of families, relocating from Puerto Rico and migrating from Central and South America to Central Florida, a vision for the education of Latinos is needed and a design to effectively meet the academic demands of the growing student population.

Sustained rationale supports that prior knowledge helps students to construct bridges to make predictions and outcomes about poems, stories, essays or dramas read in the English classroom.

Reading for pleasure and identity encourages and stimulates the recently arrived to make personal, more meaningful connections. In a “learning to read” environment, pleasure and enjoyment form the initial launching point for further literary development.

The fusion of culturally appropriate discussions and supplementary readings can help construct bridges to mainstream literature. As the immigration cycle shifts from New York City and other metropolitan cities in the East to Central Florida, there are very little welcoming strategies and the call to sink or swim is once more the option for thousands of newcomers in Central Florida schools this up and coming school year.

My teaching experience in New York City, Puerto Rico, and Florida has taught me that these kids will be motivated to stay in school when a bridge from their left-behind culture is provided to walk across smoothly and steadfastly to the newly acquired culture. It has taken the United States decades to assimilate European soccer as a sport, but we expect the recently arrived child to become academically competent in an educational arena at a record time pace.

The United States Census Bureau expects the number of Latinos to reach 63 million by 2030. Latinos will make up 25 percent of the kindergarten–12th grade population by 2025. In Central Florida, those numbers may be much higher.

There is no doubt that Latinos are the fastest growing minority and represent a valuable and integral part of the United States. But, Latinos are 13 percent of the population, and yet a mere 6 percent in higher education.

In many states, Latinos have the highest dropout rate and the lowest test scores and many are not college and career ready. The educational system has stayed stagnant in the dawn of one of largest immigration tide ever in current history. A vision for the education of Latinos is overdue and a blueprint to tackle the academic needs of the millions of Latino children who are registering in the public school system at an unprecedented rate requires immediate attention.

By: Manuel Hernandez

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