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Obama puts spotlight on education of Hispanic students

Obama’s Education Policy Benefits Children of Color

A million years ago (or pre-kids), I started a women’s golf apparel company in Los Angeles where I designed and manufactured “fashionable” women’s golf clothes.  This was during the early 90’s when younger women were flocking to the golf course in droves for both fun and for career.  I had an employee, a young man, who had a prison record resulting from gang violence but he turned out to be an excellent employee and was soon joined by his wife and his younger brother.  They were all products of an inner city school system so broken that metal detectors were a necessity.

I had been mentoring a few other inner city high school kids while in business school and that gave me the idea to take my employee and his younger brother on a field trip to U.C.L.A. to make the idea of college  a concrete rather than abstract one for his younger brother, then a high school student and a good one, at that.  I remember wondering what the big takeaway would be after our outing.

I had them meet with a friend who was Hispanic but not from the barrio so my planned “example” was not credible in their eyes.  Oops.  That was a miscalculation on my part.  We lucked into another classmate who was also Mexican while eating lunch on campus.  As luck would have it, he was from the barrio and could talk the talk.  They definitely listened to him.  I didn’t understand much as he spoke to them in Spanish but I was pretty sure he was telling them to stay in school and that college was not out of reach.  You’d think that would be the big takeaway, right?  Me too!

Not so.  The Big Takeaway was surprising:  they could not get over how the undergraduates at U.C.L.A. walked around in little groups of 1, 2 or 3 kids.  That just totally blew their minds.  In their world, they walk in large gangs of a dozen or more.  In fact, more is better and safer.  Packs = safety and identity.  Hence the natural allure of gangs.

So, an executive order to target Hispanic education?  I’m all for it.  But I hope it targets root causes:  culturally,  physical labor is considered to be “real work.”  Education isn’t given the same priority as, say, the Asian community, which culturally worships education from centuries of Confucius teachings and feudal career paths that reward education and test taking skills.

As for my young friend, I’m afraid I lost track of him, but I hope that he found his way to U.C.L.A. or some other college and enjoyed milling about in small groups of twos and threes.

Full article here.  A couple of key bullet points below.

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Obama signs executive order enhancing Hispanic education initiative

By Tom Cohen, CNN

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • The new order expands a 1990 presidential initiative
  • Its goal is a greater community role in improving education for Hispanic students
  • More than half of Hispanic students drop out of high school
  • He [Obama] cited alarming statistics for the largest minority group in American schools, such as fewer than half of Hispanic children attend early childhood education programs and more than half drop out of high school.
  • Obama, however, touched on some political themes in his remarks. He noted some critics would question whether the effort to improve education for Hispanic students is worth it, as the problems continue 20 years after the initiative was launched.
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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom

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