Winning the Future, Facing the Odds

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In April, a President Obama-convened White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics and the U.S. Department of Education released a report entitled “Winning the Future: Improving Education for the Latino Community.”

In it, we are given a dismal picture about the state of our nation’s largest minority group and its educational attainment.  Frankly, in order to “Win the future,” there are many odds to beat.

At more than 54 million strong, Latinos constitute the country’s largest and fastest-growing minority group.  Currently, 1 in 5 students (22 percent) in the public schools system is Latino, yet half of these students never receive their high school diplomas.  This lackluster demographic is mirrored on the other end of the continuum with less than half of Latino children enrolled in any early learning program.

Over the next decade, nearly 8 in 10 new U.S. jobs will require post-secondary training or a college degree. Latino dropout rates have lessened the advancement opportunities of a population that is set to become the majority of the nation’s labor force in less than 50 years.

Additionally, of the thirty fastest growing occupations in the U.S., half require a four-year college degree.  The fifty-percent of Latinos that do receive their high school diploma is only half as likely as their peers to be prepared for college.  In addition, just 13 percent of Latinos have a bachelor’s degree, and a mere 4 percent have completed graduate or professional degree programs[i]. Because economic progress and educational attainment go hand-in-hand, educating every American student through high school graduation and beyond is a national obligation.

Thus, it is repeatedly acknowledged in the report that these odds are not just a Latino problem; but a national one.  Latino success educationally and occupationally impacts the immediate and long-term economic and academic status of the United States because we are (as previously mentioned) a fast-growing population, and a young one.

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics’ Executive Order 13555 was recently re-signed by President Obama with hopes of furthering a 20-plus year movement.  Like Obama stated,

“The question then back in 1990 is the same question we face now:  How do we best improve educational opportunities and outcomes for our Hispanic students?” [ii]

That this question has not changed in over 20 years is somewhat discouraging; and although the report shares priorities with other Hispanic organizations (i.e. National Council of La Raza), the outcomes remain to be seen.

If President Obama’s leadership indeed gets us started—

Fixing what is broken in our education system will not be easy.  We won’t see results overnight.  It may take years, even decades, for all these changes to pay off.  But that’s no reason not to get started.  That’s no reason not to strive for these changes.  That’s a reason for us, in fact, to start making them right now.  It’s a reason for us to follow through.  And as long as I’m President, I will not give in to calls to shortchange any of our students[iii].

—this report could not have come at a more opportunistic time.

To see what the Obama agenda aspires to and how it plans to fulfill these aspirations, read the report here.

[i] U.S. Department of Education. April 2011. Winning the Future: Improving Education for the Latino Community. Retrieved from
[ii] Ibid.
[iii] Ibid.
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