RETHINKING EDUCATION FOR HISPANIC STUDENTS.
By Aimee Viana, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.
Every student in America should have the freedom to pursue the education that best fits their needs and matches their interests and values. The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics is working every day to make that a reality for all Hispanic children in the U.S.
Despite our efforts on behalf of Hispanic students, we know too many are denied the education that’s right for them simply because they don’t have the financial resources to move to a “better” district. Too many are told they can’t study the topic that excites them because the school building they’re assigned to doesn’t have the faculty or facilities available. And far too many do not have access to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) courses, vocational education programs, and college prep classes that provide exposure to the multitude of postsecondary pathways.
That’s why Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and President Trump’s Administration are encouraging students, educators, parents and lawmakers to rethink what education looks like in America today. The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics is working to empower state and local innovation—to highlight the best strategies to serve students at every age and stage of their lives.
For our Hispanic students, this call may be regarded as both an opportunity and an obligation. It is an obligation because we need to do more to boost student outcomes, close achievement gaps, and equip every student with the skills necessary to complete postsecondary programs, and succeed in his or her career and life. It is also an opportunity to think and act strategically, so that the potential of the Hispanic learners of our nation is matched with the needs of the modern economy.
To prosper in the 21st century, America needs a highly-skilled workforce of quality and diversity. This need emphasizes one of many strategic opportunities before us—to increase the Hispanic participation in STEM programs.
During this year’s Back-to-School season, I visited schools in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands as part of the larger U.S. Department of Education’s ReThink School Tour. During the trip, I explored schools that were innovating in STEM and workforce development programs and courses. During each visit, I was pleased to see that students were provided opportunities that recognize their potential and dedication to success. I witnessed innovation, from pre-school through postsecondary education, and a commitment by schools to ignite a love of learning through education within a variety of school options.
Our Hispanic learners need more of these kinds of opportunities. I welcome the continued commitment of our partners as they work to ensure that pathways to prosperity are open and accessible for Hispanic students – and all students – so that we can positively impact our nation’s education system and workplace.
Aimee Viana was appointed on Feb. 26, 2018 to the position of executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. In this role, she aligns the work of the Initiative with the Department of Education’s goal of rethinking education while expanding opportunities and improving educational outcomes for Latinos of all ages.