Hispanic Prosperity Begins with A High Quality Education

Just this week, President Trump signed an executive order launching the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative in what his administration hopes will promote continued opportunity and prosperity for Hispanic Americans.

Though this initiative’s Commission will consist of the Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Labor, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Administrator of the Small Business Administration, most notably it consists of the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, to whom the initiative’s director will directly report.

Why does this matter? Because with Hispanics as the largest minority group in the United States with more than 60 million Hispanics living in the country today, as we have said before, the success of Hispanic Americans is vital to the economic (and spiritual) future of our country. And the FE Coalition knows that this success begins with education.

Hispanics welcome this reinvigorated focus on education. As recent as three years ago, nearly three-quarters of Hispanics (73%) said improving the educational system should be a top priority for the incoming president and U.S. lawmakers. Hispanics make up 26% of public school students (roughly 14 million) and nearly one-third of all students in public charter schools and 11% in private schools. We can expect those numbers only to rise.

Two weeks ago the FE Coalition spoke with White House officials and mentioned the importance of college- and career-ready standards. So, I naturally asked myself, “what does this initiative have to say about that?”

The Hispanic Prosperity Initiative seeks to improve access to educational, training, and economic opportunities for Hispanic American students by promoting options to enhance personalized learning, family engagement, civics education, and pathways to in-demand jobs. In other words, the administration values not only college-level course taking in high school (and supporting the colleges Hispanics attend, eg. HSIs) but also emphasizes apprenticeships and work-based learning initiatives to help students choose a career pathway immediately out of high school.

As expected, the executive order further demonstrates the President’s support of school choice in the event that students attend what the White House might describe as “failing schools.” We have always supported the rights of parents to determine what is best for their child’s education, and we will always inform parents and stakeholders of their responsibility to hold schools accountable to the task of providing standards of education that promote college- or career-readiness.

Of course, there are still some questions school choice groups could more suitably address, such as, “To what extent can private and charter schools support a large influx of new students, not only logistically, but without it negatively impacting student outcomes?” Also, “How will schools support student transportation in a way that does not overburden the student and parent or deprive the student of learning opportunities?” Despite the need for answers to such questions, this in no way undermines the intent and focus of the White House to ensure that Hispanics have the opportunity to search out better educational opportunities when present ones are inadequate.

The White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative mentions the importance of investing in economically distressed communities and supporting small and minority owned businesses, and the FE Coalition knows that investing in students can yield an equal if not greater return of generational opportunity and generational prosperity.

Hispanic prosperity begins when public, private, or charter schools can consistently guide Hispanics students through a rigorous educational journey that adequately prepares them for college or a career after high school. And for believers, that journey should leave no question in the minds of parents of whether or not their child’s education contributed to the calling and plans God has prepared for them.

Thank you, pastors, parents, and faith leaders for engaging with us in the educational discourses happening in your state and around the nation.

Forward and higher in Christ,

Rev. Girien R. Salazar
Executive Director, FE Coalition