Celebrate the Past and Empower our Students for the Future During Hispanic Heritage Season
Author: Grace Maseda
Hispanic Heritage season is celebrated annually September 15 – October 15. All across Arizona and Florida, communities come together to celebrate the diversity and richness that Hispanics, hailing from all areas of the world, have contributed to our great nation.
As U.S. Census data illustrates, Hispanics in the United States constitute an ever-growing segment of society. Over 30.3 percent of the population in the state of Arizona and over 23.6 percent of the state of Florida is Hispanic according to the 2013 U.S. Census.
While the high school graduation rate for Hispanic students in the state of Florida has shown annual improvement over the last five years, that trend does not hold true for students in the state of Arizona.
In Arizona, the declining graduation rate is not new. In fact, the Hispanic achievement gap has been a topic of discussion for several years. The time for talk was a decade ago. The time for lamenting was yesterday. The time to act is now.
The economic viability of both states lies in the hands of students sitting in classrooms today. As technology evolves and characteristics of the 21st century workforce come into focus, we see a disturbing picture. Our students, particularly Hispanic students, are not ready to compete with their global peers. The fact that students are graduating high school in need of remediation upon entering a postsecondary environment is simply not acceptable; student achievement that is anything less than globally competitive is short-changing their future; and student preparedness that weakens not strengthens each state’s economic position is short-changing everyone.
Given support to succeed, Hispanic students will not only grow in number but in achievement.
Hispanic Heritage season marks an opportunity to celebrate the many historic accomplishments of Hispanic leaders; it should also mark an inspirational time to ensure we are preparing our students for future successes.