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Why Access to Education for Latinos in Florida is Imperative to the Growth and Development of the Economy

Author: Paul J. Luna, President and CEO

In the recently published report, Latinos in the Sunshine State: Building a Brighter Future, the National Council on La Raza notes the significant population growth of Latinos in Florida, ranking the state as home to the third-largest Latino population in the nation. While population and other indicators such as postsecondary degree attainment and the number of start-up businesses show positive growth, Latinos lag behind non-minority groups in significant ways.

One critical benchmark to ensuring educational achievement is a student’s ability to read at grade level by the fourth grade. According to the US Department of Education, while 49 percent of White students met this 

benchmark in 2015, only 34 percent of Hispanic students achieved proficiency. In the curriculum area of mathematics, Hispanic students showed a slight decrease between 2011 and 2015, from 13 percent to 11 percent. Addressing the disparity between minority and non-minority students, particularly given Florida’s growing Hispanic population, is critical to workforce preparedness and economic growth.

Despite challenges that benchmark Hispanic student performance at a deficit compared to that of non-minority students, education is a valuable tool for economic prosperity and Hispanics know it. The percentage of Hispanic Floridians aged 25 or older who achieved a bachelor’s degree or higher increased by over 20 percent between 2010 and 2015, positioning Hispanic achievement over eight percentage points higher than Floridians overall in the same timeframe. 

At Helios Education Foundation, we believe that every student, regardless of zip code, deserves a high-quality education. The findings in the NCLR report indicate that one in every four children in Florida classrooms is Hispanic. As such, addressing their educational needs is important to closing the overall education achievement gaps in our state.

Helios’ focus on student success in Florida’s  metropolitan regions  of Miami, Orlando and Tampa will help to ensure we create opportunities for all students, especially first-generation, minority and underserved students, to achieve college and career success and capitalize on the transformational power of education. Through our continued strategic investments along the education continuum and in collaborating with partners across the state, we look forward to a future where every student achieves a postsecon dary credential.

Category: Education Issues

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