While we applaud intent, we should also demand action

Yesterday, President Obama signed an Executive Order to renew the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. We commend the President for reaffirming the federal government’s commitment to Hispanic education success. We hope this Presidential decree will foster greater federal investments in the education of the youngest and fastest-growing national demographic, which unfortunately remains the most underserved and undereducated part of our population.

Paradoxically, Hispanic Americans are the only identifiable racial/ethnic community that is underrepresented in the federal labor force at approximately seven percent, compared to an estimated 16 percent of the nation’s general population. The Executive Order should provide the basis to hold all Cabinet members accountable for the expeditious bridging of this persistent gap. Hispanics in professional and management positions are essential for federal agencies to serve effectively the national needs, including the allocation of resources for K-12 and higher education. The federal workforce must reflect the changing face of the nation.

As the country’s school- and college-age population grows increasingly Hispanic, it is also urgent to close funding gaps. For instance, Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) receive a meager 52 cents for every federal dollar going to all colleges and universities annually per student. The Executive Order should compel federal agencies that provide funds for higher education to erase this wide and pernicious disparity without further delay.

President Obama should also appoint a Presidential Advisory Board on HSIs. Such boards have been in place for many years for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and for Tribal Colleges and Universities. To keep HSIs without a comparable board further erodes their standing with federal agencies and the White House, and sends the wrong message to the nation.

In short, we applaud President Obama for signing the said Executive Order but we urge his administration to take prompt action on the three preceding points for the good of the nation. As Hispanic America goes so goes all of America.

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