Rev. Rodriguez: Education in the United States is still not equitable for minority students

Dear Editor:

I was heartened to see Juan Williams’ column “The Scandal of K-12 Education” bring prominence to what we on the ground know about education: it is not equitable across our nation if you are a minority student. It saddens me to read that Hispanic fourth graders in Alabama are reading two grade levels below their Hispanic peers in Florida. We know that a fourth grader’s reading level is a key indicator of whether a student will graduate from high school. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data from 2015 tells us that just 21 percent of Hispanic fourth graders were “proficient” in reading. That is a terrible statistic that does not honor the imago Dei in each of us.

Hispanic Evangelicals are a powerful voting bloc. We are looking for a presidential candidate and indeed down-ballot candidates who will support higher academic standards that challenge students to learn to think, to analyze, to develop strong and cohesive arguments based on facts and reason, and to understand how to apply what’s learned in the classroom to the real world.

As people of faith, we are called to love the Lord and honor the imago Dei in our neighbors. As parents, we demand the best for our children. As Americans, we look for candidates who will stop the notion that we need to dumb-down education for Latino students. As politicians court the Hispanic vote, they must pay close attention to the fact that education as an issue actually ranks higher than immigration reform for Hispanic parents. Our children are our heart. Win us by telling us how you will improve education for minority students.

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is the President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

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