Obama Expands Effort to Boost Hispanic Higher Ed

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President Obama on Tuesday signed an executive order focused on boosting college success among Hispanics.

The order renewed the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, established in 1990 and renewed by each president ever since. The initiative is staffed and funded within the Department of Education and is composed of appointed and civil service officials, and is led by Executive Director Juan Sepúlveda.

The renewed initiative will, among other things, create a Presidential Advisory Commission and national network of community leaders to advise on the development and coordination of education policy that affects Hispanics. The Obama administration has pledged to link “key individuals and organizations” from within and outside the education system in public private-partnerships in order to examine Hispanic education, and take their advice in coordinating education policy. The initiative will also form a Federal Interagency Working Group to exchange resources and address issues affecting Hispanics, including housing, health, finance, employment and education.

The White House said those elements were created with the help of about 100 “community conversations” conducted by the initiative with more than 10,000 students, parents, educators and community leaders.

Pointing out that the United States trails other industrialized nations in higher education degrees, Obama told an audience at the White House bill-signing, “This is not a Latino problem. This is an American problem. We have to fix it.”

The signing followed at two-day National Education Summit and Call to Action, in which senior Education Department and Obama administration officials examined Hispanic educational performance and access. About 300 people attended the  summit in Washington, where speakers called for various measures to increase educational opportunities and improve education outcomes for Hispanics.