Obama working to help Hispanic thrive in schools

October 18, 2010 7:10:58 PM PDT
President Obama is set to announce a major initiative to help Hispanic students close the achievement gap in school. Latino students represent 25 percent of all students in America and in California it's more than 50 percent. Think College Now is an elementary school in Oakland comprised mainly of Hispanic students. When it opened in 2003, less than ten percent of students were proficient in English language arts and today, that number is more than 60 percent. It is this kind of achievement President Obama wants to see for all Hispanic students. At "think college now" data is collected on every student in order to monitor their progress. "We know where every single child is and what are next steps are to teach them," school Principal David Silver said. On Tuesday, the president will sign a new executive order focusing on helping Latino students close the achievement gap -- something President George W. Bush tried through the No Child Left Behind Act. Since then the gap between Latino and white students has closed slightly but it is still high, despite all the billions of dollars spent by the government to close it. In 2003 at the beginning of No Child Left Behind, the achievement gap between California fourth grade students was 35 points and seven years later, it dropped to only 28 points. According to the California Department of Education, today 52 percent of all students in our public schools are Hispanic. "The future that is at risk when you look at Latino student achievement is not only the students, but it's really California and the future of the nation," Arun Ramanathan from the Education Trust-West said. The president will now work on creating partnerships between the public and private sectors, establishing a network of community leaders to provide input that would create new policies and college as an expectation should be a norm for all Latino students. That is something Think College Now has been doing for years. "If you ask any student, any parent where they are going, they know they are going to college and therefore they will focus on achievement," Silver said.

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