Public Papers - 1989
Memorandum on Education of Hispanic Americans
Memorandum for the Secretary of Education
Subject: Education of Hispanic Americans
All children in America should have the opportunity to achieve their fullest potential as human beings. And, as you know, much of that opportunity depends on education.
Sadly, Hispanic Americans are especially undereducated. As Hispanics become the largest minority group in the United States early in the next century, it becomes more and more important to overcome the crisis in Hispanic education.
Indeed, the statistics that you have provided to me compel attention:
Between 9 and 11 percent of Hispanic students drop out of high school each year -- the highest dropout rate of any major ethnic or racial group.
Among Hispanics over the age of 25, an alarming 52 percent have not completed high school, compared to 24 percent of non-Hispanics.
Only 10 percent of Hispanics over the age of 25 have completed 4 or more years of college, compared to 21 percent of non-Hispanics.
Every major report on adult illiteracy has found that the rate for Hispanics is much higher than the rate for the non-Hispanic population.
The Working Group on Education of the Domestic Policy Council, which you chair, is already addressing important education issues. I am directing you to form a Task Force within that Working Group to focus on Hispanic education. The Task Force on Hispanic Education will report to me through the Domestic Policy Council and its Education Working Group.
Specifically, the Task Force on Hispanic Education should:
Assess the participation of Hispanics in Federal education programs.
Identify barriers that may limit Hispanic participation in education programs and suggest remedies.
Suggest goals and strategies for the education of Hispanics (e.g., reducing the dropout rate, increasing enrollment in higher education, and promoting adult literacy). These goals should be considered in conjunction with the process of setting national education goals as called for at our Education Summit.
I also understand that you will be appointing a special advisor on dropouts -- a new position in your office. Because of the problem of dropout rates in the Hispanic community, I urge you to direct your special advisor to work closely with representatives of the Hispanic community.
We must step up our efforts to ensure the education of Hispanic Americans as a vital part of our overall commitment to excellence in education.