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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Executive Order Renewing The White House Initiative On Educational Excellence For Hispanics

President Obama smiles at Javier Garcia of Brownsville, Texas during yesterday's signing of the Initiative on Eduation Excellence for Hispanics.  WH Photo/Samantha Appleton.
President Obama signed an Executive Order to renew and enhance the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics so that it better serves communities across the country by engaging them in the process of improving the education of Latino students.

"It’s precisely that kind of participation –- engaging the American people, giving all of you more say in the policies that affect your lives, and holding ourselves accountable to deliver real results in return –- that is at the heart of a new Executive Order I’m about to sign to strengthen the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics", said the president.

First established in September of 1990, the Initiative was created to advise the Secretary of Education on issues related to Hispanics and to address academic excellence and opportunities for the Hispanic Community.

Reports indicate Hispanic students face educational challenges of crisis proportions. Fewer than half of all Hispanic children participate in early childhood education programs, and far too few Hispanic students graduate from high school; of those who do complete high school, many are not adequately prepared for college. Only 13 percent of adult Hispanics have a bachelor’s degree, and just 4 percent have completed graduate or professional degree programs.

At the same time, large numbers of Hispanic adults lack the education or literacy skills they need to advance their careers; they also are less likely than members of other groups to have taken job- or career-related courses, with the exception of basic education classes, such as English as a second language.
Since 2009, the Initiative office has engaged in community conversations with 90 communities in 30 states with over 10,000 participants between June and December 2009.  The community conversations brought to the forefront key challenges and priorities of the education system with respect to the Hispanic community, enlisted individuals and organizations to join the Initiative’s national network, and partnered with others across the country to work on key issues.  The new Executive Order, to supersede previous ones, reflects the new initiatives.

The President's goals for education during his tenure include making sure that all students receive a complete and competitive education from cradle to career.

“Making sure we offer all our kids, regardless of race, a world-class education is more than a moral obligation, it’s an economic imperative if we want America to succeed in the 21st century,” said President Obama. “But it’s not something that can fall to the Department of Education alone. It’s going to take all of us – public and private sector, teachers and principals, parents getting involved in their kids’ education, and students giving their best – because the farther they go in school, the farther they’ll go in life.”

More info on the Initiative available here.

This month the Treasury Department announced their report showing that the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) increased overall tax benefits for higher education expenses by more than 90 percent, helping 12.5 million students and their families pay for college in 2009.  Recipients of the AOTC received an average tax credit of more than $1,700, which is an increase of about 75 percent over the average Hope Credit or Lifetime Learning Credit recipient in 2008. The report also finds that since the AOTC is refundable, 4.5 million students and families received a tax refund from the AOTC in 2009 with an average value of $800, which they would not have been eligible for in 2008.

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