By Daniel L. Muñoz
President, Alex Gonzalez of California State University, San Marcos, in conjunction with SBC Pacific Bell and the Chamber Foundation Business Roundtable for Education, hosted a welcoming dinner for the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans at the Westgate Hotel Monday August 5, 2002.
The welcoming dinner was attended by 70 plus representatives from the business, education and Hispanic leadership from the city and county of San Diego. They had an opportunity to meet and talk with some of the Presidential appointees who have been charged by the President to provide advice to the Secretary of Education, Rod Paige. They will issue reports to the President on the progress of Hispanic Americans attaining the goals established by the President’s “No Child Left Behind” educational initiative.
The attendees were welcomed to the dinner by the Co-Chair of the Advisory Commission, Bill Hanna of Atlanta, Georgia, who is the CEO of HBR Capital, Ltd. We also had the pleasure of being greeted by Advisory Commission Member, Dr. Alexander Gonzalez, President, California State University San Marcos, and Co-Host Ginger Hovenic, Ed., President & CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce “Foundation Business Roundtable for Education”
Leslie Sanchez, Executive Director, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, delivered an explanation of the Commission and introduced the event’s guest speaker, Mr. Gaddi Vasquez, former Supervisor from Orange County and current Director of the Peace Corp. Mr. Gaddi, who is well known to the Hispanic/Chicano community, gave a vivid and vibrant presentation of the activities of the Peace Corp and the ramifications that it has in how other nations perceive American society, in particular Middle-Eastern societies. His comments were well received by those in attendance.
The Presidential Initiative
The stated purpose of the Presidential initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans is to equip Hispanic families with the tools that they need to help make a college education a reality for their children.
Recent studies have indicated that a large majority of parents are not aware of what it takes to make college a reality for their children. Several recommendations have already been implemented. A recent Web site has been created that will provide parents with a one-stop center to increase their knowledge on what it takes to be able to enter college. Leslie Sanchez, the Director of the White House Initiative pointed out that the Web site www.YesICan.Gov or www.YoSiPuedo.gov would provide parents and future students resources on how they can make it a reality. The Web site begs the question that the majority of the families that need the information are not computer literate nor do they have the resources to acquire the equipment.
The Bare facts
There are approximately 46.8 million children in public schools and countless millions more in private non-public school systems. In the public area, there are 89,599 public schools that employ more than 3 million schoolteachers plus countless million more non-teaching employees. The President proposes sweeping reforms of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act by turning Federal spending into a Federal investment in improving student performance. Those who desire local control of their schools may question this latest infringement on local control.
The Federal government proposes to redefine its role in K-12 education by requiring all states to set high standards of achievement and creates a system of accountability to measure results. The Federal government will insist that states set high standards for achievement in reading and math and that every child will be tested in grades 3-8 to ensure that students progress.
Promised Federal Support
Under the White House Initiative, unprecedented federal support for children who are trapped in low performing schools is promised. Students in such schools may transfer to higher-performing schools. If the schools are considered dangerous, they may transfer to safer schools. Teaching methods would be based on research-based methods that work to ensure that every child can read at or above grade level by the third grade.
To accomplish this, at the primary and secondary level the Federal Government would increase education funding, under the ESEA, to more than $22.1 billion for elementary schools; Increase Title I funding to help the disadvantage to $10.4 billion. In addition the Initiative will provide $3 billion to recruit and retain highly qualified teachers and principals. The President promises to boast funding for reading programs to nearly $I billion dollars and provide $200 million for charter schools to expand parental choice.
The hope would be that the standards of public education would rise for all and not just the English-speaking students.
Who is on this Commission?
With so much at stake, our readers should be aware of who has been appointed to the Presidents Advisory commission. Under Executive Order 13230 they are required to submit an interim report to the President by September 30, 2002 and a final report will be due on March31, 2003.
Frank Hanna, Atlanta Ga.: CEO of HBR Capital Ltd a merchant banking firm.
Enedelia Schofield, Hillsboro, and Org.: Principal of W.L. Henry Elementary School.
Micaela Alvarez, McAllen, TX: A Partner of Hole & Alvarez law firm.
Christopher J. Barbic, Houston TX: Founder YES College Preparatory School.
Fernando Caldeiro, Texas: NASA astronaut.
Jose G. Canchola, Tucson, Ariz.: Chairman Canchola Group, a holding company of restaurant franchises.
Jaime A. Escalante, Roseville, Ca. Teacher in advanced mathematics.
Charles P. Garcia, Boca Raton, Fla.: Member Florida Board of Education.
Norma Garza, Brownsville, TX: Founder/Chair READS TASK FORCE.
Alexander Gonzales, San Marcos, Ca.: President California State University, San Marcos.
Miguel A. Hernandez, Sea Brook TX: Founder CEO Hernandez Engineering Inc.
Jose Hoyos, Dale City, Virginia: Pastor Holy Family Church (Catholic).
Patricia J. Mazzuca, Philadelphia, and Penn.: Principal Roberto Clemente Middle School.
Francisco J. Paret, Palo Alto, CA: Director Technology Investment Banking Group with Credit Suisse First Boston Corporation.
Alta Ramos, Beavercreek, Ohio: Commissioner Ohio Civil Rights Commission in Columbus.
Van D. Romero, New Mexico: Vice President at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.
Ofelia Saenz Vanden Busch, Houston, TX: Retired (2000) former Administrative Assistant to Governor of Texas.