Politicians eager to gain or retain the trust of Hispanic voters should focus on education and put particular emphasis on expanding school choice, suggests Julio Fuentes, president of the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options, in an op-ed in today’s South Florida Sun Sentinel. Here’s a snippet:
We know that education reform and school choice are top issues for Latinos, second only to jobs and the economy, based on the HCREO/AFC poll released this past summer of voters in five key battleground states including Florida. The poll found that education is a top-tier issue for battleground voters and Latinos – even more important than immigration, in some cases. The poll found that Latino voters in Florida, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and New Jersey are more likely than voters overall to cite improving education and increasing education options as core priorities.
Both presidential candidates stressed on election night that those in office must now work jointly and in a non-partisan way to address the great civil justice issues of our time. These issues include immigration, reducing the gap in quality educational opportunities for minorities, expanding school choice options so that all students regardless of zip code or socioeconomic background have a chance to excel. According to national data from the Pew Hispanic Center, only about 13 percent of Hispanic 25- to 29-year-olds complete at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 39 percent for whites in the same age group and 53 percent for Asians. This gap cannot persist.
(Full disclosure: Fuentes is a member of the board of directors for Step Up For Students, which co-hosts this blog.)