Politics & Government

Obama to renew Hispanic education initiative

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will renew a major initiative aimed at boosting academic achievement among Hispanic students.

The news delighted South Florida educators, who said local students would reap the benefits of a national dialogue on education and the Hispanic community.

``It's an idea whose time has come,'' said Miami-Dade schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who will travel to the White House Tuesday to help launch the initiative. ``The face of America has changed. It's time for a new national policy that addresses the needs of the fastest-growing population of students in the country.''

The topic is especially pertinent in South Florida.

In Miami-Dade County, more than 64 percent of public-school students are Hispanic. More than half say Spanish is their primary language.

In Broward, about 28 percent of schoolchildren are Hispanic.

Despite the growing numbers, a stubborn achievement gap exists between Hispanic children and their white, non-Hispanic counterparts. Nationwide, Hispanic teenagers have the highest dropout rate. And only one in 10 who drop out go on to earn a GED, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called those numbers ``economically unsustainable and morally unacceptable.''

``We're absolutely committed to providing every single child with a world-class education, regardless of his or her skin color, country of origin or ethnicity,'' Duncan said.

That's where the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics comes in.

The initiative began in 1990 under former President George H.W. Bush, and was renewed by former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

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