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The Importance of Education for the Success of America’s Latino Community

Roberto Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy, will be participating in this year's LATINO Magazine Latino Youth Forum addressing the issue of the Latino high-school drop out rate and reinforcing the importance of a competitive education system for all Americans.

Today at 2pm EST, I will be participating in LATINO Magazine’s 2011 Latino Youth Forumin Washington, DC.  As a part of a panel made up of educators and community leaders, and moderated by CNN commentator Maria Cardona, we will be discussing a very real crisis plaguing the Latino community - the number of Latino students dropping out of school.

As a greater share of our young people compete with their peers across the globe for the jobs and industries for our time, President Obama has called us to be engaged in a race to the top.  America needs a workforce that is smart, skilled, creative and equipped to succeed in today’s global economy.  Our ability to meet that demand is being decided every day, in schools and classrooms across our nation.  The future of our economy is inextricably linked to the strength of our education system; we will not win this global contest until we secure the educational advancement and success of America’s Latino community.    

As the nation’s largest minority group, Latinos number more than 11 million students in America’s public elementary and secondary schools and constitute more than 22 percent of all pre-K-12 students.  More than one in five students enrolled in America’s schools is Latino.  Yet, only about half of all Latino students earn their high school diploma on time; those who do complete high school are only half as likely as their peers to be prepared for college.

Our Administration is working to reform America’s schools and to build a world-class education system that will deliver the complete and competitive education needed to prepare every child for college and a career.  As the Obama Administration works to re-shape K-12 education, to invest in innovation, and to develop new solutions for closing the achievement gap, the work of education reform can have a profound effect on America’s Latino communities – fulfilling our commitment to equality and unlocking the doors of opportunity for millions of Latino students and their families.

I look forward to the opportunity to hear directly from Latino students about their personal experiences and concerns, andI encourage you to watch the live webcast, as well as join our discussion, by visiting from 2-4pm EST.

Roberto Rodriguez is the Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy.