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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

FACT SHEET: Winning the Future: Out-Educating Our Global Competitors by Improving Educational Opportunities and Outcomes for Hispanic Students

Today, President Obama participated in a town hall meeting on education hosted by Univision at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, DC. The town hall, which provided the President an opportunity to talk with students, parents and teachers about the importance of out-educating our global competitors in order for America to win the future, will be broadcast on the Univision Network tonight March 28th at 7pm ET / PT, 6 pm CT.

In his State of the Union address, the President laid out his vision for America to win the future. The President made it clear that the most important contest we face today is not between Democrats and Republicans, but rather America’s contest with competitors across the globe for the jobs and industries of our time. To win that contest and secure prosperity for Hispanics and all Americans, we have to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.

In order to win the future we must win the race to educate our kids. Restoring the United States to its role as the global leader in education will require that we invest in strengthening and expanding educational opportunities for Hispanic students – from cradle to career. As the nation’s largest minority group, Hispanics 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 Hispanic.  Yet, only about half of all Hispanic 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. Only 13 percent of Hispanics hold a bachelor’s degree, and just 4 percent completed graduate or professional degree programs. 

President Obama 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 careers.  The Hispanic community will be key to meeting the President’s goal for the United States to have the best-educated workforce and the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.

Below is a fact sheet outlining some of the advances the Obama Administration has already made to address many of these priorities. For this and more information on how the Administration is tackling issues important to the Hispanic community and all Americans, visit


The years before kindergarten are the most critical for shaping a child’s foundation for later learning and America’s economic competitiveness depends on providing a high-quality learning environment for every child before they reach the kindergarten door.  Compared to other minority groups, Hispanic children represent the largest segment of the early childhood population in the nation, but are less likely than any other group to be enrolled in center-based early education programs.   By age 2, Hispanic children are less likely than their non-Hispanic peers to demonstrate expressive vocabulary skills.  Preschool-aged Hispanic children also exhibit lower average scores in language and mathematics knowledge than their non-Hispanic peers.

 President Obama has launched a comprehensive zero-to-five plan – to dramatically expand early childhood education and continue to improve its quality – aimed at supporting the health, well-being, and future educational success of our children. 
 The Obama Administration has invested $5 billion in early learning through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to bolster the existing framework of federal programs and services to reach our youngest children, including Head Start, Early Head Start, child care and IDEA services for infants, toddlers and preschool-aged children.  19 percent of the nation’s child care subsidy recipients are Hispanic children, and 33 percent of the nation’s Head Start children are Hispanic.

 Each day, over 11 million children under the age of 5 spend time outside of the care of their parents, and in a wide variety of environments – each of which should promote and encourage their early learning and development.  The Obama Administration’s newly proposed Early Learning Challenge Fund (ELCF) would issue a challenge to states to establish model systems of early childhood education and to fund and implement pathways that will improve access to high-quality programs, to ensure that a greater share of children kindergarten prepared for success. 


The Obama Administration’s Race to the Top program dedicates $4 billion to spur systemic reform and to embrace changes in education policies and practices that will improve teaching and learning in America’s schools.  A total of 46 states plus the District of Columbia applied to compete for a Race to the Top award, including 32 states which made significant changes in laws or policies to promote education reforms that are consistent with the principles reflected under the program.  President Obama has proposed to expand the competition to local school districts in his 2012 budget, requesting $900 million for a new Race to the Top competition.

• The 12 states that have been selected as Race to the Top winners – including Tennessee, Delaware, Rhode Island, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and the District of Columbia – reach approximately 22% of the nation’s Hispanic student population.

• The Obama Administration has also dedicated $350 million to support consortia of states as they work to replace the current low-quality, off-the-shelf assessments with others that measure college- and career-readiness, and that are more useful to teachers, parents and students.  From the beginning, these tests will be designed to fully include English language learners and to ensure that they are appropriately assessed.


In today’s global economy, a high-quality education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity – it is a prerequisite to success.  Because economic progress and educational achievement are linked, educating every American student to graduate from high school prepared for college and for a career is a national imperative.  The President has articulated this as the goal of America once again having the highest proportion of college graduates by the year 2020.  To achieve this goal, our Administration has advanced four reforms: improving access to rigorous coursework that prepares students for college and a career, and to assessments that accurately measure student learning growth;  ensuring that all students, including our neediest students, are taught by the great teachers they need, in schools led by effective school leaders; ensuring better data and information to follow student learning and to inform teaching; and implementing strategies to transform and improve those schools that have been persistently low-performing.  Undertaking these reforms will require both hard work and new ideas to support continuous improvement and spur innovation.
The Obama Administration’s Investing in Innovation Fund dedicated $650 million to support the development and scaling-up of innovative educational models and solutions that help close achievement gaps and improve outcomes for high-need students.  Through a competitive preference to applicants who focused on serving English language learners (ELLs), several of the winning applications under the Fund will incorporate plans to improve the achievement of ELLs, including:

• The Saint Vrain Valley School District in Longmont, Colorado, which will implement a project to address the unmet needs of Hispanic and English language learners at Skyline High School and its feeder schools, providing a sequence of focused for students. Elementary students will improve their literacy skills through focused supports and expanded learning time; middle school students will improve their mathematics skills and knowledge with math labs and an augmented school year;  high school students will have improved science learning opportunities through a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics certification track.

• The Exploratorium in San Francisco, California, which will work with Sonoma Valley schools on a five-year project to refine a implement a professional development approach to increase the percentage of elementary teachers who are highly effective in supporting the science learning of English language learners. 

In September 2010, the Obama Administration announced planning grants for 21 nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education under the Promise Neighborhoods, a program designed to support a cradle-through-college continuum of services to meet the educational challenges of students growing up in high-poverty communities.  President Obama has proposed $150 million in his 2012 budget to support implementation of Promise Neighborhoods projects.  Several grantees are developing plans to improve the learning, educational success, and healthy development of students in Hispanic communities, including:

• The Eastside Promise Neighborhood project in San Antonio, where the United Way will enlist and engage partners to work with five schools and an early childhood center serving an ethnically diverse neighborhood with a Hispanic majority and a growing Mexican immigrant population.  This project will improve parent engagement, provide professional development to preschool and school staff, and deliver resources for economic redevelopment and housing.

• The Community Day Care Center in Lawrence, MA, which will work with several schools to develop sustainable educational supports and solutions in a community that is 68% Hispanic, and in which 40% of adults lack a high school diploma.

• Proyecto Pastoral at Dolores Mission, which will work in the 30-block Boyle Heights area in Los Angeles, a community where more than 90% of residents are Hispanic and one-third of families are below the poverty line. 

Research clearly demonstrates that as students fall behind academically, the probability that they will drop out increases.   Hispanic students experience an unacceptably high dropout rate – a challenge exacerbated by the middle school achievement gap and by the fact that more than one-third of Hispanic high school students are academically below grade level. 

To help place a greater share of Hispanic students on track to college and careers, the Obama Administration is dedicating over $4 billion in School Improvement Grants to implement bold reforms that will transform one in twenty schools in America. 

• Approximately 5,000 schools, or 5% of the total, linger as persistently low-performing schools – schools that have failed to make academic progress year after year.

• At the high school level, roughly 2,000 schools – about 12 percent of all high schools – produce nearly half of our nation’s dropouts, and up to 75 percent of minority dropouts.

• Nearly 1,000 schools across the country have received funding thorough the Obama Administration’s School Improvement Program. Approximately 40% of these are high schools, and 22% serve middle school students.


Today, a higher education is not just a pathway to opportunity – it is a prerequisite. Over the next decade, nearly eight in ten new job openings in the U.S. will require some workforce training or postsecondary education. And of the thirty fastest growing occupations in America, half require at least a 4-year college degree. Rising levels of education are critical to creating shared economic growth.

America once had one of the most educated workforces in the world but today, only 40 percent of young adults have a college degree – ranking ninth in the world in college completion. While close to 70 percent of high school graduates in the United States enroll in college within two years, only 57 percent graduate within six years. For low-income and minority students, the completion rate is closer to 45 percent. Students from high-income families are almost eight times as likely as their low-income peers to earn a bachelors degree by age 24. Closing this college attainment gap is critical to restoring America’s standing as a global leader in higher education. 

Last year, the President signed the Heath Care and Education Reconciliation Act (HCERA) to help address college affordability, access and success, and to regain America’s standing as a world leader in higher education by the end of the next decade.  This legislation will help the nation reach the President’s goal, in part by putting college in reach for a greater number of Hispanic students: 

• Federal Financial Aid that Puts Students First.  By shifting the nation’s student aid system to the Direct Loans program, the HCERA put an end to wasteful subsidies to banks and used savings to strengthen college access for America’s Pell Grant recipients.  Together with previous investments, funding under HCERA will more than  double the amount of resources available to Pell Grants since President Obama took office, growing the award from $4,730 in 2008 to $5,550 today.  It is estimated that more than 150,000 additional Pell Grant awards would be made to Hispanic students by 2020.

• More Affordable Student Loans.  To ensure that Americans can better manage their student loan payments, the HCERA provides student borrowers new choices in how they repay their loans, including an income-based repayment option to cap monthly repayments at 10 percent of income for borrowers after 2014, and to have loans forgiven after 20 years.  Public service workers – such as teachers, nurses, and those in military service – will see any remaining debt forgiven after 10 years.  It is estimated that this expanded benefit will benefit approximately 143,000 Hispanic borrowers between 2014 and 2020.

• Building American Skills Through Community Colleges.  President Obama has proposed ushering in new innovations and reforms for the nation’s community colleges to raise graduation rates, build industry partnerships, expand course offerings, and improve career and educational pathways.   The HCERA includes a $2 billion investment to help America’s community colleges develop, improve, and expand education and career training to workers.

 Strengthening Hispanic-Serving Institutions.  Over half of America’s Hispanic undergraduates attend a Hispanic-Serving Institution – that is, a public or private nonprofit college or university that has a student body that is at least 25 percent Hispanic.  Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) serve a higher proportion of low- and middle-income students than their peers, and together they enroll nearly sixty percent of the nation’s 4.7 million minority undergraduate students.  To better reach the President’s 2020 goal, the HCERA invests over $2.5 billion in these institutions over the next decade – including $1 billion at America’s HSIs.  This funding that can be used to renew, reform, and expand higher education programs to ensure that Hispanics are provided every chance to rise to their full potential, earn their degrees, and enter or re-enter the workforce.