I cannot help but wonder what happened to all the rhetoric about education being first and foremost on the top of the American agenda. With all this mud-slinging from both parties during this presidential election campaign, I have seen no real national discussion on the topic of education at any level, especially during these last few weeks in which we as Americans prepare to vote for the next president of our country.
We have recently seen the teachers in Chicago strike for the first time in 25 years because union contract negotiations stalled. The United States of America, being the industrial superpower that we are (well, tell that to China and India), is today struggling to keep our children highly educated, let alone graduating from high school. So what happened to our American society and its support of investing in education and in our children? Why are our children’s issues taking a back seat?
It really is simple: kids just don’t vote! Especially in a closely-contested presidential race like this one, the campaign strategists are looking at key voting blocks like swing voters, and trying to court them like sirens in the night. This is why healthcare and Medicare are such big buzzwords in this presidential election because, simply put, senior citizens always vote, and are thus a very powerful voting group.
According to the U.S. Census, more than one-third of the U.S. Latinos are 18 years old or younger and half are under the age of 26; two-thirds of U.S. Latinos are of Mexican decent; over 80 percent of Latino youth are U.S. born; a majority of U.S. Latino students report English as their primary language; over half of Latino teens live in California or Texas; AND two-thirds of Latino youth live in two-parent families.
So why are all these “Latino” facts so important? Because our Latino youth population is not only the country’s largest population segment, but extremely influential in their own Latino households. I remember, growing up, our family always had dinner together. We watched Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salina Univision’s nightly news religiously. I know for a fact my younger brother and I were able to influence or at a minimum put a bug in our parents’ heads about the topic of the day. This is true for a majority of Latino households. This ladies and gentlemen is influence, power and votes!
Mr. President and Governor Romney…. I think it’s time you listen not only to our American youth, but also to the sleeping giant that is now fully awake.