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Commission Studies Status, Problems of Hispanic Secondary Pupils

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New York--Concerned that various national studies on the state of American education have neglected the problems of Hispanic students, a newly formed commission plans to issue its own report, timed for maximum exposure during this election year.

Several members of the National Commission on Secondary Schooling for Hispanics said the national studies of the nation's schools either failed to address or barely touched on the problems that plague Hispanic students--language difficulties, low representation in college, and in particular, higher dropout rates.

The 18-member panel plans to augment those studies, said David Vidal, its executive director. The commission has been visiting schools over the past few months and meeting with education and political officials in cities with large numbers of Hispanic students--including Los Angeles, Miami, and San Antonio.

"We will assess their recommendations as they relate to Hispanic students and will develop policy rec-ommendations of our own addressed to all levels of government," Mr. Vidal said.

"The other commissions," said Paul N. Ylvisaker, professor of education at Harvard University and co-chairman of the group, "assumed students in the future will be average, middle-class Americans. But demographics predict that the birthrate among the majority population will decline, and the student population of the future will be largely minority."

Mr. Vidal added that although language problems are widely acknowledged, "language is just one part of the many needs of Hispanic students."

"Most Hispanic students speak English, and their problems have more to do with educational policy and programs than language," he said.

Economic Concerns

The group's underlying philosophy, according to Mr. Vidal, is that "because a larger proportion of youth will be Hispanic or minority in the future, our economy will be more dependent on them. Your So-cial Security is going to depend a lot more on whether they have jobs, whether they learn. The times have changed; it is a sea change, and we are all affected."

The privately funded group, established in October 1982, includes educators, corporate officials, and Hispanic activists. Following its final hearing, scheduled to be held this month in Chicago, the commission expects to issue a final report in June.

The members acknowledged that the release of their findings in June is calculated to provide maximum exposure during a Presidential election year. "We want to educate the American government to the need for a commitment to education," said Nathan Quinones, a member of the New York City Board of Education who serves on the panel.

The commission is supported by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

The group is part of the Hispanic Policy Development Project, a Washington-based initiative that receives funds from numerous corporations and foundations.

Members of the commission are:

Mari-Luci Jaramillo, University of New Mexico and Paul N. Ylvisaker, Harvard University, cochairmen; Patricia V. Asip, J.C. Penney Company Inc.; Adrienne Y. Bailey, the College Board; Jean Fairfax, naacp Legal Defense and Educational Fund; The Rev. Patrick Flores, Archbishop of San Antonio; Josue N. Gonzalez, Chicago Board of Education; Richard R. Green, superintendent of schools, Minneapolis; Peter C. Hutchinson, the Dayton-Hudson Corporation; William L. Maloy, Naval Education and Training Command; William R. Marcussen, Atlantic Richfield Company; Nathan Quinones, New York City Board of Education; Angel G. Quintero-Alfaro, InterAmerican University; Robert A. Radeles, Homestake Mining Company; Anne Richardson, Reading Is Fundamental; Tomas Rivera, University of California at Riverside; Juan Rosario, Aspira of America Inc.; Dorothy Shields, afl-cio

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