Equity & Diversity

Group to Press for School Choice For Hispanics

By Mary Ann Zehr — October 15, 2003 3 min read

Robert Sanchez, 17, of San Antonio, partipates in a news briefing at the National Press Club in Washington last week to help the organization Hispanic CREO announce its nationwide school choice campaign.
—Photograph by Allison Shelley/Education Week

Hispanic parents in the United States don’t have much choice in where they can send their children to school—and if they’re given more choice and act on it, Hispanic children are likely to do better in school.

That’s the underlying assumption of a new nonprofit organization, the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options, or Hispanic CREO. The organization held a press conference here on Oct. 9 at the National Press Club to mark its official launch on a national level.

Hispanic CREO, which means “I believe” in Spanish, was founded in 2001 by a San Antonio businessman, Robert B. Aguirre, and some other Hispanic activists. Funded with money from private donors and foundations, it opened an office in Washington about a year ago.

School choice is the best way to address the current educational crisis among Hispanics, Mr. Aguirre, the chairman of Hispanic CREO, said at the press conference. “We believe [school choice] to be an inherent right for all,” he said.

But a report by researchers from the New York City-based Manhattan Institute, released at the event, gave only limited research evidence that school choice would improve educational outcomes for Hispanics.

The lion’s share of the report, “No Exit: How Lack of Educational Choice Shortchanges Hispanic Students,” documents the vast achievement gap between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites.

Last year, for example, about twice as many Hispanic students as their non-Hispanic white peers in three grades scored “below basic” in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

On the last page of the 56-page report, the researchers briefly cite two studies that concluded Hispanic children improved their educational outcomes by taking part in school choice programs in Milwaukee and San Antonio. In general, the report says, school choice programs have been found to improve outcomes for the students who participate.

Jay P. Greene, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and one of the authors of the report, said at the press conference that research outcomes are “suggestive” that school choice could improve the education of Hispanics.

Filling a Niche

Hispanic CREO is perceived by other national Hispanic organizations as primarily an advocate of vouchers.

Robert B. Aguirre, the chairman of Hispanic CREO, speaks last week at a press conference to discuss the group’s agenda.
—Photograph by Allison Shelley/Education Week

Shortly after its formation in 2001, Hispanic CREO filed a legal brief in support of Cleveland’s voucher program in a case, Zellman v. Simmons- Harris, that was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court ruled in June 2002 that the voucher program was constitutional.

Hispanic CREO uses the words “school choice” rather than “vouchers” on its Web site and in publicity materials. Mr. Aguirre said in an interview last week that the group isn’t avoiding the word “vouchers,” but that “what we’re about is school choice.”

“Vouchers is one of the mechanisms to accomplish that,” he said.

The press conference featured four Latino youths who were said to have improved their academic achievement by attending charter schools, along with Robert Sanchez, 17, a Mexican-American from San Antonio who received a good education by attending a private military academy. He did so with the aid of a privately financed voucher from the Children’s Educational Opportunity Foundation in San Antonio, of which Mr. Aguirre is the managing director.

If Hispanic CREO does choose to focus on promoting vouchers for Hispanic students, it will fill a niche that isn’t yet being occupied, representatives of the National Council of La Raza and the League of United Latin American Citizens said last week.

They said that Hispanic advocacy organizations are either opposed to vouchers or haven’t taken a clear position on them.

LULAC, located in Washington, opposes vouchers.

The National Council of La Raza, also in Washington, has raised $19.2 million to support a network of public charter schools, but doesn’t take a position on vouchers.

Raul Gonzalez, an education policy analyst for the organization, said research hasn’t yet shown that either charter schools or voucher programs improve schooling for Hispanic children.

“To say that school choice is the missing element for improved educational outcomes for Latinos—it’s a stretch at best,” he said.

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Advance Educational Equity
Schools are welcoming students back into buildings for full-time in-person instruction in a few short weeks and now is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and systems to build
Content provided by PowerMyLearning
Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Equity & Diversity Opinion Q&A Collections: Challenging Normative Gender Culture in Education
Ten years of posts on supporting LGBTQ students and on questions around gender roles in education.
1 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Equity & Diversity Video These Schools Served Black Students During Segregation. There's a Fight to Preserve Them
A look at how Black people managed to grow a solid middle class without access to so many of America’s public schools.
According to The Campaign to Create a Julius Rosenwald & Rosenwald Schools National Historical Park, the two-teacher school was developed between 1926-1927 and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2009. The building is now owned by Cain’s Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, which sits adjacent to it.
The Russell School (also known as Cain’s School), a Rosenwald school in Durham, N.C., pictured on Feb. 17, 2021.
Jaclyn Borowski/Education Week
Equity & Diversity Letter to the Editor Former Teacher: Essay on Equity Falls Short
A retired teacher critiques an essay about equity in this letter to the editor.
1 min read
Equity & Diversity Opinion 'Students Deserve to Know Our History'
Two educators wrap up a four-part series on how teachers should respond to attacks on critical race theory and lessons on systemic racism.
9 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty