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37% of Latinos Don't Finish HS. 34% Are Below Grade Level.

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  • 37% of Latinos Don't Finish HS. 34% Are Below Grade Level.

    The Dropouts

    By Mayra Rodríguez Valladares


    December 2002
    Copyright © 2002 HISPANIC MAGAZINE.
    All rights reserved.


    The dialogue at left comes from Los Desertores (The Dropouts), a bilingual musical written by Puerto Rican playwright Radamés Gavé about Latino high-school students. Gavé wrote much more than a play about Latinos dropping out. The play is art imitating Latino student reality across the United States. It is a haunting refrain of the plight Hispanic students face in schools all across the country.

    Many Hispanic children are not learning to read and write. Almost half do not graduate from high school or are below grade level. At best, the lack of education condemns people to a life of menial jobs and poverty. It can also sentence them to a life of welfare, unemployment, or crime.

    Statistics from the U.S. Department of Education tell the story. Thirty-seven percent of Hispanics do not finish high school, compared to 15 percent of the national average. The percentage of Hispanic teens who drop out of high school is and has been higher than that of African Americans and Caucasians each and every year for the last three decades. Even among those Hispanics who remain in high school, 34 percent are below grade level.

    People who deal with children and educational issues everyday–the true experts–agree: The status of education for Hispanics in this country is in a state of crisis!

    It will get worse before it gets better. The U.S. Census Bureau expects the number of Hispanics to almost double from 35 million to 63 million by 2030. Hispanics will make up 25 percent of the kindergarten—12th grade population by 2025. The economic consequences of poorly educated students are staggering for the country as a whole. Education should be a national priority, more so for Hispanics who are lagging the national average.

    The process of improving educational standards begins with Hispanic parents. Those who do not care must be taught the importance of a good education. Those who lack the resources must be empowered to address their children’s needs. Politicians must accept reality and provide the resources to address our community’s greatest need–the education of our children.

    The lesson for Hispanic parents and the nation is clear. The modern economy requires a well-educated labor force. If children are not well educated, where will companies find their productive employees tomorrow?

    The Hispanic Scholarship Fund, a non-profit organization, has the admirable goal of raising the percentage of Hispanics who have a college degree from 9 to 18 percent of all U.S. Hispanics. Not only is the Fund challenged to raise funds, it must also hope that students graduate from high school. The Fund, in conjunction with Rand, one of the most influential think tanks in the country, conducted a study that analyzed the economic impact of Hispanics’ lack of education.

    The analysis found that if the nation were to invest one dollar toward having Hispanics receive a college degree, the return on investment would be 4:1. This means that the benefit of having college-educated Hispanics in higher-paying jobs available only to college graduates would represent higher taxes, contributions to social security, and disposable income that Hispanics would be able to plow back into the economy. According to Sara Martínez Tucker, president and CEO of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, many of her funders come to her and say, "If only Hispanics valued education like Asians." She strongly disagrees: "We do, but [Hispanic] families also have other needs."

    "The stories from Los Desertores are based on real lives," explains Manuel A. Morán, executive and artistic director of the Society of the Educational Arts (www.sea-ny.org). He says that Los Desertores poignantly conveys the message: when kids drop out of high school, they are dropping out of mainstream society. The story is much the same throughout the country.

    Usually, before students drop out, they start skipping classes, an obvious sign that they are at risk. Municipal Judge Ernest Aliseda, who hears truancy cases in the border town of McAllen, Texas, recites a litany of reasons why children skip classes and eventually drop out of school. He disguises the names of students who have come before him, but the cases are all too real. "María skipped class to go eat off campus. Juan did not do his homework in one or several classes and does not want to show up unprepared," he says. "Sergio has to work at night and often does not wake up in time for first period. Clara’s parents are fighting all the time and are getting a divorce. Pedro’s parents use drugs and so does he. He is too stoned to go to class, and they are too drugged to know if he goes to school."

    Once students miss classes, they begin to fall behind. Falling behind leads them to miss more classes and soon they drop out. The results are disastrous. They are faced with a life of: functional illiteracy; significantly lower earnings; double the rate of unemployment than for graduates; four times the likelihood of ending up on welfare than for high school graduates; and being at higher risk of becoming a criminal. Fifty percent of state prison inmates are high-school dropouts.

    Understanding the Causes

    One cannot ignore economic reality. Almost 40 percent of Hispanic children are raised in families that are below the

    poverty line, a rate twice as high as that of Caucasian children.

    Language proficiency is also a problem. Many immigrants to the U.S. are illiterate in Spanish, which makes learning English a daunting task. The problem turns into a vicious cycle.

    "Uneducated parents are not in a good position to know what the best education for their kids should be despite the fact that they want a good education for their children," says Mr. Ronald Blackburn-Moreno, president and CEO of ASPIRA Association, Inc, an organization dedicated to helping Hispanic students.

    He adds that Latino children who enter school speaking only Spanish have the "double task of learning to speak and read English. Once students are in elementary, even in middle school, their inability to read causes them to drop out."

    The problem starts before children enter formal education programs. Latino children are seldom placed in pre-school programs. Head Start covers only one-third of children eligible nationwide. "This is especially a problem in inner city and immigrant areas," says Blackbrun-Moreno. Less than 15 percent of all Hispanic American children participate in pre-school programs. Children who do not participate are already behind by the time they enter kindergarten. It is very difficult for them to ever catch up.

    The fact that most Hispanic children are crammed into schools with few resources seals their fate. According to Charles García, chairman and CEO of My Sterling and a presidential appointee to the President’s Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, "there are low expectations by school personnel, ill-prepared teachers and administrators, limited coordination among schools, parents and communities on behalf of students, and tracking into non-academic fields." García also believes that "the active participation of parents in the education of their children is not facilitated, and the educational assessments, often in the form of tests in English, are incorrectly used to make decisions that negatively impact the student." It all conspires "to discriminate against Hispanic children!"

    "With all these problems students are often bored, unhappy, and feel isolated in school," says García. "I will never forget when my little sister told me, ‘What is the point of going to school? It is a white man’s world anyway.’ Edgar’s song in Los Desertores brought back memories of her lament."

    How do we even try to solve this enormous problem? The need to provide Hispanics with a better education needs serious national attention. Leslie Sánchez, executive director of the White House on Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Education believes that President Bush has focused on the problem.

    The President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans has as its goal "to ensure progress is made in closing the academic achievement gap for Hispanic students. By raising expectations for Hispanic families and providing the tools needed to increase their educational attainment, we hope to achieve this goal."

    Work at a grassroots level, however, is more critical. Domestic and foreign non-profit organizations have tackled the task of improving education amongst Hispanics. ASPIRA has literacy and other educational programs for immigrants, adults and children, and in Puerto Rico it also has pre-school programs.

    The Mexican Cultural Institute of Houston has launched a Hispanic Literacy Task Force with a mission to improve the education provided to Hispanic students in Texas. According to program director José-Pablo Fernández, the task force is especially interested in "raising the educational levels, literacy, and second language skills" among Hispanics.

    Some private-sector firms realize they cannot afford to ignore the educational plight of the fastest-growing segment of the national workforce. Procter & Gamble addresses the issue by distributing a U.S. Department of Education video titled Vamos Juntos a la Escuela that looks at four areas: parent involvement, readiness to learn, reading and mathematics, and preparing young children for college.

    Spanish language television networks Univisión and Telemundo also help. They have conducted a broad-based television campaign of public service announcements titled Education Matters. All public service announcements displayed the U.S. Department of Education 800 number so that viewers could request Spanish language publications in the areas of reading, math, college access, and parent involvement. García also highlights the efforts of the Mott Foundation and the Macarthur Foundation, which have made extraordinary investments in after-school programs for Hispanic Americans.

    Extremely important, programs must target parents concurrently with children. Fernández always tells parents: "Keep your children motivated to study and read to them starting at the earliest date possible. Parents are the key to the educational success of Hispanic children." Sánchez agrees: "Parents must demand that their school system provide the components of quality instruction, including qualified teachers who meet the demands of their state." Yet, often parents are so overwhelmed with one or two concurrent jobs, that they don’t have the time nor the knowledge to help their children. Children’s academic success depends on everybody. They are tomorrow. It is imperative to enter the fray to stop the haunting motif of Los Desertores.

  • #2
    However, the children of Cuban exiles do much better than the average hispanic. Perhaps we should emulate them. Sometimes latino inmigrants emulate African Americans and then they realize their methods do not meet their needs.


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    Stanley

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Stanley
      However, the children of Cuban exiles do much better than the average hispanic.
      I think that's mainly due to the fact that most Cuban exiles are of Cuban middle and upper class that fled after Castro's revolution. Therefore, most of them know the value of education, have the economical resources for their children's future, and their European features allowed them to be more accepted by gringo society.

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      • #4
        This has nothing to do with European features. If we follow this logic then all Asian kids would do badly in school. In fact in many areas Asian kids do better than anglosaxons. I assume you are a latino (perhaps from PR)and all of a sudden you are given me the usual knee jerk response that one usually hears from the American black community. They blame everything on racism. As latin Americans we should emulate other latins who have found the way to succeed. It seems quite clear to me that Cubans have the highest socio-economic level in the USA among all latin groups (as high as anglo in many cases). They do so because they have a great work ethic. And I agree with you, this is something they carried with them when they came from Cuba to this country. However, you must not forget one thing---------- they were penniless, they had nothing, but the clothes on their backs. In the end all that matters is the work ethic and the desire to make it. So I say lets copy the proven way to success from our Cuban brothers and lets no emulate the unproven ways of American black folks. From a cultural point of view I have a whole lot more in common with a Cuban than with an American (black or white).


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        Stanley

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Stanley
          This has nothing to do with European features
          First of all, yes I'm Boricua and a regular, outspoken memeber of this forum.

          Second, you can't write that European features and characteristics has nothing to do with ones success and act that people will believe you. Discrimination of race or ethnicity, however diminished it is in today's society, still exists. I've never blamed everything on racism, but you must look at all social factors. That was one of the points I made and even that was misinterpreted by you.

          I never wrote that just because you have European features you'll do better in school. That's ludacris and isn't something African-Americans or Latinos say or write because it would be a direct contradiction to their beliefs of equality. I firmly believe that one is able to succeed in the USA despite their race. What I wrote was that their [Cuban exiles] European features (remember, the Cuban revolution was in 1959, USA society was much more racist back then.) allowed them to be more accepted by USA society, not that their educational abilities were better because of the color of their skin. Their educational abilities were and are better because they were of the Cuban middle and upper classes and brought with them vast fortunes. (Not all of them came peniless. Those that did brought themselves up the social and economic latter again because they already had good educations, connections with the anti-communist USA gov't, and received help from their fellow wealthy Cuban-exiles) This is the main reason why they've done so well.

          You'll see that more recent immigrants from Cuba, the poor from the island, have been less successful than those Cubans who came from Cuba in the 50's and 60's due to the fact they are way less connected and educated. However, the work ethnic they've received in Cuba and the mentality they see in Florida, allow them to succeed. However, look at Cubans in NYC or Chicago, they're not as successful as those in Florida.

          Race has always been an issue of the Latino and Boricua communities in the USA, especially during the 50's, 60's and 70's. I'm not using it as an excuse for the problems of our communities, I'm just acknowledging it in a time when there was much more discrimination that there is now and having European features meant more opportunities. Now, of course it's different, but not totally erased.

          I also agree that Boricuas should learn from the Cuban community and other successful Latinos, but don't act as if the Cuban-exile experience was some miracle or they are superior beings. The history and socio-economical reasons for their emigration is different from those of Boricuas, therefore it's much easier to say or write "let's copy them" than it actually is.

          P.S.
          Only 25% of Cubans have college degrees. For non-Latino whites, it's 34%. 73% Of Cubans finish H.S., for non-Latino whites, it's 94%. Cubans are still #1 out of all Latinos, (Not by a vast majority either) but are not #1 in general. Also, If that's your picture you've posted on your signature, than I'm not surprised from your comments.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Ecuajey

            P.S.
            Only 25% of Cubans have college degrees. For non-Latino whites, it's 34%. 73% Of Cubans finish H.S., for non-Latino whites, it's 94%. Cubans are still #1 out of all Latinos, (Not by a vast majority either) but are not #1 in general. Also, If that's your picture you've posted on your signature, than I'm not surprised from your comments. [/B]
            I am glad that you agree that Cubans have more academic success than other latinos in the USA. Why not try to copy what they do? I never hear anyone say that. I am not sure why that is the case, but I would surely try. I am old enough to remember the 1st wave of Cuban exiles that came to PR in the early 1960s. As a child I remember a pleasant Cuban man who used to pump gas (in those days there was no self serve). My dad used to joke around with him a lot. Well, guess what?----------- Three years later the Cuban man owned the gas station! I still remember how we (the local puertoricans) used to resent their drive to make it in this world. Jose Miguel Agrelot (Don Cholito, a local comedian) had a parody in TV where he would portray a Cuban man named Pancho Matanzas who had a zillion ways of making money to get ahead including been an encyclopedia salesman. I resented their rapid success, but shortly afterwards it turned into admiration. These Cubans were doing something we should have done a long time ago.

            Regarding my picture: That is who I am today and I am very proud of been a puertorican who preaches a strong work ethic. I am also tired of watching my fellow puertorican citizens throw away their future by trying to emulate the Mexicans or the African-Americans whose methods have not been as successful as the Cubans. But, guess what, perhaps we should emulate the Asians instead of the Cubans. They also have a great work ethic and a true understanding of how to achieve in school. Did you know that the overwhelming majority of latinos in the USA are of Asian ancestry? That is the ticket-- lets emulate those who know how to make it!!


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            Stanley

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            • #7
              And What About the Cuban Mafia...etc.


              Well, Stanley, I don't know what your ethnic heritage is, but if it is Cuban, then what you say is more than statistical; it is hyperbole.

              Yes, and you probably are aware that the Cubans have received more federal assistance from the US gov't than any other immigrant or refugee group in the history of the US. True also is that they have a leg up on the social ladder, involving education and skills, because they did come from a social class in Cuba that was elite and successful in business, education, and red-lining preferential treatment. This lasted, of course, until they had their run-in with the real Reds, who ejected them from power in Cuba, and from Cuba itself.

              There is also one more thing that needs to be mentioned, and which you, if Cuban, conveniently omitted. And that is that the these Cubans were very successful in organized crime, too. They had a demimonde Cuban Mafia that also filled their coffers with ill-gotten profits. Perhaps, you might tweak this, by thinking that criminal activity of such an organized type is part and parcel of being a total Capitaliist, i.e., that profit maximumization is the accepted bottom line for them, whereever and however it can be "achieved" even if it is organized crime. But one thing more, and which you and no one can deny, is that these Cubans brought the Cuban Mafia to the shores of the US, and in Florida, in specific, it is totally operational, and has become another scourge against a decent and civilized society. It has penetrated all sectors of American society, including the political sector in the US, and contrary to all appearances nothwithstanding, it is a negative element in the real politiks of the U.S.of A..

              HACIA LA VICTORIA SIEMPRE BORICUAS,
              Soy Puertorrique/no y Punto.
              EddieR
              E.1: TWO STEPS FORWARD, ONE STEP BACK - V.I. Lenin

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Stanley
                Why not try to copy what they do? I never hear anyone say that....I am also tired of watching my fellow puertorican citizens throw away their future by trying to emulate the Mexicans or the African-Americans whose methods have not been as successful as the Cubans....Did you know that the overwhelming majority of latinos in the USA are of Asian ancestry? That is the ticket-- lets emulate those who know how to make it!!
                First of all, do you just read parts of my diatribes and ignore the rest? I already stated why it's easier to say or write "let's just copy them" than it really is from the plain fact that the history and the social and economic realities of the Cuban diaspora is much different from those of other Latinos. However, we as a people should drive to work hard and remove the docility from the minds of our people, because only our people know our people.

                Also, I've never seen any Boricua copy a Mexican, lol. I've seen some associate much more with African-Americans, mostly due to the fact that Boricuas have much African "blood" and our poverty and struggles for equality in the USA have coincided with those of African-Americans. However, I've read from a Spanish-language newspaper, "¡Exito!" that African-Americans are 50% more likely to start small businesses than Cuacasions, compared to only 20% of Latinos, most of which are Mexicans. Remember, most Mexicans in the USA are either poor agarian immigrants themselves or the descendants of them and we all know or should know the history of African-Americans in this country. Cubans, however, as I've already stated many times, were mostly already well-educated, former memebers of the Cuban elite.

                Also, a good work ethic is not the only reason for success, because from what I've seen, Mexicans have one of the best work ethics I've ever seen...but still lag behind Cubans and even sometimes Boricuas. Why is that in your opinion since you discard my diatribes as nonsense?

                Finally, what does the fact that the people from Asia 15,000 years ago who came to the Western Hemisphere through the Baring Strait in Alaska, thus are the ancestors of "native americans" have to do with a good work ethic?

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                • #9
                  Equajey:

                  I read everything you write and believe it or not I understand. You are saying that that "know how" regarding how to make is much better ingrained in the Cubans than in lets say the Mexicans since their Cuban ancestors were themselves better educated. I fully agree with that, my dad was a lawyer and my mother taught algebra and trigonometry in high school. I was born in an environment where education was everything. However, my grandparents had no college education and they still had the concept right. BTW my parents are a product of the depression and they had to make lines to get food to eat. However, education for them was everything. In the end what we need is a massive propaganda to instill this principles into folks who come from a background where education is not considered important. However, I really get turned off when I hear someone say we need more money for this and we cannot make it because the schools are too white. That train of thought makes my blood boil.

                  The original settler of the entire American hemisphere is of Asian origin and by definition the Tainos were also Asian. So why not emulate them? How can you explain a Vietnamese who comes to America who can barely speak English and then four years later graduates as Valedictorian with a scholarship to MIT. We need to have this work ethic if we are going to compete.


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                  • #10
                    Saludos!

                    One has to strive in this life. If you want to be a bum you will be a bum, you want to live off the government, to get your little lame coupons, and other assistance and do nothing else but watch TV, eat, and go to sleep, that is what you will get.

                    Now there is another side of this argument. People tend to learn from others, things rub off. What Stanley is saying is somewhat solid. I tend to agree with him, that if people were to look at one person and see what makes them tick, see what works for them, and they are lets say trying to go into gardening, and this Asian guy is a excellent gardener. You would like to know what he went through and what has worked for him, and then you would try to apply that sort of notion to your ethic.

                    I mean come on guys. That is why so many books are written and geared towards the masses. They are trying to make others apply methods of thinking, working, etc etc towards the people.

                    So I see what Stanley is saying and I agree with most of what he is saying. I don’t see him saying, lets be a Cuban or a Mexican. I see him saying lets take someone elses methods, ideas, etc etc, lets make it our own, and succeed in life!

                    ~Jake

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                    • #11
                      Hey Jake!

                      At least we have two good looking dudes who agree with each other.

                      Suerte!!!!

                      Stan


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                      • #12
                        [QUOTE]Originally posted by Stanley
                        [B]Equajey:

                        The original settler of the entire American hemisphere is of Asian origin and by definition the Tainos were also Asian. So why not emulate them? How can you explain a Vietnamese who comes to America who can barely speak English and then four years later graduates as Valedictorian with a scholarship to MIT. We need to have this work ethic if we are going to compete.
                        _______________________________________________________________

                        Dear Stan:

                        You know, I hate to burst your bubble but....the examples you use just really get to me. How can I explain a Vietnamese who comes to America who can barely spea English and then.....

                        Well here goes my experiences with Vietnamese. They very much like the Cuban were handed the US in a silver platter because they were lackies for the CIA in Vietnam.

                        Example: I went to train Hispanic teachers and parents to start a gifted and talented trilingual program. Spanish, English and Vietnamese. The parents of the Vietnamese children would do everything for them including do their homework, make sure their children had a Vietnamese bilingual assistant that would even take the tests for them. They always made As and even if the child was "borderline" they made sure that child was in a class for the gifted and talented. I can imagine them in MIT! (Not the department of linguistics with Wayne O'Neill or Norm Chomsky of course).

                        Now, they wanted their children to be with white children only and fought for "English Only" so that they were effective in destroying all the bilingual programs. They stole the money of the gifted and talented children and made sure they took the jobs away from the Hispanics (mostly Mexican Americans). The Black population could not understand that these people came from a war torn country and believe in nothing except brute force (the stereotype of course). What really upset me was when they (the Vietnamese became the administrators for Hispanic Student Services at the District and at the State Level), they control Bilingual Education, Migrant Education, English as a Second Language, etc. When they started telling the Mexican American Secretaries that if they found out they were helping Mexicans file civil rights complaints against the school district they would kick the kid out of their pregnant bellies! That was too much for me! I am mounting a war against such racism and inhumanity and you should not be applauding such behavior. If you don't believe it, get into the kitchen of educational equity!

                        If that (inhumanity) is what it takes to make it in the society, if there is no place for equity, honesty and love. You can have your "American Dream" it is a nightmare, Stanley.

                        Paz Para Vieques.

                        Yautia

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                        • #13
                          It's E-C-U-A-J-E-Y

                          Originally posted by Stanley
                          I read everything you write and believe it or not I understand....The original settler of the entire American hemisphere is of Asian origin and by definition the Tainos were also Asian. So why not emulate them? How can you explain a Vietnamese who comes to America who can barely speak English and then four years later graduates as Valedictorian with a scholarship to MIT. We need to have this work ethic if we are going to compete.
                          No, I don't think you understand, because you're repeating yourself when I already made my point.

                          Yes, I understand, we, as Boricuas, need a great work ethic to compete with the world. I understand and as you can see in my diatribes on this thread, I've already agreed on that point. However, I disagree on how we should approach that. You seem to like to point towards different ethnicities and how they've succeeded in the USA. Well I could do the same for many other ethnicities and show how they've not. The fact is, you can't do that because there's always two-sides of the arguements and you must realize the cultural differences between those ethnicites and Boricuas. We must improve our work ethic by changing our culture by our own people, not by copying other cultures. We could learn from them, but take what we learn and make it our own.

                          Also, why don't you say that we're all African since all human beings came from African hundreds of thousands of years ago? Puerto Ricans have very few Taíno blood and within that, Taínos are not asians. As I wrote, yes, the Western Hemisphere was inhabitated by people from Asia (Much different from Asians now.) 15,000 years ago. That's long enough to create a different culture, language and religion...which already happened in a great scale. If you're going to use a Vietnamese and Taíno as an example, it's better to say why one human does better than the other, because in a sense, we're all related.

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                          • #14
                            Ecuajey writes:

                            Also, why don't you say that we're all African since all human beings came from African hundreds of thousands of years ago? Puerto Ricans have very few Taíno blood and within that, Taínos are not asians. As I wrote, yes, the Western Hemisphere was inhabitated by people from Asia (Much different from Asians now.) 15,000 years ago. That's long enough to create a different culture, language and religion...which already happened in a great scale. If you're going to use a Vietnamese and Taíno as an example, it's better to say why one human does better than the other, because in a sense, we're all related.
                            I was getting ready to respond but when I read this, Ecuajey, I found that you summed up every salient point that I was about to make! Excellent!

                            Stanley writes:

                            I am glad that you agree that Cubans have more academic success than other latinos in the USA. Why not try to copy what they do?
                            Copying only yields imitation without originality. We Boricuas can excel on our own talents and preserve our sense of identity in the process. We can admire the accomplishments of others but if we believe that we can follow in the same exact footsteps and achieve successes on par with those who have gone before, we will be sorely disappointed. We must follow our own path with diligence and tenacity and aim for that which looks very difficult to achieve. It is only in those moments when we exceed our own perceived limitations that we touch greatness. As we strive, we make this greatness our own and make the impossible, possible.

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                            • #15
                              Jacob Estrada writes:


                              Girls scream; " Ti amo ti amo Estrada!" After all girls love me, men hate me
                              ....And then you woke up.

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