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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 23, 2007

Contact:
Director of Communications
210/576-3206 or  210/367-0539
news@hacu.net

HACU Creates New Member Affiliation to Unite School Districts Across the U.S.

HSSD Members Will Shape National Agenda for Hispanic K-12 Success and Beyond

SAN ANTONIO – Traditionally, collaboration between K-12 schools and higher education has been limited to nonexistent.  A national advocacy group for Hispanics in higher education is on a mission to change that. 

The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), which represents institutions of higher learning with large numbers of Hispanic student enrollment, has introduced a new affiliation category –  Hispanic-Serving School District (HSSD) – whose purpose is to unite superintendents and college presidents across the country to shape a national agenda for Hispanic student success in education. 

HSSDs will include school districts whose total student enrollment is at least 25 percent Hispanic.  According to 2004 Department of Education data, there are approximately 1600 school districts which meet this enrollment criterion.  To date, HSSD affiliates are located in Texas, Arizona, Connecticut, New Mexico and Illinois.
 
“Pipeline issues in Hispanic higher education cannot be resolved without bringing together K-12 educators and higher education officials,” said HACU President Dr. Antonio Flores.

According to HACU, this new initiative addresses an urgent need in our nation’s future as the Hispanic population continues to grow faster than any other ethnic group in the U.S. and Hispanic students continue to fall through the cracks at all levels of education.

HACU-member institutions currently enroll more than two-thirds of all Hispanics in college today.  In the last 25 years, however, high school completion rates and college enrollment rates among Hispanics have increased only slightly and the gap continues to widen between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites. 

“More than a million more Hispanic students would be enrolled in college today if they were attending at the same rate as African Americans or non-Hispanic whites,” Flores said.  “This is a serious problem and solutions are long overdue.”

To address this issue, HACU officials recently convened Latino administrators, superintendents, educators and other education leaders during the association’s 20th annual conference held in San Antonio in late October. 

Some of the group’s recommendations at this meeting included developing a national agenda on K-12 issues, with special emphasis on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), better known as the “No Child Left Behind” Act.  HACU will present recommendations to Congress at its upcoming Capitol Forum in Washington, D.C. this March.

The group also expressed interest in developing pilot programs on dropout prevention and recruiting more Hispanic teachers, especially in math and science, two areas where Hispanics are sorely underrepresented.  Those surveyed would also like to see more legislative involvement at the state level and partnerships with Mexican educators to address the shortage of bilingual teachers in the U.S. 

A national Think Tank has also been formed in cooperation with the College Board, which will hold its first meeting in New York this summer.  By the end of 2007, the group will issue a report to include recommendations to help seal the leaks in the Hispanic educational pipeline, K-16 and beyond. 

New Program Director Hired

Jeanette Morales has also been hired as HACU’s new HSSD program manager in San Antonio.  For the last decade, Morales has helped many Hispanic students navigate their way through the college admissions and financial aid process while working on the Upward Bound Math & Science Program at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and as a pre-college advisor for Communities in Schools.  She holds a master’s degree in Education Leadership from UTSA.

“Our goal with this new affiliation category is to help students transition from one institution to another with greater success,” Morales said.  “We’re excited about adding the superintendents’ voices in helping shape a national agenda for Hispanics in education.”

For more information about HACU’s new HSSD membership category, contact Jeanette Morales at (210) 576-3220 or visit  www.hacu.net.


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