President Bush ordered creation of a federal education task force today that will seek to reduce relatively high dropout and illiteracy rates among Latinos in the United States.
Bush directed Education Secretary Lauro F. Cavazos, a Latino, to head the Task Force on the Education of Hispanic Americans, saying, "As Hispanics become the largest minority group in the United States . . . it becomes more and more important to overcome the crisis in Hispanic education."
According to the Census Bureau, there are now an estimated 20.1 million Latinos in the United States, 39% more than a decade ago. About a third are under the age of 21.
In his letter to Cavazos, Bush quoted recent statistics that Cavazos provided him, noting that between 9% and 11% of Latino students drop out of high school each year, the highest dropout rate of any major ethnic or racial group.
Every major report on adult illiteracy has found that the rate for Latinos is much higher than for the non-Latino population, Bush said.