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President Names Advisers on Latino Education

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Calling the improvement of education for Latinos a critical goal for the nation, President Bush on Thursday appointed a 17-member advisory commission to help him implement his 1990 executive order on Latino education.

The President said the commission will “advise me and the education secretary, Lamar Alexander, on the progress of federal efforts to improve education for Hispanic-Americans.” He acknowledged that the appointments, coming a year after he signed the executive order, were overdue.

“We recognize the crisis in education and employment for young Hispanic-Americans,” Bush said in an interview with Latino reporters at the Four Seasons Hotel. “At a time when Hispanics are the fastest-growing and youngest minority in the United States, their wages and school completion rates are among the lowest.”

In fact, Latinos, who make up one-tenth of the nation’s population, have the highest dropout rate of any racial or ethnic group--more than 40% never get a high school diploma. This figure compares to an 18% dropout rate for blacks and a 14% rate for Anglos.

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Bush said federal educational spending had dramatically increased during his Administration, and he voiced support for bilingual education programs, greater parental involvement in the schools and giving students the ability to attend the school of their choice.

To help carry out the Latino federal education programs, Alexander has named John Florez, a Labor Department official, as executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.

Among the commission members appointed Thursday, four are from California but none is from Los Angeles County. Leticia Quezada, a school board member of the Los Angeles Unified School District, said that was a “gross oversight” because Los Angeles County has the nation’s highest concentration of Latino students.

Progress since the executive order was issued a year ago has been “very slow,” and the process to name a commission had become “almost dormant,” Quezada said. “Perhaps this is an opportunity for a beginning.”

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Among commission members are chairman Andres Bande, a Chicago businessman; pro golfer Nancy Lopez; Raul Yzaguirre, head of the National Council of La Raza; Robert J. Miranda, a Santa Ana executive; Peter H. Coors, president of Coors Brewing Co., and Peter George Mehas, superintendent of the Fresno County Schools.


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