But Leaders Say Funding Not Keeping Pace with Demographics
For Hispanic education leaders, the year 2000 may go down as a landmark year for action in the nation's capital. With a special White House conference drawing national attention to their cause and a large budget increase all but certain this fall, Hispanic-serving colleges and universities are gaining new stature within federal agencies and on Capitol Hill. To many advocates, this attention is welcome but overdue, since they argue that only comprehensive initiatives can produce dramatic improvements for Hispanic youth.
"Without a comprehensive effort, we will have Band-Aid remedies that will not get to the root of the problem," says Dr. Antonio Flores, president of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. The association, headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, represents the interests of Hispanic-serving institutions, or colleges with enrollments that are at least 25 percent Latino.
Still, signs of progress for HSIs are evident on several fronts in 2000, within the Clinton administration and on Capitol Hill:
* A White House conference on Hispanic student achievement last June brought together the private sector, HACU leaders and K-12 education experts. At that high-profile meeting, President Clinton announced five key goals for Hispanic education, including higher college completion rates.
* Federal support for Hispanic-serving colleges, funded at just $10 million two years ago, is expected to reach $60 million -- and possibly more -- this fall. Both houses of Congress have approved bills that could mean a six-fold increase since 1998.
* New initiatives to promote college completion may provide funds for minority-serving institutions, including Hispanic-serving colleges and universities.
* Presidential candidates increasingly are taking on the cause of Latino education. The Republican candidate, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, recently proposed funding increases for Hispanic-serving institutions, while Vice President Al Gore's education agenda includes new grants and tax credits to promote college attendance.