One of our nation’s most enduring themes is that education and prosperity go hand in hand. As we move deeper into a global economy dominated by knowledge, technology and innovation, and an increasing number of jobs require a postsecondary degree, educational access and attainment are more important than ever.
So it should be no surprise that our failure to keep up with the rest of the world on matters of education poses dire consequences for our economy and national prestige.
Here are some important statistics: the U.S. ranks 14th in global college completion and by 2020, an estimated two-thirds of all jobs will require an education beyond high school.
We have seen a troubling trend for low-income and minority students — students who, in the past, have been left to fend for themselves. This is particularly true for Latinos — who represent the fastest-growing, youngest demographic in the country. Thousands of Latino students, who have with the smarts and skills to succeed in college, aren’t even applying. Increasing degree attainment among this particular demographic is essential, considering our nation’s goal to re-establish our place as the world’s leader with the highest proportion of college graduates by 2020. As the U.S. strives for global competitiveness, training a new generation of workers is increasingly critical.
As a young man who grew up on the streets of the South Side of Chicago and today is a successful businessman, I have a particular appreciation for the importance of a well-educated, diverse workforce. I have seen the devastating effects of repeated cycles of poverty on those who can’t break it. That’s why I feel so strongly that all students who are academically prepared for the intellectual demands of college — no matter their location, background or socioeconomic status — have a right to fulfill their potential.
I have known many Latino students, in particular, who have the academic potential to succeed in college but lack role models and resources. They need support and guidance. They need parents, teachers and schools that foster a college-going culture in the earliest grades.
If you work on behalf of students or feel your expertise could help to support traditionally underserved students, I strongly recommend that you attend “Prepárate™: Educating Latinos for the Future of America” from May 1 to 2, 2013 at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago. Hosted by the College Board, the conference will convene the voices and best practices of some of America’s most respected educators and advocates to improve academic success and opportunity for Latino students. Teachers, counselors and administrators from high schools and colleges will address critical issues within Latino education and focus on successful strategies that include: creating opportunities for students to experience challenging high school course work that prepares them for college; strengthening students in math and science for STEM careers; and ensuring high school graduation and improving timely college graduation rates. To register and for more information, please visit http://preparate.collegeboard.org.
We face, in no uncertain terms, a crisis that threatens our nation’s long-term health and prosperity; America’s success in the 20th century was achieved not only through the might of our arms but the dexterity of our minds.
It is our responsibility as parents, elected officials, administrators and business leaders to support each and every one of our students. We must be advocates and we must keep pushing our students to achieve greatness above and beyond even their own expectations. If we fail, our failure will become theirs. If we succeed, our success will echo for generations.
Martin Cabrera, Jr.
Cabrera Capital Markets