President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order that seeks to improve Hispanic Americans’ access to educational and economic opportunities.
The order establishes the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative, which will be housed in the Department of Education. The initiative’s mission is to improve access to educational and economic opportunities for Hispanic Americans, with one such way being to encourage private-sector initiatives and fostering public-private partnerships.
“At the heart of our strategy to create a prosperous future for every Hispanic American, as well as all Americans, is a great family of education. We are going to have a tremendous program, and we have,” Trump said at the Rose Garden ahead of the signing of the order. “And, you know, we’re a believer in choice. Choice. The other folks don’t believe in choice, and choice is a great civil rights issue and maybe the great one of our times.”
“I’m going to fight to ensure that every Hispanic American parent has the freedom and the right to send your child to the public, private, charter, faith-based, magnet, home, or independent school of your choice,” Trump told the crowd of current and former Hispanic elected officials, business leaders, and others.
“And school choice is an incredible issue in many ways. It’s a political issue, I agree. Most people agree with us,” the president added. “The smart ones definitely agree with us. But it’s also a moral issue, and it really is a fundamental issue of civil rights. No American student should ever be trapped in a failing government school, which has happened so often for so many years. It’s one of the problems you see when you see these cities going up in flame.”
The executive order also creates an advisory commission to focus on Hispanic prosperity. The commission is to be composed of no more than 20 members to be appointed by the president, and may comprise people “with relevant experience or subject matter expertise in promoting educational opportunities and economic success in the Hispanic American community.”
The commission will also include the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the Secretary of Education, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration—or their designees, according to the executive order.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos issued a statement on Thursday applauding Trump on the executive order. She said that the Department of Education is working to “open up new career pathways including apprenticeships and earn-and-learn opportunities, expanding support for Hispanic Serving Institutions, prioritizing new public charter schools in Opportunity Zones, and fighting for education freedom so Hispanic students—and all students—can find their right fit.”
“Hispanic families, like so many families across America, want their children educated in personalized ways that meet their unique needs and their family’s values,” she said. “We know that a great education is also the launching pad to a great job and long-term prosperity.”
In remarks at the Rose Garden, Trump praised charter schools as being a successful educational model and said that it has been “under unceasing attack from the radical left.”
A charter school is a public school that is independently and privately run and “receives greater flexibility over operations in exchange for increased performance accountability,” according to the National Charter School Research Center.
State laws and charter contracts provide schools with autonomy over curriculum, personnel, budget, and schedule. Charter schools, like regular public schools, are not allowed to charge tuition.
“More than 1 million Hispanic American children attend charter schools, and nearly one in three charter school students is Hispanic American,” Trump said.
“I’m proud that under my administration, we’ve delivered $1.5 billion for public charter schools. That’s a record,” he added. “As long as I’m President, I will never let your charter schools be taken away from you, be taken down. I will never let you down. I will never let Hispanic American or any American down.”
He also said that the Hispanic American high school graduation rate has reached an all-time high in U.S. history, while the dropout rate has reached an all-time low.
‘Open Our Schools’
Trump also urged for schools nationwide to reopen while criticizing the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, a novel coronavirus from Wuhan, China, that caused a worldwide pandemic. He also expressed hope for a “swift, full, and complete recovery” for Hispanic Americans and the Hispanic American community from the impacts of the CCP virus.
“Before the plague from China came in … before it came in and hit us, we achieved the lowest Hispanic American unemployment rate and the lowest poverty rate ever recorded,” Trump said. “We achieved the highest-ever incomes for Hispanic Americans and many other American groups and communities. We built the greatest economy in history, not only for our country, but for the world. We were number one, by far.”
The unemployment rate for Hispanic Americans was at 3.9 percent in the second quarter of 2019, but has since risen to 16.7 percent amid the CCP virus pandemic, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Our strategy focuses on sheltering the most vulnerable, including older Americans and nursing home residents, while allowing those at lower risk, such as young and healthy—children, in many cases; the immune system is so powerful, so strong—but the young and the healthy to safely return to work and to school. We have to open our schools. Open our schools,” he said. “Stop this nonsense. We open our schools.”
“Germany, Norway, so many countries right now, they’re open,” Trump continued. “The schools are open and they’re doing just fine, and they’re opening in the fall. So we have to get our schools open. Denmark, Sweden. We have to get our schools open and stop this political nonsense. And it’s only political nonsense; it’s politics.
“They don’t want to open because they think it will help them on November 3rd. I think it’s going to hurt them on November 3rd. Open your schools.”
Bowen Xiao contributed to this report.