White House officials visit USF to discuss education

The White House’s national “Community Conversation” tour, an education initiative, will stop by USF today to discuss improving education of the Hispanic population.

Two forums will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. in the Gibbons Alumni Center. Director of the U.S. Department of Education’s White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans Juan Sepulveda, USF President Judy Genshaft and representatives from local businesses and school districts will be among those speaking.

Each conversation will focus on “how Latino education attainment can and should be improved” and “what the White House initiative should be doing to facilitate this improvement.”

Students are encouraged to attend, and the conversations are open for audience involvement, said Braulio Colon, assistant director of Engaging Latino, African-American, and other communities for Education (ENLACE) Florida.

“It’s not just a panel … (the White House initiative) is interested in hearing from students,” Colon said.

About 65 to 70 people are expected to attend each conversation, he said. ENLACE Florida invited the White House tour to USF about two months ago, Colon said.

ENLACE Florida thought the White House tour was “a good fit,” since both groups are working toward improving education, Colon said.

ENLACE is a grant-funded program that focuses on education for “underrepresented groups” like African-Americans and first-generation college students.

Information from these discussions will be incorporated into an executive order that President Barack Obama is going to “reauthorize,” Colon said.

The Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans Executive Order, created in 1990, is geared toward federal efforts to “promote quality education for Hispanic Americans,” according to ed.gov.

The order increases opportunities for Hispanic Americans to “participate in and benefit from federal education programs” and help Hispanic parents prepare their children to graduate from high school and post-secondary institutions, according to fhwa.dot.gov.