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La Liga de Las Americas

Dear Editor,


We shouldn’t be surprised with the stories carried in the Dec. 7, 2007 edition of La Prensa regarding the Latino drop out rate in Cleveland at 78 percent and the youth gang issue.


I have been ‘harping’ this issue for the past 10 years. I first learned of the drop out rates when I became involved with Toledo Public Schools (TPS), and was surprised that the rate was 48 percent for Latino youth, and that was reinforced after reading a RAND study published in conjunction with the PEW Hispanic Research Center in 1998, which listed the national drop out rate at 52 percent. 


We, as a culture, should not be surprised by the alarming statistics regarding our future generation, or, are we simply sticking our heads in the proverbial sand?


The focus for our adult portion of our culture should be to engage the issue rather than try to find answers or research the research, to debate the validity of those statistics. We need to work within our own communities to foster the encouragement by taking action, getting involved with finding ways to keep our kids in school—to plant the seeds of the value an education provides to bare fruit so the future becomes a better harvest. I have written about the lack of our representation in all areas of successful endeavors such as business, academia, politics, and medicine.


The marketers read the latest census data and have been successful in targeting the buying power of our culture. Latinos are the second largest minority with 13% since the 1990 census, with projections to reach 20 percent within the next decade and a half. You can walk into any major chain store and see bilingual signage everywhere. They want you to buy, buy, buy! 


But where we are missing the boat with our large numbers is that we are underrepresented in the areas aforementioned. We are not 13 percent of business owners of Fortune 500 companies; nor do we have representation in both houses of U.S. Congress equal to our population. You don’t see a representative number of college professors, teachers, or mayors.


But what we do read is that we are overly represented in the U.S. Armed Services, prisons, and in the un-employment rolls. And, alas, as high school drop-outs.


We cannot sit for this! We must engage ourselves with our elementary schools, as mentors, volunteers, career day speakers—anything that can help show our future generation that “Education is the key which opens many doors of success!”


I believe that it is incumbent to reach back into our communities when we become successful. It is a shame if we don’t. I know many leave the barrios upon reaching a goal, or the rung on the ladder of success, because, after all, that is the ‘American Dream.’ But we must not forget our cultural roots and go back and lend a helping hand to those who are doomed to fail, if you pay attention to the numbers.


I was told by a very wise man, that true success is made whole when you help others become successful; otherwise, individual success is just another selfish ideal that follows along with greed and ego. That man was my father, who always taught me and my siblings to share our gifts with the least of those. He passed away this past April and my way to honor him is to continue his legacy of helping others.


Won’t you join me in finding ways to stem the tide and see what help your neighborhood school needs to help our Latino youth by staying in school and pursuing a college education? I am sure there is no shortage of needs, just a shortage of Latino men and women to lend a helping hand!




José Limón, Jr

Engineering Specialist

General Motors, Global Advanced Vehicle Development

Warren, MI

Formerly of Rossford OH, class of 77 and GM TPS Hispanic Outreach Coordinator

December 2007





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