The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans was established in September 1990 by President George H.W. Bush to provide advice and guidance to the secretary of education on education issues related to Hispanics and address academic excellence and opportunities for the Hispanic community. It was subsequently continued by President William J. Clinton under Executive Order 12900 [PDF, 15K] and President George W. Bush under Executive Order 13230[PDF, 95K].
During the Clinton Administration, the White House Initiative was governed by the Presidential Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. The commission was tasked with: eliminating education inequities and disadvantages faced by Hispanic Americans; increasing Hispanic participation in federal education programs; eliminating unintended regulatory barriers to Hispanic participation in federal education programs; promoting and publicizing education opportunities and programs of interest to Hispanics; and encouraging private sector, state and community involvement in improving education for Hispanics. The commission issued several reports, including Creating the Will: Hispanics Achieving Educational Excellence [PDF, 1.35MB], and What Works for Latino Youth [PDF, 379K].
In 2001, the Bush Administration issued Executive Order 13230 [PDF, 95K], which established a new Presidential Advisory Commission and ensured the White House Initiative would continue in its role of staff support.
The commission was tasked with examining the underlying causes of the existing education achievement gap between Hispanic American students and their peers, and issued interim and final reports on the subject, The Road to a College Diploma[PDF, .98MB], and From Risk to Opportunity [PDF, 1.79MB], respectively. When the commission dissolved in 2003, the White House Initiative’s focus shifted to community outreach and the establishing of its partnership program, Partnership for Hispanic Family Learning.
In December 2011, the Obama Administration appointed José Rico to the position of executive director. In this capacity, he is responsible for directing the efforts of the White House Initiative in engaging Hispanic students, parents, families, organizations and anyone working in or with the education system in communities nationwide as active participants in improving the academic achievement of Hispanic Americans.
Executive Order 13555
On Oct. 19, 2010, President Obama signed Executive Order 13555, renewing the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. This historic event demonstrated the president’s strong support for the critical role Hispanics play in the overall prosperity of the nation and highlights the Administration’s commitment to expanding education opportunities and improving education outcomes for all students.
New elements of the executive order place a high priority on action, such as:
- Working directly with communities nationwide in public-private partnerships, linking together key individuals and organizations from within and outside the education system to increase capacity and announce communitywide education initiatives.
- Establishing a Presidential Advisory Commission and national network of community leaders that will provide real-time input and advice on the development, implementation and coordination of education policy and programs that impact the Hispanic community.
- Forming a Federal Interagency Working Group to exchange resources and address issues impacting the lives of Hispanics nationwide, including housing, health, finance, employment and education, among others.
Participants in the invitation-only event included: key Department and administration officials; Hispanic national and community leaders; elementary, middle, high school and college students; and parents. Thousands more individuals and groups nationwide watched the signing ceremony via the Web. More than 25 community Watch Parties with wraparound activities were held in 20 states.
Prior to making his remarks, President Obama was introduced by Javier Garcia, II, a sixth-grade student from Brownsville, Texas, and member of the graduating class of 2020. The President was joined on stage by: White House Initiative Executive Director Juan Sepulveda; Assistant Secretary Thelma Melendez; Assistant Secretary Eduardo Ochoa; Eduardo Padron, president of Miami-Dade College; Millie Garcia, president, California State University-Dominguez Hills; Francisco Cigarroa, chancellor, University of Texas System; Ivan Chavez, student, Morton East High School, Cicero, Ill.; Haydee Cruz, student, Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz.; and Adriana Cedeno, student, Housatonic Community College, Bridgeport, Conn.
During his remarks, the President introduced Eduardo Padron, president of Miami-Dade College, as the chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission. No other members were named, as the vetting process for nominees will not be completed for several months.
National Education Summit and Call to Action
In 2009, the White House Initiative visited more than 90 communities in 20 states to engage citizens concerned with improving the lives of Latinos.
To mark the next step in connecting communities nationwide with information, resources and people to improve the academic achievement and lives of Hispanics, the White House Initiative convened key Education Department and Administration officials, and national Hispanic education, community and business leaders for a National Education Summit and Call to Action (PDF, 180K) on Oct. 18, 2010, in Washington, D.C. This one-day event at the Organization of American States provided a forum whereby these leaders could share their expertise and resources to assist communities in expanding education opportunities and improving education outcomes for Hispanic students. Nearly 300 participants attended.
In addition, in an effort to include individuals and groups who are unable to attend the summit in person, the White House Initiative encouraged communities to form local Watch Parties.
These local events included cultural and education-related activities in addition to the broadcasting of the summit to watch party participants. More than 20 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico participated: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.
Summit materials available for download include: