Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Florida Schools Add ‘Latinos in Action’ Course to Schedules

A new elective course in six Florida high schools will explore Latino cultural heritage, among other topics, through literary and performing arts. Source: Flickr/ Ray_from_LA

An elective course designed to motivate Hispanic students to finish high school and go to college will be piloted in six Broward County, Florida high schools this fall. 

Scott Travis of the Sun Sentinel reports the class, Latinos in Action, will focus on four major areas: 

  • College readiness, personal development, biculturalism and professionalism
  • Literacy tutoring opportunities at nearby elementary and middle schools
  • An exploration of cultural heritage through literary and performing arts
  • Leadership opportunities through student-led service, social and professional committees

The school district, the sixth largest in the country and second largest in Florida, educates approximately 81,000 Hispanics — about 31 percent of its student population. Seventy-eight percent of those Hispanic students graduate high school, compared with 83 percent of their white, non-Hispanic peers. 

Research has shown students benefit from a culturally relevant education, with Mexican-American students’ chances of graduating high school increasing nearly 10 percent after participating in a Mexican-American studies course. A University of North Carolina study found teens who maintain strong ties to their Latino culture perform better academically and adjust more easily socially. 

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said in the Sun Sentinel article the initiative not only empowers students to take an active role in their education, but it also encourages them to give back to the community through mentorship and service opportunities. 

“The district is developing the class with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, created by President George H.W. Bush in 1990 to help improve Latino student achievement,” Travis writes.