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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Adam Chavarria
Executive Director, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans
February 3, 2004

Adam Chavarria
Thank you for allowing me to participate in today's "Ask the White House". First, let me state that I believe that we all have a stake in the education of our children - parents, families, businesses, entire communities. No Child Left Behind provides the platform that enables us to work together to ensure that all Latino children receive the high quality education they deserve. With that, I'll be happy to entertain your questions.

Rose, from Minneapolis 'Mn. writes:
How can we relate the importance of an education to so many Hispanic's comming into our country .

Adam Chavarria
Dear Rose, thank you for your question. Many Hispanic immigrants, like so many before them that came to this country at the turn of the last century, sought a better way of life for their children and families.

They share the same dreams and aspirations as we all do for our children's education. However, they do not always know how to navigate the public education system and may not be able to speak English.

Thus, they often lack the information they need help to guide their children through the education maze. However, thanks to the Title I (for low-income schools and school districts) and Title III (for English Language Learners) provisions of No Child Left Behind, these parents now have more options and opportunities to permit them to become strong advocates for their children's education.

Perhaps President George W. Bush put it best when he stated, "This nation of immigrants believes that all children, whatever their circumstances, deserve a chance to learn, and rise, and succeed. This principle has guided my education reforms as we work to raise the standards of public schools across America and bring hope to every classroom, for every child. I mean every child, not just a few, and not just those whose parents may speak English. We want educational excellence "para todos que viven en este pais."

WB, from Austin, TX writes:
Do you think the recently approved DC voucher program will be successful? Do you think it will influence school choice programs throughout the country? Is this a sign that members of congress are ready to commit to the pillars of No Child Left Behind?

Adam Chavarria
WB, thank you for starting us off with a very important question.

I believe parents, especially low-income parents, should be granted every opportunity and option to enroll their children in a school of their choice, particularly if their child is presently enrolled in a low-performing school.

A voucher program that provides parents this choice will not only help their children obtain a quality education, it also stands to improve public education overall.

Several studies suggest that this competition - the risk of losing students at low-performing schools to other schools - actually improves academic performance at the low-performing school.

So, the voucher program recently approved in Washington, DC is destined to succeed, as other vouchers programs have already demonstrated in other parts of the country.

Providing parents options and choices, a key pillar of the No Child Left Behind Act, is producing the positive results the President and Congress envisioned when it passed this educational reform in January of 2002.

I believe that Congress will continue to support and embrace the pillars of No Child Left Behind, particularly for the lasting implications it holds for finally ensuring that Hispanic children receive the quality education we wish for all American children.

paulo, from dc writes:
Who is the highest ranking hispanic in the Administration? Do you encourage hispanic-americans to get involved in government through your initiative?

Adam Chavarria
Hispanics serve at various levels of President Bush's Administration including Surgeon General Richard Carmona, White House Counsel Al Gonzales, Small Business Administrator Hector Barreto, Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez, former Housing Secretary Mel Martinez and former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin. In fact, more Hispanics have served in George W. Bush's Administration than under any previous President. Certainly, the call to serve this country through public service is an honorable one, not just for Hispanic Americans, but for all citizens.

Sarah,, from North Surry High School, NC writes:
How does one justify (under NCLB) forcing children to be accountable for their scores on high-stakes tests when all the research available on sencond-language learners and ELLs agrees that any test in English is a test of English?

Adam Chavarria
Sarah, thank you for your question. The response is, however, complex. Thanks to the work of the Office of English Acquisition (OELA) at the U.S. Department of Education, many of the issues confronting English Language Learners are being addressed by states, school districts, schools, educators, and administrators.

Let me begin by stating that under No Child Left Behind, states must develop English Language Proficiency Standards that are aligned to the Academic Content Standards.

Teachers will be teaching Academic language in any of the Language programs - not in what is often referred to as "playground English" or just social and communicative skills which is the instruction that has been offered in our classrooms for the past 30 years.

Currently, new assessments are being developed to measure the progress of acquisition of the English language. The assessment instruments will be piloted this spring. What I have just described is for language assessment.

As for Content Assessment, Title III under No Child Left Behind states, LEP students will be assessed for content (Reading and Math) on a valid and reliable instrument to extrapolate what a student knows. Students may be tested in native language (for content) for up to three years.

After three years in the system, students will be tested in English. The decision to NOT use native language testing for the first three years is a state choice. For the states that do not offer native language content assessment, they will test in English and may use "accommodations." The list of accommodations is available on the OELA website at the U.S. Department of Education or on OELA's Clearing House website

The assessment instruments described above are two separate instruments and do not measure the same things. Therefore, a test administered in English is no longer a test of English. It will heavily depend on aligned instruction to the state's Content and English Language Proficiency Standards. I hope this helps answer your question.

Christian, from North Carolina writes:
Forecasts show that by 2020 at least one out of five high school graduates in many states will come form a Hispanic household. What are colleges andor university systems doing TODAY to cope with this unalterable future? How will states -especially those new to Hispanic immigration in the southeast or mid-west- face this phenomenon?

Adam Chavarria
We firmly believe that No Child Left Behind, the most important educational reform in the last 30 years, is the foundation for the increased educational attainment of our nation's Hispanic children and youth.

We anticipate that this increase in educational achievement will result in a dramatic increase of Hispanic youth that will be academically prepared to successfully undertake the rigors of a post secondary education.

As the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans noted in their final report to the President, From Risk to Opportunity: Fulfilling the Educational Needs of Hispanic Americans in the 21st Century, postsecondary institutions must build capacity in order to accommodate this burgeoning student body.

These institutions must assess their institutional capabilities and develop an integrated vision and action plan in order to be prepared to meet the needs of this growing and better prepared student population.

Many states that are non-traditionally high Hispanic population states are encountering questions that they have not, until recently, been prepared to answer, we encourage these states to look towards those programs and initiatives that have been successfully implemented in traditionally high Hispanic population states, and to evaluate how these solutions may be adapted to meet their needs.

Tom, from Greeley, CO writes:
First, let me say I am a huge supporter of this President an his educational priorities. Thank you for taking my question

With the administration's focus on evidence-based outcomes and educational accountability (i.e. NCLB).

What role does (if any) does bi-lingual education play in today's educational setting?

Respectfully submitted,

Tom Muniz

Greeley, Colorado

Adam Chavarria
NCLB Title III does not speak to specific programs. NCLB Title III requires states to create an accountability system that measures two things for every non- English speaking student in the state.

States have ensure that all ELL's learn English and "hit" the same academic achievement targets set for all students. How a state chooses to operationalize these two aspects of the law is up to each state.

That they do this for each student is what we in OELA (Office of English Acquisition) monitor and provide technical assistance. A state may choose to offer bilingual programs, dual language programs, two-way immersion programs or just an immersion program in English.

It is state choice. Regardless of program - it must be administered based on the most current scientific-based research and it must produce student outcome results for English language proficiency and academic content.

Jasmin, from Wilmington, N.C. writes:
I would like to know how would a hispanic person could get schoolarships and grats to pay for college. Since I'm puertorican and my mother cannot help me pay for my education, maybe the goverment or associations can?

Adam Chavarria
Jasmin, thank you for a question we frequently receive. I would first direct you to the wealth of information that is available through the U.S. Department of Education.

The Department's student financial assistance program includes grants, work-study, and loans. Grants are financial aid you do not have to pay back.

Work-Study lets you work and earn money to help pay for school and loans are borrowed money that you must repay with interest. You can apply for Federal Student aid by completing and submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The FAFSA is the application form for aid from the federal government. You can apply using the paper form which can be obtained by calling United States Department of Education's Federal Student Aid Information Center at (800) 433-3243 Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (EST); or via the Internet by visiting

You can also request additional publications on student financial assistance such as the Student Guide and Funding your Education by calling the above mentioned phone number or you may also obtain them electronically at You can visit for more information on federal funding opportunities.

Additionally, your state department of education may offer financial aid programs. You can learn about state programs and other programs by contacting your state department of education or the college you plan to attend. There are many private scholarship search services that provide lists of "sources" of financial assistance for which you may apply. The following sites may be helpful in your search for other forms of financial aid:
The Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) is the largest Hispanic scholarship-granting organization in the nation.
This organization grants scholarships to Hispanic Americans all across the country.
This page provides a free, comprehensive, independent and objective guide to student financial aid.
This site has a database of more than 180,000 scholarships, grants, fellowships and loans representing billions of dollars in private sector funding for college students living in the United States.
This site has a database of over 400,000 scholarships.
The College Entrance Examination Board maintains this site. All information is solely for personal, institutional or non-commercial use.

These sites and the organizations that sponsor them are independent of the United States Department of Education. The Department of Education does not endorse them, but I mention the sites for your convenience, so that you can decide if these, or other sites, have the information or ideas that will be useful to you.

Alex, from San Antonio writes:
What are the top 5 or 10 priorities for the White House Initiatives?

Adam Chavarria
Our Initiative is not a program office, meaning that we do not distribute grants, rather we provide research, support and advice to the Secretary of Education Rod Paige issues pertaining to Hispanic education. We have one paramount priority - to close of the educational achievement gap between Hispanic Americans and their non-Hispanic peers.

scott, from denver writes:
What can we do to help bring the NCLB conference to Colorado?

Adam Chavarria
This weekend in the Bronx, we are hosting the third in a series of seven nationwide education conferences sponsored by the Partners in Hispanic Education. This historic collaboration brings together some of the nation's leading Hispanic organizations, corporate leaders and national private entities in the important mission to improve education for Hispanics in the United States. Although still in the pilot phase, we hope to rollout this effort further in the coming months.

Andrew, from Washington, D.C. writes:
Would you please describe the mission of your component, when it was established, and your approximate yearly budget?

Adam Chavarria
Andrew, thank you for your question. President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13230 on October 12, 2001 creating the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans (Commission).

In the same Executive Order, the President created our office. We work closely with the U.S. Department of Education Secretary Rod Paige and his staff to help implement the provisions of No Child Left Behind.

Joel, from Los Angeles writes:
Mr. Chavarria, I'm an American of Hispanic (Mexican) heritage. I work for Los Angeles Unified as a school psychologist. Everyday is an opportunity to touch one life at a time in what I do and it is good news to hear that President Bush promotes educational excellence for all Americans. By what means does the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans plan to impact Hispanic Americans on a larger scale and how do they anticipate Hispanics in local communities will benefit from its ideals in a tangible way? Thank you for the work you are doing. Best regards.

Adam Chavarria
Joel, thank you for your kind words. We are employing public/private partnerships as an important vehicle to help address the educational needs of Hispanic Americans.

Public/private partnerships have proven to be productive vehicles through which a range of organizations can collaborate in pursuit of common objectives and shared visions.

Effective use of such partnerships can draw upon the strengths and experiences of a variety of organizations to create innovative approaches to addressing the educational needs of Hispanic American children, youth, parents, and adult learners by engaging the entire family in the learning process.

And, there are important roles for the federal government, corporate America, business, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders to play in this process.

Paty, from Deerfield, Kansas writes:
Why do you think that there are so many hispanics students droping out of High School? What can we do to lower the rate?

Adam Chavarria
The President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans correctly identified the need to disaggregate data in their interim and final reports to the President.

While the Hispanic high school dropout rate has remained alarmingly high for too long, it is necessary to more closely examine the data in order to create and implement strategies that will be effective.

Answers are needed for such questions as: How many of the students that are being counted as dropouts are native born and foreign born? Are persons being counted as dropouts when in fact they came to this country to work? What is the impact of native education systems on the educational attainment of Hispanics in the United States?

Key to lowering the dropout rate is academic preparation, raising expectations, quality instruction, and accountability - all elements of No Child Left Behind. To do any less would relegate Hispanic Americans to the what the President calls the "soft bigotry of low expectations".

Adam Chavarria
Thank all of you for your questions and interest in the the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. It is a priviledge and an honor to work with President Bush and Secretary Rod Paige to ensure that we provide all American children with the quality education they deserve. We will do our part and hope to enlist your help in this endeavor. To learn more about our work, please visit /

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