Home > Opinion > The Hispanic Prosperity Initiative: Its cheerleaders and detractors (opinion)

The Hispanic Prosperity Initiative: Its cheerleaders and detractors (opinion)

By ThisIsReno

Submitted by Norm Robins

An idealist is one who, on noticing
That roses smell better than a cabbage,
Concludes that it will also make better soup.
H. L. Mencken

In July 2020, President Trump had a signing ceremony of the Hispanic Prosperity Initiative in the White House Rose Garden. Its stated purpose:

“While we celebrate the many ways Hispanic Americans have contributed to our Nation, we also recognize that they face challenges in accessing educational and economic opportunities. In the last 3 years, my Administration has supported school choice, Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), and new career pathways, including apprenticeships and work-based learning initiatives, because quality education options offering multiple pathways to economic success are critical to developing our Nation’s potential for the jobs of tomorrow.”

Trump went on to say:

The executive order I will sign in a few moments will expand our efforts across all the federal government to deliver educational and economic opportunity for Hispanic Americans.  At the heart of our strategy to create a prosperous future for every Hispanic American, as well as all Americans, is a great family of education…And, you know, we’re a believer in choice.  Choice. The other folks don’t believe in choice, and choice is a great civil rights issue and maybe the great one of our times. I’m going to fight to ensure that every Hispanic American parent has the freedom and the right to send your child to the public, private, charter, faith-based, magnet, home or independent school of your choice…No American student should ever be trapped in a failing government school, which has happened so often for so many years. It’s one of the problems you see when you see these cities going up in flame. One of the most successful educational models is the charter school, which has been under unceasing attack from the radical left. Charter schools. Charter schools have been incredible, but they’re under attack, and you know why they’re under attack.

More than 1 million Hispanic American children currently attend charter schools, and nearly one in three charter school students is Hispanic American. I’m proud that under my administration, we’ve delivered $1.5 billion for public charter schools. That’s a record. As long as I’m President, I will never let your charter schools be taken away from you, be taken down. I will never let you down. I will never let Hispanic American or any American down. That, I can tell you.

Robert Unanue, CEO of Goya Foods, a producer of Latin foods that calls itself “the largest U.S. Hispanic-owned food company,” was one of the guest speakers. He said of President Trump, “We’re alltrulyblessed…tohavea leaderlike President Trump who is a builder, and that’s what my grandfather did: he came to this country to build, to grow, to prosper. And so,wehavean incredible builder…and wepray for our leadership, our president, andwepray for our country thatwewill continue to prosper and to grow.”

The Internet immediately lit up with calls to boycott Goya foods.

Unanue is a third-generation descendant of founder Prudencio Unanue Ortiz who emigrated from Spain to the U.S. in 1918 and built a thriving food business catering to Hispanic tastes.

To people like Unanue, Trump’s words and his Initiative are beautiful. Functional, too.  Take, for example, the low-income students at Libby C. Booth Elementary School in Reno. They are, to a large extent, Hispanic, reportedly 59%. Many of them are academically low-achieving children, and it’s no wonder.  A teacher doesn’t know how long it has been since the child’s last meal. Perhaps the child is living with his underemployed single mother in a motel. Where can a student study in an environment like that?  According to data from GreatSchools.org, the children at Booth test 23% proficient in math, 26% in reading and 12% in science, all way below average. This Initiative may help get kids out of Libby Booth by getting their parents out of hotel rooms.

That boycott call doesn’t seem to be working. I recently visited one of my favorite grocery stores, Marketon at 1500 S. Wells in Reno, a store that caters to the Hispanic community. Its shelves are festooned with every imaginable food from Goya. The customers there didn’t seem fazed by the boycott call. Goya products were moving.

Unanue and I have something in common. We are both the grandchildren of immigrants. At the time of my grandparents’ immigration, a decade or so before Pudencio’s, there were private charities and self-help organizations to give them a hand adjusting to their new home, their new language, and their new culture. I learned to love America at my grandmother’s knee and through her eyes. America wasn’t always perfect, but frequently it was. But America was perfectable. And since my grandmother instilled in me her love for America it is moving smartly in that direction.

These are lessons I have never forgotten. Perhaps Robert Unanue did the same, learned to love America at his grandmother’s knee. Now we have the Trump Administration giving Hispanic immigrants a hand. One would think Hispanics would universally applaud that. The Internet buzz says not so. But Goya reports its sales are up. That’s no wonder. People like me are going out of their way to thank Mr. Unanue by buying his products.

It is President Trump who is giving Hispanics a hand up rather than a handout. And it will start with parental choice and school vouchers. Hispanic children and their parents, not the teachers’ unions, will be the ones to benefit. So will the Country.

Norm Robins is a retired entrepreneur and ex-engineer whose first love is economics and who has lived and worked all over the world.  He has a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and an MBA in International Business from the University of California, Berkeley.  He and his wife and one of his three children live in Reno, Nevada.

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