Education is the Latino Issue, not Immigration

Courtney Williams's picture
Monday, May 21, 2012

In this election season, both Republicans and Democrats continue to reach out to Latinos by focusing on immigration, the supposed priority issue for Latino voters. Candidates translate their key messages into Spanish, thinking that we like to hear our native language when we communicate with politicians.

Conventional wisdom holds that the party that can deliver immigration reform and communicate with the Latino community on their terms will secure their votes in the upcoming election. Several recent reports and polls are challenging these classic clichés about Latinos.

It is clear that immigration is not the first priority for Latino voters, as it is not for Irish Americans, Italian Americans or other population groups. We care about the economy, employment, finding jobs for our family members and of course education of our children. This fact has been confirmed once again in a survey released by the American Federation for Children (AFC) and the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options (HCREO). Results from the survey of likely voters in five key battleground states reveal that education is a top-tier issue for Latino voters. Latinos ranked K-12 education as the second most important issue facing our country. While their responses were similar to the opinions of all voters, they favor improving education over reducing the budget deficit and place it second only to creating new jobs and improving the economy. 58 percent of Latinos agreed that, “We need to hear more from the presidential candidates on how they will improve education.”

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