By Percy Luján
NEW YORK CITY — First Lady Michelle Obama, featured speaker at the League of United Latin American Citizens convention, which concluded here this past week, didn’t venture into the national debate about the 50,000-plus Central American children clogging the U.S.-Mexico border. She left that contentious politicized subject up to husband Barack.
Instead, addressing 1,200 LULAC members at a unity luncheon here, she chose to talk about education and Latino youth. After commending LULAC for its consistent civil rights advocacy on Latino and black education issues, she shifted, “While all of you are proud of what you did, you are by no means satisfied.”
A U.S. Department of Education study released in April showed the high school graduation rate for Hispanic students nationwide was 73 percent, 13 points lower than for white students in the school year ending in 2012. For African-American students it was 69 percent.
For English-language learners, the rate plummeted to 59 percent.
Recounting the storied commitment of past LULAC president Félix Tijerina, who consistently tapped his personal resources to create school programs that enhanced the education of Latino children, Michelle Obama challenged, “We need to lift up the next generation ourselves. Be a role model for those around you…Education is the only way to achieve social mobility.”
She congratulated undocumented student Emma Chalott, who is enrolled to attend Austin College in Texas this fall. “For Emma, living the American Dream is not a question. It is an expectation.”
The First Lady finished her presentation with an extra word of White House support. “I want you to know that I believe in you; your president believes in you.”
She was introduced by actress Jennifer López, who was promoting “Los Jets,” a new reality show she produced for NUVO TV about a small-town high school’s soccer team made up of mostly Latino boys.
Editor’s note: This story was previously published by Hispanic Link News Service. Reproduced under their guidelines.