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June 18, 2004

Ortiz Declares 'Graduation for All: A Right and Responsibility'

Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz (D-51st) President-elect of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators joined in a nationwide effort to recognize those Hispanic students who will step up to the podium to receive their diplomas this spring, while also calling attention to the astonishing number of Hispanic students who will not.

Ortiz joined other elected officials and representatives of the United Federation of Teachers, New York State United Teachers, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Congressional Hispanic Caucus and others in a press conference today in front of Norman Thomas High School in Manhattan to discuss the reasons for the graduation gap between Hispanics and non-Hispanics in New York.

"I am here today to applaud the hard work and determination of each and every student who walks across the graduation stage this spring to receive their well-deserved diploma. I am also here to call attention to the fact that the number of children who will not make the trip this spring is still too high especially in the Hispanic community," stated Ortiz.

The national graduation rate for the class of 2001 was 70 percent while only 51 percent of African-American students and 52 percent of Hispanic students received a high school diploma. In New York these numbers drop even lower with a mere 42 percent of Hispanic students and 47 percent of African-American students receiving high school diplomas.

"We as parents and leaders must take responsibility for the education of our children and instill in them the thirst for knowledge necessary to reach their goals. These young men and women are the future of this country. We must provide the tools necessary for them to grasp and secure a bright and prosperous future," continued Ortiz.

"Graduation for All: A Right & Responsibility" is a coordinated effort by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL), the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) and the USHCC Foundation, calling attention to Hispanic students who have disappeared from school roll calls across the nation.