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Biden speaks while meeting with Latino community leaders in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. Photo: Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Image

President Biden is creating a new initiative on Hispanic education as the percentage of Latino students in U.S. public schools continues to grow.

The big picture: Latinos make up around 27% of all public school students and about 20% of college students. They are expected to be the majority of U.S. residents by midcentury but now lag behind in graduation rates and student achievement.

Driving the news: Biden signed an executive order Monday creating a White House initiative, "Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics," which will be housed within the U.S. Department of Education.

  • This will focus on breaking down barriers and systemic challenges facing Hispanic students from early childhood through college, the White House told Axios.
  • Obama administration official and former journalist Melody Gonzales, of San Diego, will lead the effort and collect data on the state of Latino education as schools re-open from the pandemic.

Of note: The order also creates the new Presidential Advisory Commission on Advancing Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics, which will be made up of business, education, and community leaders.

  • The commission will offer recommendations to the president and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

By the numbers: Latinos have a national adjusted cohort high school graduation rate of 82% during the 2018–19 school year, the last available numbers, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

  • That rate was below the overall national average by four percentage points and seven percentage points behind whites.
  • About two-in-ten Hispanic children (21%) were living in poverty in 2019, the Pew Research Center reported last year. That's higher than the national average of 14% of all children.

Don't forget: New Mexico, the state with the largest percentage of Hispanic residents in the country, is locked in a legal battle called the Yazzie/Martinez lawsuit.

  • The lawsuit alleges that New Mexico has failed to provide a sufficient and uniform system of education to all New Mexican children as guaranteed by the state constitution.
  • New Mexico has regularly ranked as 49th or 50th annually in education.

Go deeper

Best schools in Illinois

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Chicago scored big with both high schools and grade schools in this year's rankings of the top 10 schools in the state, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Why it matters: The Chicago Public School system is often maligned for its failures but also runs the best schools in the state.

RNC woos Texas Latinos

A pro-Trump protester in Austin, Texas, after Joe Biden's victory. Photo: Sergio Flores/AFP via Getty Images

The Republican National Committee is working to court more conservative Hispanic voters in south Texas, even as the state's GOP majority uses redistricting to blunt demographic changes that should be empowering Hispanic representation and helping Democrats.

Driving the news: The RNC is opening a Hispanic community center in San Antonio on Monday. It's the third such outreach center the party has opened in south Texas this year.

Oct 18, 2021 - Podcasts

Biden, Manchin and climate change

There was lots of news over the weekend about West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s opposition to a crucial piece of President Biden's proposed climate agenda. That piece would encourage wind, solar, and other zero carbon sources of clean electricity. Axios' Ben Geman has a reality check.

  • Plus, how the U.S. Secretary of Education says he's tackling crises in our public schools.
  • And, the history of American newspapers promoting lynching.

Guests: Axios' Ben Geman and Jonathan Swan; DeNeen Brown, associate professor at the University of Maryland and Washington Post reporter.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Dan Bobkoff, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Sabeena Singhani, Alex Sugiura, Lydia McMullen-Laird, Michael Hanf, and David Toledo. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at podcasts@axios.com. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

Go deeper: