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Feds eliminating Hispanic/Latino race

New changes to the federal student census have drawn the concern of elected officials like State Senator Jose Peralta.
The U.S. Department of Education recently unveiled a plan to eliminate Hispanic/Latino as a race category. Under the new rules, Hispanic/Latino is defined as an ethnicity rather than a race, similarly to the 2010 U.S. Census.
“Senator Peralta sent a letter to Chancellor Joel Klein in order to request more information about the reasons underlying change and its repercussions on the apportionment of federal funds to schools,” said Frank Sobrino, a Peralta spokesperson.
When filling out the survey, the student will be first asked to choose whether or not he or she is Hispanic/Latino. The question is followed by an explanation that Hispanic/Latino is considered an individual with roots in Mexico, the Caribbean, Central or South America.
Then, the student is asked to choose his or her race between: White, African American, Native American, Pacific Islander or Asian. The student is allowed to choose more than one.
The elimination of Hispanic/Latino as a race, Sobrino said, concerned Peralta because it is uncertain how the new way to collect the census data will affect the federal funding of schools. Peralta represents the neighborhoods of Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Woodside, a district with large Hispanic student population.
Sobrino said that considering the fact that Latinos are a very diverse minority, it is reasonable to wonder if a Latino student who indicates that he or she is Hispanic, but selects White as race, will still be considered a minority. He said the new rules could result in a major fluctuation of the minority numbers in the district and could affect the district’s apportioned federal funds.
“We understand the definitions,” Sobrino said. “What we want to know is why, why now, and is the change going to affect the flow of money that we need for the education of our children.”

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