SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today honored Latino Heritage Month with a celebration at the California Department of Education (CDE) headquarters building.
Torlakson recognized the many contributions of Latinos to California's economy, society, government, entertainment, business, culture, and public education system and stated he is “Latino de Corazon”—Latino at heart. California has nearly 15 million Latinos in the state population.
Of the more than 6.2 million students in California public schools, 53 percent are Latinos and 1.4 million are English Learners.
“This is a terrific day to recognize the outstanding accomplishments that Latinos have achieved, and continue to achieve, throughout every part of California life. Latinos have added so much to the rich cultural diversity that makes California such a great and dynamic place to live,” Torlakson said.
According to the 2014 U.S. Census, there are 55.3 million Latinos in the United States. More than 65 percent of the foreign born are of Mexican descent. Today marks Independence Day for Mexico.
In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the “National Hispanic Heritage Week,” beginning September 15, to coincide with the independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
U.S. Rep. Esteban Torres of California submitted a bill in 1987 to expand the celebration to a full month. For more information, visit National Hispanic Heritage Month.
The California Department of Education encourages students to learn about the world around them and to learn other languages. It recognizes high school graduates who have demonstrated proficiency in another language by giving them a Seal of Biliteracy on their diplomas.
California was the first state in the nation to give out this award and will be honored on September 23 by the U.S. Department of Education for this groundbreaking program.