To the editors:

Re: Clemente High School [Hot Type, October 7].

For how long will agencies who claim to be on the people’s corner continue to keep the truth from them?

The hardships of newcomers to the U.S. are universal to all races. To deny this fact is absurd; all said and done, family background is no scapegoat for the inability of an educational system’s failure. Arriving from Puerto Rico (Vieques Is.) at the age of eleven was the best thing that ever happened to me.

One 6th grade teacher stands forever in my thoughts; God Bless Her. She put it to me very simple: “Either learn English or go back to Puerto Rico.” My anger went to work for me. I proved to her before school was out that I was worthy of living here in this country.

Her honesty gave me the strength to fight, strive, and stand on my own.

While at Coyne Electrical, a Spanish student pointed out that we should stick together because we are Spanish. I looked him straight in the eye and told him: “This is not a social event, I will stick with someone who knows more than I do.”

When Queen Elizabeth (Isabel) and King Ferdinand gave Columbus finances for his venture, they never discussed his ancestry, just the principles.

I say to the people to stand tall and be proud of their country, but don’t allow the truth to be a barrier–we all have Imperfections, it’s part of the human adventure. Excel at what YOU do–dare to stand alone–be exemplary to those around you.

Today, through hard work and sacrifice, my daughter attends DePaul with three academic scholarships–my son is in honors at Gordon Tech–my four-year-old says his ABCs while singing in the bathroom. None of my kids speak Spanish. In fact they understand Polish better than Spanish. I’m proud of my Latin background, but it’s never put bread and butter on the table.

Culture should be taught at home. We have too much variety to accommodate “all” the immigrants.

Those goody two shoe agencies should clamp down on the educational system to motivate all individuals, no matter what the background. Ask for more teachers who care, don’t ship them out. Give our children strength through education, and, as we all know; “. . . it’s hard work.”

Ben Mercado

N. Drake