President Obama wants the government to focus more on helping Hispanic students excel in education.
On Tuesday, he signed an executive order in support of that mission. The order establishes a presidential advisory commission that will make recommendations on everything from creating bilingual classes to making college more affordable.
Tuesday's event allowed the White House to showcase an issue important to the Hispanic community ahead of midterm elections that will determine whether Democrats maintain control of Congress. Hispanic leaders and educators were invited and were greeted by a mariachi band in the Grand Foyer outside the East Room.
In a ceremony in the East Room, Obama noted that Latinos make up the largest minority group in the country's public schools, accounting for more than 1 in 5 students, but are likelier to attend low-performing schools and drop out.
"This is not just a Latino problem. This is an American problem. We've got to solve it," the president said. "Because if we allow these trends to continue, it won't just be one community that falls behind. We will all fall behind together."
Hispanics put a higher premium on education than Americans overall do, according to an Associated Press-Univision Poll conducted earlier this year. Eighty-seven percent of Hispanics said a college education is extremely or very important, compared with 78 percent of the overall U.S. population.