One in five children under the age of eight comes from a Latino family, reports the Washington Post.
Latino children nationwide tend to start kindergarten knowing less about letters and numbers compared with their non-Hispanic white peers. Many never catch up. Improving early childhood education is one of the best ways to narrow the achievement gap, educators say, citing such programs as the family book club. But many Latino families face economic, linguistic, educational and even cultural barriers.”It’s partly about parents not understanding the American system,” said Eugene E. Garcia, an Arizona State University administrator and chairman of the National Task Force on Early Childhood Education for Hispanics. “Hispanic parents think school is good and education is good. They just don’t have the tools they need.”
About 40 percent of Latino 3- and 4-year-olds (and 5-year-olds not yet in kindergarten) are enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs, compared with about 60 percent of white and African American children, according to the District-based advocacy group Pre-K Now. In addition, a new report from Garcia’s task force noted that Hispanic mothers generally read and talk less to their children compared with white parents. Hispanic families also tend to have fewer children’s books at home.
Educators are trying to enroll more Hispanic children in quality preschools. They’re also working with immigrant mothers.
The amount of time parents spent reading and telling stories to their children and interacting with them mattered more, (Michael) Lopez said, than the education level or income of the adults.
In Arizona, a Latino policy group wants to bar school districts from issuing certificates or diplomas when students complete eighth grade for fear it sends a message that their education is complete. In Mexico, it probably would be.
The hope is to take aim at the state’s high dropout rate and communicate to families, especially immigrant families, that completing eighth grade is really not that big of a deal.
In a visit to a San Jose middle school with a large immigrant enrollment, I noticed that the principal had banned limos and formal wear at the eighth-grade graduation. He said many students assume it’s the last graduation ceremony they’ll attend. It’s not that students don’t know they’re expected to go on to high school; they just don’t believe they’re likely to earn a diploma.