Hispanics aspire to college, but few go

Nine in 10 Hispanic students say college is “necessary” to get ahead, but most don’t plan to go, reports the Pew Hispanic Center. Students cite many reasons for giving up on higher education.

. . .  74% of Hispanic students who drop out of high school or don’t finish college cite the need to support their family. Only 39% say they “don’t need more education.”

And for many Hispanic students, families are both inspirational and problematic: More than three-fourths say their parents believe going to college is “the most important thing for you to do right after high school,” but among Hispanics of all ages, 57% say a “major reason” that Hispanic students aren’t doing better is because parents don’t play an active role in their children’s education.

A third of Americans 18 to 24 years old are enrolled in college compared to one quarter of young Hispanics.

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  1. As it happens, I taught in a school last with about 1/3 Latina population. I did come to some conclusions:

    Contrary to current educational theory, in high school (and probably middle school), it’s a waste of time trying to teach many subjects, in English, to a student who is not English-capable, at least at a rudimentary level. While I’m trying to act out the concepts for the non-fluent, the rest of the class is not getting their education (primarily Black). If I teach at a level that the rest of the class is learning at, the Latinos are not learning.

    Things I didn’t have: Spanish-language translations of the text (there was a watered-down version, but I had to made copies of that. I did, and was warned about using the copier too much), language assistant, or access to information about previous schooling – some students may have been in their first school beyond primary.

    Too many of the Latinos were in the same classroom – they tended to sit together, and talk in Spanish. They resisted using English, even in class. They showed very little evidence of learning in math (I’m a physical science teacher, so math is critical) beyond the most basic.

    The Asians, even those from VERY improvished backgrounds, did better. They tackled assignments with a dictionary in hand, and doggedly tried to keep up. They may have fallen a bit behind, but they willingly did everything in their power to learn. And, despite very little help with language issues, they got better grades on tests.

    Latinos, in general, were satisfied with a grade, no matter how much or little they had learned. Cheating was rampant, copying was the norm. We were not permitted to fail a student whose failure was primarily due to language. However, that student’s failure would count against us in the End of Course test, and the school’s AYP report.

    I did not return to that school the next year. I barely survived the first year.

  2. BTW, I didn’t mention in my previous post that my students were primarily recent immigrants. The 1st generation Latinos, and those from families who were NOT “undocumented” managed fine, in general.

  3. Michael E. Lopez says:

    As someone who knows a little something about the Latino high-school/college experience…

    It’s more or less true that there is, on the family side, a lot of *talk* about college and a better life and all that, but very little practical support. I managed what I did in great part because I found myself a whole host of “surrogate” parents among my teachers and my (Anglo) friends’ parents.

    So when I read this survey, I’m struck by two thoughts:

    1) Yes, it’s sad how the deck is stacked against certain types of minority kids (on a purely contingently empirical basis, mind you… it just so happens that there isn’t a lot of college support in Latino communities; it’s not something inherent in the status of being Latino); and

    2) It’s embarrassing to see people with who I am identified explain what they think needs to be done, correctly identify the problems that stand in their way, and (statistically) fail to do anything about it.

  4. Parents don’t understand what it takes to get to college. They don’t understand the time required or the expense of college. They want their children to live at home and take care of housekeeping duties. This is especially true for daughters.


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