Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hispanic High School Grads Are On the Rise

By Guestblogger Rena Mathena

The West Interstate Commission for Higher Education has just released its 7th edition of their report,
Knocking at the College Door: Projections of High School Graduates by State and Race/Ethnicity, 1992-2022, which has some shocking and exciting numbers for the Hispanic high school population across the country.

Out of all high school students, Latinos are the ones who will see the largest increase in their graduation rate from 2004-2005 to 2021-2022. In states where there is a large Latino population, like Arizona, Colorado, and Florida, the increase is an exciting surprise, since all three states are looking at more than a 60% jump, with Arizona expecting a 102.6% swell in graduates. The increase of Hispanic graduates is going to be an excellent contributor to the overall increase of the national graduation rate.

Even in states with smaller Latino populations, like Tennessee, Nevada, and Utah, the projected growth of Hispanic high school students and graduates will give their parents a powerful influence in the education systems of their state. With more Latino students and parents becoming part of the school system, their voice for change and choice will be louder and could help bring about more educational reforms in states where that had never been a big possibility.

Some of the most impressive expected growths, like Nevada’s 228.7% increase of Hispanic graduates and Tennessee’s +400% projected increase, will be a big bright sign to state educators and officials. Parents are going to be looking at their schools and wanting the best choices to assure their children will be a part of this rising achievement trend.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Language Debate Across the States

In Florida, some educators and individuals are calling for better instruction in Spanish and more efforts to ensure that bilingual children are also biliterate...whereas in Arizona, the battle is still raging over the state's new English fluency requirements and their potentially punitive effects on students.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Even for Citizens, In-State Status is Hard to Attain

The Washington Post has an article today about how some Latino students - U.S. citizens - have been denied in-state tuition at public universities because of the immigration status of their parents. A number of universities have ruled that if their parents are illegal immigrants, these children can be denied in-state tuition, because they are "technically" dependent on the status of their parents.

This seems like a clear violation of citizens' rights to me, but take a look for yourself...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Homeschooling Parents Victorious in California

The California Department of Education will continue to allow parents without official teaching credentials to homeschool their children, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The decision signifies a major victory on the part of homeschooling parents, who came under fire in February when a California court ruled to require parents who homeschool their children to have teacher certification. Despite this decision - which has been decried by many of the state's politicians - the state Department of Education will maintain their current policy on home schooling - effectively ignoring the ruling.

The Dept. of Education's decision to maintain their original policies ensures that home schooling continues to exist as a vital educational option for California's children. Although on the whole, only a small percentage of Hispanic students are homeschooled, a movement is growing to attract more minority students to this type of education.

Bonus: An op-ed from the San Francisco Chronicle commenting on this issue.

Monday, March 10, 2008

UCLA's New Major Combines Spanish, Community Service

Undergraduates at UCLA can now combine their work in Spanish literature with community service under a new major entitled, "Spanish and community and culture," which was instituted by the university this week. The program allows students to merge their love for Cervantes and Gabriel García Márquez with social justice internships, ensuring both a strong academic education and significant practical experience.

Kudos to UCLA for encouraging social involvement amongst its students. I will be interested to see if the majority of students who participate in this program are Latino themselves, or if other minorities and White students also sign up for the new major.

Will also be interesting to see if Black Studies departments and Women's Studies departments take on this idea for themselves.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Spanish-Speaking Parents: Are You Keeping Up with Your Kids?

By Guestblogger Rena Mathena

After reading these two recent articles, from the Denver Post and the Star-Ledger, I was wondering what connections could be made between the two.

The first discusses the Denver Public School System’s increasing percentage of gifted minority students participating in the “highly gifted and talented” programs. According to the article, schools are trying to include the 76% Latino and Black student population in their special programs regardless of their first language or how many free lunches they receive. This translates to mini-Affirmative Action technique to help those students who may not be scoring as high as white students to also benefit from the special program. Although the figures are increasing, the overall percentage of “gifted” students who are ethnic minorities is only 25%.

The second article from New Jersey’s Star-Ledger described the struggles of the large Hispanic population's struggle to have civil resources printed in Spanish. Spanish-speaking New Jersey residents are in need to bilingual bus schedules, instructions for registering their children for school, etc. If this information is provided in Spanish, the 900,000 people speaking Spanish in New Jersey would be able to take advantage of resources that were previously unknown to them and they would also be able to understand state regulations that were previously posted only in English.

Examining these two articles through a parent-student perspective is easy. If more resources are printed in English and Spanish - as the Hispanic community in New Jersey recommends - more Hispanic parents would be able to understand school notices and the options their children have of participating in special programs, such as gifted and talented programs. With increased parental involvement and support for their children’s participation, the percentage of Hispanic students in gifted and talented programs at schools would increase, giving more students a chance to learn at their greatest potential.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the more parents are involved in their children’s schooling, the better opportunities students will have to learn at their best.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Goldwater Institute Releases Study of Arizona's Choice Programs

Today Matthew Ladner of the Goldwater Institute released a study entitled "School Choice in Arizona: A Review of Existing Programs and a Road Map for Future Reforms."

The school choice programs in Arizona serve a considerable number of Latino children, so his findings will be of particular relevance to the Hispanic community.

Young Latino Voters Charge Polls and I Philosophize

This is good news for the Latino community. The more voters, the better, and having politically engaged young people will be key to the future well-being of Hispanics in the U.S.

But simply having voters is not enough. It is essential to have educated voters - voters who can think for themselves, reason for themselves, and independently decide how they should vote. This is where our country's educational system steps in, as it was founded to ensure that every child in America would have the skills necessary to be this sort of educated voter and participate in the democratic system. Although today, we often consider education an end in itself, in truth, it is the means to an end - that end being a functional democracy.

So, when 47% of Latino children are dropping out of high school before graduation, we can ask, is our school system accomplishing its ultimate goal? Is it creating young adults who have the literacy and critical thinking skills necessary to be productive citizens? Is it creating young adults who are educated voters?

The answer: a resounding no.