Educational opportunity for every resident of the United States is one of the cornerstones of our society. Nearly thirty years ago, the Supreme Court acknowledged as such by securing access to primary and secondary education to all U.S. residents regardless of their immigration status.
In Plyer v. Doe, the Supreme Court ruled that undocumented children had the right to attend free public primary and secondary schools. Ironically, these same students are not afforded the same educational privileges beyond high school. And so goes the fight for the Dream Act.
This issue is playing out all over the United States. Not only in states like Arizona or Georgia – but in the small Midwestern towns of Nebraska.
A new documentary, When the Counting Stops, profiles 6 Latino high school students pursuing their American dream in Crete, Nebraska. The trailer is posted below.
When one gets beyond the political rhetoric and noise, we see how advocating for the educational and professional goals of these young dreamers can only improve our country.
First-generation college students (like muah) face many challenges. Since first-generation students have parents who did not attend college, or high school in some instances, they are far less knowledgeable about the “ins and outs” of college: preparedness, financial aid, acclimation, etc. Because of these challenges, many first-generation college students are at a higher risk of not completing their degree or they choose to attend school while working full-time.
I came across a great organization today, Downtown College Prep (DCP), located in San Jose, California. An extraordinary organization that assists first-generation college students by assuring they are ready for college. Their website is filled with best practice information as well as practical illustrations of the great work they do.
Oganizations such as DCP help first-generation students both before and during college. This in itself goes a long way in mitigating the differences between first-generation and non-first generation college students.
DCP provides a great model for any academic institution aiming to increase their recruitment and retainment of Latino first-generation college students.
First-generation college student, Miguel Corona, doctorate hooding in 2009.
Claudio Sanchez of NPR hosts a stunning five part series on America’s dropout crisis. Latinos have the highest dropout rate in the United States (47%) followed by African-Americans (43%), Whites, and Asian-Americans. The series examines not only the long-term career consequences of dropping out but the economic losses associated with not educating our communities of color. Worth a watch when you have some time. Overview is below.
Jean Rockford Aguilar-Valdez at NewsTaco makes the case regarding the need for more Latinos in STEM careers. I agree with his recommendation, too:
When 1 in 5 of the children in our schools is Latino, what justification is there for saying that STEM is only for the white, male, and middle- or upper-class? The demographics of the U.S. are changing, and with it we are faced with two options:
1.) Leave STEM to the disproportionally represented white population (and the associated stereotype that only white nerdy boys go into that field) and thus allow the STEM shortage to continue without Latinos enjoying the career-related benefits.
2.) Claim STEM as our own, as a field that can benefit from the strength of our numbers, perspectives, connections, and understandings; bringing to the Latino community all the economic, social, and intellectual power that the field of STEM affords to modern society.
Like many Latinos, I was a non-traditional college student. I didn’t set foot on a 4 year college campus until I was 23 years old. Up until then, I worked full-time as a shipping and receiving clerk for a small pool equipment company. My post-high school academic career consisted of dropping in and out of almost every school in the L.A. Community College system.
Attempting to work full-time and attend school was a disaster; however, making the decision to stop working didn’t make economic sense. It’s a dilemma that many Latino students face – is the return on investment worth the cost? In other words, is college worth it?
It’s a debate that’s been discussed more in the last few years, especially since our economic troubles. A good debate has been on-going via Economix. John Schmitt aptly writes about it here and here. In discussing why the benefits of college might not be apparent to some, especially men, John writes:
Almost by definition, increasing college completion involves getting students that in the past would not have attended college or who would have attended, but not completed college, to do so. To understand why college completion has not risen as fast as economic models might predict, we need to focus on the students who might, if conditions were slightly different, attend college. These students are wavering between going to a four-year college, attending community college, or entering the labor force immediately. They are on the fence for a variety of reasons. Maybe they did not have the highest grades in high school. Maybe they have work or family responsibilities. Maybe they feel that they cannot afford college.
All of these factors characterized my situation – and probably many Latinos today. I made the difficult decision to stop working and attend school full-time. A combination of Pell Grants and student loans were just enough to get me through my bachelor’s degree - just barely. It was satisfying to obtain my undergraduate degree, but the experience was emotionally and physically exhausting. Obviously, a learning environment that one would not consider optimal! Read more…
LATISM was represented last week at the Hispanic Policy Conference in Washington D.C. Here’s a great overview by LATISM Director Elianne Ramos. With 150 Latino leaders from a variety of backgrounds and settings, the meet up at the White House was genuinely momentous.
Having been involved in these types of meetings for years (as I know many of you have), one always walks away with a sense of mission and purpose only to see that same enthusiasm fade away after time. My assumption is that those in attendance were empowered to hold these officials accountable. How? Access. Transparency. A Voice.
When it comes to the vast array of Latino issues – we must not be antagonistic – but we must demonstrate resolve from those who wish to partner with our community.
There’s no way – no way – I would’ve made it through my undergraduate and graduate programs without the help of Pell grants. Economically, it would’ve meant attending college in an “on-ramp/off-ramp” environment. So when Pell grant funding seems to be coming under the axe in the ridiculous deficit reduction talks, I worry for the thousands of Latino college students who are in the same boat I was in 20 years ago.
Immigration is an economic nexus that provides organizations with talent in key industries. Aside from intellectual muscle, immigration also instills cultural and artistic life into our country. Countless studies, reports, and think tanks forewarn a workforce shortage if we don’t fix our immigration system. Yet, many still don’t see it this way. A recent Gallup poll measures American attitudes toward immigration and categorizes these attitudes by age and educational level. Note anything interesting?
The College Board Advocacy & Policy Center has a sobering look at the educational experiences young men of color. It’s an intimate look at the experiences of minority students including the pressures and stress associated with being “different” in a variety of settings. These experiences obviously do not end once Latinos and other minorities enter the workforce.
Many of the stories resonate with me, especially losing interest in friends that chose a much different, and sometimes unfortunate, path in life.
CNN-Money shares a simple but telling graphic regarding the increase cost of a college education and median income. According to the article “…if incomes had kept up with surging college costs, the typical American would be earning $77,000 a year. But in reality, it’s nowhere near that.”
This is particularly disheartening for low-income students – they’re literally getting priced out of college. I understand the rising costs are caused by numerous factors including budget cuts, infrastructure, salaries, etc. However, for whatever the reasons, the fewer people have access to higher education the more our workforce will suffer.