[lg policy] Texas: Latinos face economic, educational inequities

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jul 31 14:25:41 UTC 2009

Latinos face economic, educational inequities
Bobby Longoria

Daily Texan Staff

Updated: Thursday, July 30, 2009

In a lecture at Austin Community College on Wednesday, a California
civil rights researcher argued that Latinos are facing economic and
educational disparities. Patricia Gándara, co-director of the Civil
Rights Project at the University of California-Los Angeles, conducts
research focusing on educational equity and access for low-income and
ethnic minority students, language policy and the education of Latino
youth. Based on her research, Gándara, who is also a professor of
education at UCLA, says she has found there is a stagnation of
progress for Latinos in higher education. “This has noticeable
implications to Texas,” Gándara said. “It has noticeable implications
for the United States generally.”

According to research she gathered from the National Center for Higher
Education and Public Policy, 48 percent of the Latino workforce has
less than a high school diploma, whereas the rate for the white
population is 9 percent. This will result in a 5 percent decline in
per capita income for the entire Texas population between 2000 and
2020, Gándara said. The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda’s 2008
Hispanic Policy Agenda report states that Hispanics have the lowest
graduation rate as well as the highest dropout rate of any minority

Chris Alvarado, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board director of
outreach, said dropout rates and higher education participation are
the two biggest issues concerning the education of Latinos. Alvarado
said this is a result of educational policy that fails to spread
awareness among a culture that is typically not college-bound. “If a
student attempts to go to college and doesn’t find the support system
there, they feel out of place,” Alvarado said. “That information is
then the information that is shared. So it becomes a negative piece
that, ‘College isn’t for us. I couldn’t do it, so it isn’t for us,’
instead of recognizing the accomplishments of the students that do
make it.”

Alvarado said students need to know certain policies exist and they
are given the same chances to participate. He also said the board has
been working on legislation that promotes a public awareness campaign,
financial aid assistance and a mentor program. The report stated that
Hispanics have the lowest college matriculation and college graduation
rates of any major population group. Among those 25 years old and
older, only 13.4 percent of Latinos have bachelor’s degrees, compared
to 30.6 percent of non-Latino whites.

According to the report, during the 2004-2005 academic year, the
average amount of financial aid Hispanic full-time undergraduate
students received was $4,622 whereas, white students received $4,837
and African-American students received $4,908, on average.

Julian Vasquez Heilig, assistant UT education professor, is the
co-director of The University of Texas Center for Collaborative
Educational Research and Policy. The policy group has found in recent
years that the Latino population in Texas is almost 36 percent of the
state population and that representation of Latinos relative to the
state population has doubled.

“The disparity between representation at UT and the larger population
is more than 20 percent,” Vasquez Heilig said. “You would think
Latinos would be better represented in today’s University, but they
are actually less represented.”

He said this may be due to the increasing number of exit exams such as
the TAKS test, in which only 30 percent of Latino students passed two
of the four topics. Among English language learners only 17 percent
passed two of the four topics.

A precursor to students failing may be the distribution of “emergency
teachers,” which are quickly certified, but have no experience in
classrooms, he said.

“If you go to wealthy suburban high schools, you will not see large
numbers of emergency certified teachers,” Vasquez Heilig said. “If you
go to urban schools where Latinos and African-Americans are attending,
you will see large numbers of emergency certified teachers. They are
unfairly distributed, yet we expect the same output. We expect the
same test scores and attendance rate.”

Gándara said educational disparities may be attributed to living conditions.

“We have created a situation here in which the context in which these
young children are growing up is a third-world country,” Gándara said.
“There children are growing up in poverty, they have no health
insurance and are incredibly segregated.”

She said Texas ranks 42 in the nation with respect to investment in
K-12 education — among some of the poorest states in the nation — yet
Texas itself is not poor.

She said closing the gaps in college attendance is a systemic problem
that can not be solved with a 10 percent solution.

“In other words, take the last 10 percent of their education and put a
Band-Aid on it and hope that you are going to change the trajectory of
kids’ lives,” Gándara said. “It’s not going to happen. Latino students
require more investment.”


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