May 31, 2002

Latinos Not Keeping Up with Social and Technological Change in the U.S.

A report recently released by the Hispanic Border Leadership Institute (HBLI) at Arizona State University finds that the education Latino students receive isn’t helping them keep pace with the rapid social and technological changes taking place in the United States.

The report, A Compromised Commitment: Society’s Obligation and Failure to Serve the Nation’s Largest Growing Population, edited by Dr. Leonard Valverde, Professor of Education at Arizona State University and Executive Director of the HBLI, cites a dramatic achievement gap between Latino and White students in the United States. This gap is reflected in widely divergent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores between the two groups, high dropout rates among Latinos in high school, underrepresentation of Latinos in American four-year colleges and research universities, and the small percentage (less than ten percent) of Latinos who achieve advanced degrees.

The state of education for Latinos is worst in the Southwest, according to the report. The high concentration of Latinos in the Southwest has contributed to the widely held belief among non-Latino Americans that the educational inequities faced by Latinos are primarily Southwestern concerns. In fact, however, the Latino population is growing throughout the nation, especially among school-aged children.

A Compromised Commitment proposes that the educational inequities faced by the Latino community in the United States affect the quality of national education in general, and thus need to be treated as a priority by all Americans working at the local, state, and federal level. The report makes the following recommendations:

* Regard Latinos as capable and competitive contributors.

* Implement pedagogies centered on Latinos, their culture, and experiences.

* Replicate successful programs.

* Find new and increased resources to effectively address much-needed innovation and to be integrated on a permanent basis into the educational state budget.

* Focus on pivotal transition stages in education such as:

- preschool to kindergarten.

- elementary to middle school.

- high school to college.

The Education Policy Research Unit (EPRU) conducts original research, provides independent analyses of research and policy documents, and facilitates educational innovation. EPRU facilitates the work of leading academic experts in a variety of disciplines to help inform the public debate about education policy issues. Visit the EPRU website at http://www.educationanalysis.org

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