The nation cannot achieve President Obama’s goal of the United States having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020 without strengthening and expanding educational opportunities for all Latino students, according to a new report from the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. The report, Winning the Future: Improving Education for the Latino Community, projects that Latinos will account for 60 percent of the nation’s population growth between 2005 and 2050.
According to the study, Latinos are by far the largest minority group in the U.S. public school system, comprising more than one-fifth of all pre-K–12 students. However, the report also finds that Latino students have the lowest educational attainment level of any group in the United States. Only about half of all Latino students earn their high school diploma on time and of the students who do complete high school, only half are as likely as their peers to be prepared for college. Only 13 percent of Latinos have a bachelor’s degree and only 4 percent have completed graduate or professional degree programs, according to the study. In addition, Latino students have fewer opportunities than their peers to take challenging curricular including advanced courses in mathematics and Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate courses.
“Hispanic students have graduated at lower rates than the rest of the population for years, making America’s progress impossible if they continue to lag behind,” said Juan Sepulveda, director of White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. “Strengthening and improving educational excellence in this community isn’t just a Hispanic problem. It’s a challenge to the entire country.”
Winning the Future finds that that the educational disadvantage starts at a young age for Latino children and they are less likely than any other group to enroll in any early learning program. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Obama administration has invested $5 billion in early learning programs including Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care and services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). According to the study, 36 percent of the children served by Head Start are Latino and 19 percent of the nation’s child care subsidy recipients are Latino.
The report highlights the federal Race to the Top Initiative, a competitive grant-based program designed to encourage states to implement systematic reforms.
“The 11 states and one district that have been selected as Race to the Top winners—Tennessee, Delaware, Rhode Island, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and the District of Columbia—reach approximately 22 percent of the Nation’s Latino student population,” the report notes. “Five of the 15 states with the largest Hispanic populations won, including Florida (3rd), New York (4th), Georgia (10th), North Carolina (11th) and Massachusetts (15th).”
To improve educational opportunities for all students and close achievement gaps, the report recommends higher standards for student learning, innovation that builds on what works in America’s classrooms, and effective teachers and school leaders. The study points out that although more than 22 percent of public school students are Latino nationwide, less than 7 percent of teachers are Latino. In addition, Latino males account for less than 2 percent of teachers nationwide. To that end, the White House launched the TEACH Campaign in September 2010 with the goal of increasing the number, quality, and diversity of teacher candidates.
To increase college graduation rates among Latinos, the report calls for strengthening Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI), which are public or private nonprofit colleges or universities with a study body that is at least 25 percent Latino. Although the 334 HSIs in the nation represent only 5 percent of all higher education institutions, they enrolled 51 percent of all Hispanics pursuing higher education degrees in America during the 2003–04 school year.
In late April, senior officials within the Obama administration met with dozens of educators and community leaders at Miami Dade College to release these report findings and to outline strategies to meet President Obama’s goal for the nation to have the best educated workforce in the world by 2020.
To read the full report visit http://1.usa.gov/iS9x1V.