Hispanic Outlook from its very inception has worked to open college doors for Hispanics. There has been considerable progress but the battle is far from won. As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage achievements, let’s explore this in more depth.
Latinos and Higher Education
Many Hispanic males are not going to college and if they do, they have a very high dropout rate. The Center for Latino Policy Research in northern California is studying Bay Area Latino Males in Higher Education. In a word, their participation is anemic as it is nationwide.
The record is painfully clear; Latino men lag behind the general population, even behind Latinas. As noted fewer males go to college, and of the few who do, many drop out only to carry the burden of yet another presumed failure. Many become alienated, anti-social and wind up in jail.
Why aren’t Latino men succeeding in post-secondary education?
First, few go. The reasons are varied and complex. Among them are their family’s financial necessities, sub-par schooling experiences, street gang influence, community support or lack thereof and prevailing educational policies which still in some regions marginalize them.
Whatever the reasons may be, it is a growing societal problem. Many youngsters find escape by joining the armed services where they can be placed in harm’s way.
The Bay Area program wants to reduce the overrepresentation of Latino males in prison and increase their presence at post-secondary institutions.
There is work to be done. If matters continue on the same trajectory the future for thousands will be dim. As of now, statistics indicate that one in six Latino males born in 2013 will spend time in the prison system compared to one in 17 Caucasian males.
In terms of academic achievement, recent data notes only nine percent of Latino males over the age of 18 have obtained a bachelor’s degree. That compares to 21 percent for Caucasian males.
There are long-term ramifications -- many Latino males are disproportionately concentrated in low-wage jobs. All of this together with the rising populations of Latino males in California portends serious implications for the future of that state.
Salaries - a vivid indicator
Let’s follow the money. The median salary for Caucasian males is $40,060 compared to $25,715 for Latino males. Educational attainment is the key component in that scenario. The lack thereof impacts the lives of Latino males on many levels including self-esteem and their ability to provide for their families.
What about Latinas?
Latinas are doing much better. In the 18-24 age cohort, a full 60 percent of all bachelor’s degrees earned by all Hispanics were earned by females. Theirs is a creditable showing and one that continues to grow.
Why does this difference exist? Is one group more highly motivated than another? How can their realities be improved so that both Hispanic men and women achieve greater academic successes?
Those and other questions are being tackled by the CLPR's Bay Area Latino Males in Higher Education Initiative. They are convening Bay Area scholars and members of the broader community in a new working group to develop local research agendas (Berkeley, East Bay, California); generate dialogue on related issues and experiences across the higher education pipeline, and to organize a speaker series and work-shops.
It is anticipated the research will (1) highlight both historical and current social and economic issues facing Latino males, (2) examine possible mechanisms of support for Latino males in higher education and (3) make policy recommendations that can create equitable educational conditions. The group is also plans to generate internal and external funding opportunities.
Currently some of the issues being examined include:
- Strategies for entering and successfully completing a postsecondary education
- Existing and developing labor markets
- Latino males and the prison system
- Health and well-being as they affect Latinos
- Intersections of race, class, sexuality and gender and their effect therein
- Established systems of privilege
Sounds familiar, but each generation has to start from scratch. For more information contact Omar Dávila: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quality of Education
Hispanics, as a group, have to be careful when they pursue higher education. In the past, I have warned low-income Hispanics to be wary of some (not all) for-profit institutions. Some do provide good education, but many buttressed by federal grants and loans have been very shoddy and suspect. Some concentrate their high-pressure tactics on low income students and veterans armed with lucrative education benefits. Many Hispanic men and women fall in one of those two categories and have been misled.
The federal government, after ignoring complaints for years, has finally begun to monitor those institutions. In the summer of 2014, enhanced scrutiny by the Department of Education of Corinthian Colleges uncovered so many irregularities that the company agreed to sell a majority of its campuses. But they could not find a buyer and subsequently announced they would cease operations and close the remaining 28 campuses. That affected over 16,000 students. The company’s situation worsened and became so dire that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Meanwhile thousands of students lost their time and money. Caveat Emptor!
Gloom and Doom
I fear this column might seem unduly negative. I hope not. I did begin with the sad reality that too many Hispanic males are not going to college. It is an issue but it can be addressed student by student, college by college. I am sure most readers of Hispanic Outlook are aware of the situation and many are addressing it as best they can on their campuses. It will take institutional commitment to change.
The Bottom Line
More must be done to have more male and female Hispanics graduate from college. It begins in the home, yet I know some Hispanic homes can barely keep a roof over their children heads. So the rest of us have to help, one family at a time.
United communities can motivate youngsters to go to college. Many have and it has worked for generations on end. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Successful programs exist in every state. Emulate them!