Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Latino children education in crisis in the United States

by Waldirene Biernath

The United States President Barack Obama said last year that Hispanic school children faced "challenges of monumental proportions". Hispanics make up the fastest growing segment of the American population, but are lagging when it comes to education. The consequences are huge not just for individual families, but the entire American economy.

Less than 50% of Latino children are enrolled in pre-school; just 50% earn their high school diploma on time and, those who do are only half as likely as their peers to be prepared for college. Just 13% have a degree.

Hispanics make up 16% of the American population now and will account for 29% of the population by 2050. The issue has essentially reached a tipping point. It's harder to ignore the problems facing a minority group when they affect a third of the population. There are economic reasons to care.

In 50 years the majority of workforces will be Hispanic in the United States. Imagine if they are uneducated, what hope there is for American global competitiveness.

Source photos: Google Image
“If we allow these trends to continue, it won't just be one community that falls behind - we will all fall behind together”, said US President Barack Obama.

Many of the problems facing Hispanics affect all minority groups - for example the difficulty of accessing high-quality schooling. But there are problems unique to this group. Consider the language barrier - four million Latino children struggle in class because they are still learning English, even though three quarters of them were born in the United States.

Undocumented children and the US-born children of undocumented parents can be at a disadvantage because their parents may be reluctant to access the full range of support services available for their children.

According to the Census bureau, 50% of immigrants are from Latin America.

President Obama tried and failed in 2010 to pass the Dream Act - a law that would give undocumented Latino students, brought to the US as children, the right to US citizenship so they can attend University.

There is much debate among politicians and policy makers about whether Hispanic children should get special attention or whether they should be treated like any other low income group in terms of educational inequity.

Whichever way that particular debate shakes out one thing is for certain - the political power of Hispanics is rising. Politicians cannot afford to ignore these challenges much longer.

Obama appoints the latino singer Shakira to Hispanic education commission

Colombian singer Shakira has been appointed to US President Barack Obama's education committee to share her advice on how to provide the best education for Hispanics living in America.

"There is no better investment than investment in our kids, especially when they are very little," she said. "The Obama administration has made a point to improve Latino education and – as I spoke to the President previously – I am extremely passionate about working with the White House to plan an early childhood education summit in the coming year...”

"I am convinced that early childhood development strategies, promoting those strategies and initiatives, is the way to ensure that our kids, our Latino kids especially, will stick to their secondary education," the 34-year-old superstar said.

What do you think about Obama’s indication to Hispanic education commission? Do you think Shakira was a good choice?

See the Shakira’ s discourse at the White House video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1Ffp0U6_9M&feature=related ;

Lagging (verb to lag): to not be as successful or advanced as another person, organization, or group; to walk more slowly than someone who you are with;
Tipping point: a time when important things start happening in a situation, especially things that you cannot change;
Struggle (verb): to try hard to do something that you find very difficult.


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