Latino college completion rates lagging

Student taking a testIt’s no secret that the growing Latino population in America will have large implications for the U.S. educational landscape over the next generation. By 2020, Latinos are projected to account for 25 percent of the nation’s population aged 18-29.

Government officials, policymakers and teachers alike face the challenge of improving the services and support provided to Latino students, particularly when it comes to increasing college completion rates.

As of 2011, 21 percent of Latinos had an associate degree or higher, compared to 57 percent of Asians, 44 percent of whites and 30 percent of blacks.

“It is pretty clear in the data that our ability to educate Latino students and prepare them for [college] is a failed enterprise,” said Tony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, on a conference call Thursday about a new report on Latino college completion rates.

The report — by Excelencia in Education, a nonprofit focused on how America can better serve Latino students — includes a state-by-state fact sheet and highlights successes in improving Latino college graduation rates.

    Colorado By the Numbers

  • Colorado had the 8th largest Latino population in the United States
  • 28 percent of the K-12 population was Latino
  • The median age of Latinos was 26, compared to 38 for non-Hispanic whites
  • 18 percent of Latino adults aged 25 to 64 had earned an associate degree or higher, compared to 46 percent of all adults

California is of particular importance: It has the largest Latino population in the country – 38 percent of the state’s residents self-identify as Latino – and one of every two K-12 students is Latino. Only New Mexico, with 60 percent, has a higher percentage.

In California, 16 percent of Latino adults hold at least an associate degree, compared to 39 percent of all adults. The college graduation rate for Latinos in California is 35 percent, compared to 47 percent for their white peers.

“If California is the bellwether of other states, we’re really going to be challenged to get the kind of educational attainment that we need to be successful,” says Deborah Santiago, co-founder of Excelencia in Education and an author of the study.

The success Santiago of which speaks is reaching the goal set by President Barack Obama: to have 60 percent of young people – those aged 25 to 34 – across the nation with some postsecondary credential by 2020. To achieve that, the report says 5.5 million Latino students would need to earn college degrees in the next eight years.

“Almost the entirety of the population growth that we’ll look at over the next two decades will consist of students and individuals that we have not been particularly successful at serving,” says Dennis Jones, president of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. “And if we don’t serve them well, then the country will have no hope of reaching the goals for an educated workforce.”

How Colorado fared on the national report

Colorado Latino College Completion Rates

The Hechinger Report is a nonprofit news organization that is focused on producing in-depth education journalism. It is an independently funded unit of Teachers College, Columbia University.

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.