Schools and colleges can make attending college and succeeding at it a realizable goal for Latino students, but educators and policy makers need to do more to help them, according to a collaborative report from Iowa scholars and a national group of Hispanic educators.
Iowa State University’s educational leadership and policy studies (ELPS) program, has collaborated with the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education on a policy brief that provides recommendations for schools and colleges, the university announced last week.
According to the Iowa Department of Education, the state has seen a 109.3 percent increase in Latino enrollment from the 1999-2000 to the 2007-08 school years.
“We’ve got the (Latino) demography and we’ve got the people coming in, but we now need to make sure that this population is well-educated,” said Laura Rendón, chair of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.
“We do not want to have a new citizenry comprised of uneducated individuals who are not able to contribute to the American society — those who are not able to be leaders,” she said. “We want to educate all of these individuals so they can participate fully in all that America has to offer. That means we have to start exposing Latino families to all the educational opportunities that are available.”
Rendón says improving upon Latinos educational outcomes is critical to Iowa, which she calls a new frontier for Latino families.
“They’re coming to Iowa to work in meat-packing and agriculture and chicken processing, etc.,” Rendón said. “These folks, interestingly, are not likely to go back to Mexico or Central America. They want to stay. And what that is doing for Iowa is adding to its population, but also to the number of workers who are available to take jobs in areas where we need them. So the education of this new population is vital to the state’s future. In the future, we also want Latinos to be state leaders with college degrees.”
Doctoral student Jessica Ranero was also one of the brief’s four ELPS authors, contributing results of research she is conducting with ISU assistant professor Ryan Gildersleeve that centers on improving the education of Iowa’s growing Latino population.
ELPS doctoral students Jose Cabrales, Jr. and Philip Vasquez joined Rendón, Ranero and Amaury Nora, professor and editor of the Review of Higher Education at the University of Houston, as authors of the brief. It was distributed nationally to all Hispanic-Serving Institutions and other targeted organizations.
The authors made these recommendations:
The report also said faculty, especially those in Hispanic-Serving Institutions, should be trained to:
In their study, Ranero and Gildersleeve have identified rural Iowa towns that have undergone a significant ethnic population change and interviewed middle school administrators regarding the college-going process for Latino immigrants. They are continuing outreach within the Latino community to better understand its needs regarding higher education.
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