Educational System Fails Chicano Students at Every Level, Says Report
Educators, policy makers, community leaders and other stakeholders must do more to combat the dismal high school and college graduation rates of Chicano students, says a new report issued by the University of California, Los Angeles’ Chicano Studies Research Center.
Out of 100 Chicano students who start elementary school, only 46 graduate from high school, eight receive a bachelor’s degree and only two earn a graduate or professional degree, according to statistics based on 2000 U.S. Census Bureau and other educational data sources. Less than one Chicano of the 100 earns a doctorate.
In contrast, of every 100 White elementary school students, 84 graduate from high school, 26 attain a bachelor’s degree and 10 earn a professional degree, researchers say. Chicanos, the fastest growing segment of the student population in California and all major cities west of the Mississippi, have the lowest educational attainment of major racial and ethnic group in the country.
“Education is a crucial determinant for success in our society,” says study co-author Dr. Daniel Solórzano, a UCLA professor of education and the center’s associate director. “What we see happening for Chicanos and Chicanas, however, is that they drop, or are pushed, out of the educational pipeline in higher numbers than any other group. While it is easy to blame the students, the responsibilities reside in the educational system itself.”
Solórzano and Dr. Tara J. Yosso, an assistant professor of Chicano Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a visiting scholar at the UCLA center, identified several conditions that impede the flow of Chicanos through the educational pipeline.
“The educational system is clearly failing Chicano students at every level,” Yosso says. “We can no longer ignore these blatant inequalities. It is of extreme importance to address these issues now.”
The researchers recommended focusing on three critical transition points, when Chicano students’ educational progress is most likely to get derailed. According to the study, Chicano high school students must be prepared for college, community college students must be ready to transfer to four-year schools, and undergraduates must be primed to make the jump to graduate school.
In California, 40 percent of Latinos who enroll in community colleges aspire to transfer to a four-year college or university. However, less than 10 percent of these students reach their goal of transferring to a four-year college.
“This is a tremendous talent loss to the state of California and the nation,” Yosso says.
Once at a four-year university, Chicano college students tend to experience higher levels of stress than other undergraduate students. They generally balance schoolwork with off-campus employment, which limits the students’ time to speak with professors during office hours, ask an academic counselor for guidance or participate in academic enrichment, tutoring or research programs.
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