This story comes to us from NBC Latino.
If the US wants to regain its status as the country with the most educated workforce, Latinos will need to earn 5.5 million college degrees by 2020. The Latina-led nonprofit Excelencia in Education issued a new report on Latino college completion in all 50 states, to create “a roadmap to ensure Latino student success” according to Excelencia’s President Sarita Brown.
Only 19 percent of Latinos between the ages of 25 and 64 have earned at least an associate degree, compared to 38 percent of all U.S. adults.
“It is clear we won’t reach President Obama’s goal of having the most college degrees by 2020 if the Latino education gap is not bridged,” said Assistant U.S. Secretary of Postsecondary Education Eduardo Ochoa.
Excelencia’s report uses several measures to document Latino college completion in all 50 states, as well as what is working in different states.
The report showed great variation; for example West Virginia’s Latinos have greater college completion than non-Hispanic whites; 28 percent versus 26 percent. The Hispanic population in West Virginia, however, is very small, only about 1 percent of the population.
Calfornia’s numbers are very different. Only 16 percent of California’s Hispanics have a college degree, compared to 39 percent of the general state population. Yet half of the state’s current schoolchildren are Latino.
To improve these numbers, the report also lists the state programs which are getting it right. The University of California’s Puente project, for example, provides academic assistance and help to lower-income Latinos who enter communty colleges.
The result is impressive - 86 percent of Puente program’s community college students who transferred to the University of California graduated within 4 years.
“Data is only as good as how it is used to improve conditions,” says Excelencia in Education’s Deborah Santiago, author of the report, on the need to show which programs are working.
Anthony Carnevale, Director of the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, did not mince words as he discussed what he thought has been the failure to educate the nation’s Hispanics.
“Our ability to educate Latino students and prepare them for post secondary education is a failed enterprise,” he said, in large measure “because Americans are fearful of Latino encroachment on their culture.” Carnevale says more must be done to successfully educate Latino immigrant children, especially those who need help in mastering the English language.
Excelencia hopes businesses, nonprofits and education experts use the report to increase their involvement in educating the nation’s Latino students.
“Our commitment,” says Sarita Brown, “is to hold ourselves accountable in enrolling, serving and graduating” the growing number of students in our American society which are increasingly Latino.
Sandra Lilley is a reporter with NBC Latino.
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