Schools Not Jails

There was recently an article in RaceWire about the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, and his plan to help Latino students not only get into college but be able to graduate as well.

Duncan’s plan involves a combination of helping with financial aid—an accomplishment his department can already claim after the monumental victory of the passage of the Student Aid and Financial Responsibility Act—and revamping high school curriculum. Duncan also says the success of Latino students in higher education is dependent on the presence of Latino educators in the classroom.

Latino students are more likely to face structural barriers to getting into and staying in school. Students of color come from disproportionately lower-income neighborhoods, where the most underfunded schools are concentrated. And even if they do get to college, students of color are more likely to drop out because of the high costs of tuition. A full 49 percent of Latino students delay or don’t attend college because of the high cost of student loans.

Keeping students interested and involved in high school is the first step. The drop out rates right now are devastating. It is a complex issue that most people do not take the time to fully understand. Unfortunately, that lack of knowledge does not stop the blaming of poor communities for this problem. The National Women’s Law Center and The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund have explored the causes of the dropout crisis for Latinas and identifies the actions needed to improve their graduation rates. Many Latina students face challenges related to poverty, immigration status, limited English proficiency, and damaging gender and ethnic stereotypes. The report can be found here.

Here is an inspiring video of Lucy Flores. She was a high school drop-out but is now a third-year law student.

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