LatinaLista — This week, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF) joined together to release a new study about the Latina dropout crisis.
Listening to Latinas: Barriers to High School Graduation examines the complex reasons that prevent 41% of Latina students from graduating high school.
Of those who do not graduate, their futures are at risk for: a teenage pregnancy or multiple pregnancies before the age of 20, a career of dead-end jobs, being a welfare recipient, a drug addict or locked up for criminal activity.
The report documents the reasons why these young Latinas who don’t graduate are particularly vulnerable, but it doesn’t stop there. The NWLC and MALDEF provide resources for schools to help them graduate more Latinas and provide concrete recommendations to state, local and federal policymakers on how to reverse this disturbing trend through passage of necessary legislation.
There is also a link for readers to get involved and see how they can support Latina students.
The girls who find themselves on a destructive path but can maneuver past the challenges are the lucky ones.
Lucy Flores was one of these girls.
Lucy shares with readers her personal story and what she’s doing today to help more girls, who are growing up like she did, have a tomorrow of which they cannot only be proud but can dream of.
By Lucy Flores
My name is Lucy Flores. I’m a first-generation Mexican American and the youngest girl of 13 siblings. Growing up, I didn’t think I had much to strive for.
My mom left home when I was nine, and my father worked day and night to feed and clothe us. I had no positive role models and no support system in place.
I started ditching school. Committing petty larceny. Running away from home. Finally dropping out of school. And when I did, no one even bothered to call and find out if I was coming back.
They thought I was just another stereotype — just “another Latina” in a low-income school. A statistic. One of the 41 percent of Latina students who do not graduate with their class in four years — if they graduate at all.
Latina girls deserve more from our schools. That’s why I’m partnering with the National Women’s Law Center to help fight the Latina dropout crisis.
The Center’s ground-breaking new report, produced with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund – Listening to Latinas: Barriers to High School Graduation, shines a light on the dropout problem and shows how we can solve it.
The Center’s research shows that there is much that policymakers and schools can do to help Latinas, such as connecting students with role models, offering comprehensive sex education, and undertaking initiatives to get students ready for college.
Our goal is to make sure thousands of educators and policymakers across the country help Latina students by incorporating the recommendations in our report.
Today, I’m one of the lucky ones. I was fortunate to have had a few people intervene and encourage me. I realized that I was capable of more.
I got my G.E.D. and attended college. Now I’m a third-year law student, and I’m running for the state assembly in Nevada.
But it shouldn’t just be about luck. Your involvement makes a difference. Help Latina students stay in school by signing the pledge of support and taking action today. The pledge:
I support Latina students and believe that our country should do everything possible to help these young women achieve their dreams.
I will educate myself and others about the challenges facing Latinas and what can be done to support Latina students.
I will share Listening to Latinas with educators and policy makers in my community.
We have to do better. We can do better.