LatinaLista — Today’s nomination by President-elect Obama of Arne Duncan, the CEO of Chicago Public Schools, as Secretary of Education has been met with moderate approval ratings from several professional educational organizations in the city that knows him best, Chicago.
Education Secretary-designate Arne Duncan, flanked by President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden, speaks at the Dodge Renaissance Academy in Chicago, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2008. (AP Photo)
According to President-elect Obama, Duncan already has a proven track record:
In just seven years, heâ€™s boosted elementary test scores here in Chicago from 38 percent of students meeting the standards to 67 percent. The dropout rate has gone down every year heâ€™s been in charge. And on the ACT, the gains of Chicago students have been twice as big as those for students in the rest of the state.
That’s good to hear since a new report on the status of Latinos’ education released today by Excelencia in Education outlines the full extent of the challenges he’s going to face in working with Latino families across the country so that tomorrow’s majority won’t be undereducated.
In Factbook: The Condition of Latinos in Education 2008, it becomes increasingly clear that Duncan and other educators must be innovative if they want to reverse the current educational trends among Latino students.
While building upon what Duncan has already been able to implement in Chicago by opening up schools to afterschool programs and making the public schools centers for involvement by the local community, educational strategies must also take in the cultural nuances that keep students from being fully prepared when they enter school to “enlightening” them to see the value of an education that involves receiving a high school diploma, a Bachelor’s degree and higher.
There are several initiatives to get teachers to recognize when a student is struggling and how to intervene but the bottom line is that students and their families have to want an education. For many Latino families who live in poverty, learning about history and science are considered a waste of time if the students can be helping out the family.
That’s why new innovative approaches, like those proposed by Harvard economist Roland Fryer, who advocates that students should be paid for good grades, are catching the imagination of both students and educators who see that working towards good grades and being monetarily rewarded is not any different than putting in a good day’s work and receiving a salary.
However, this is only one idea. It’s clear that any future innovations in education will have to extend beyond the walls of the classroom and the boundaries of the school campus. It has gotten to the point where it must be a community-wide initiative to underscore the seriousness of what it means to this country to have a majority population that will be undereducated if current trends continue.
Today’s Factbook acts like a crystal ball for the Latino community and our national educational leaders in that it clearly shows a path that should be avoided at all costs.
Some of the findings about the state of Latinos and education are:
Hispanic children under age five were less likely to be enrolled in early childhood education programs than other groups. In 2005-06, about half of Hispanic children under five (49%) were in a center-based setting as their primary type of early education and care, compared to 60% or more of their white, black, Asian, or American Indian/Alaska Native peers.
Hispanic children 4 to 5 years of age had lower average scores in language knowledge and skills than white, black, or Asian children in 2005-06.
Hispanic students consistently perform below some of their peers in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). In both fourth and eighth grades, Hispanic students lag behind white peers in reading (fourth grade: 205 vs. 231; eighth grade: 247 vs. 272) and mathematics (fourth grade: 227 vs. 248; eighth grade: 265 vs. 291).
The average reading scores for Hispanic high school seniors has decreased. In 1992, the average reading score for Hispanic seniors was 279; in 2005, it was 272.
While the status dropout rate for Hispanics has decreased from 32% in 1990 to 22% in 2006, it is still higher than that of other groups: 11% for blacks, 6% for whites, and 4% for Asians/Pacific Islanders.
Latinos represented 12% of SAT test-takers for 2008 college-bound seniors, but had lower mean scores in all areas of the SAT reasoning test than did white, Asian/Pacific Islander, or American Indians/Alaska Native students.
Hispanics of traditional college-age are less likely to be enrolled in college. In 2006, 24% of Hispanics 18-24 years old were enrolled in degree-granting institutions, compared to 33% of black, and 41% of white students.