California’s high drop-out rates of Latino and black students are not surprising — it’s “expected”

LatinaLista — The California Department of Education released a report detailing how the true(er) drop-out rate for California’s high school students stands at 24 percent. What was not so interesting was the breakdown by ethnicities:

The new data revealed high dropout rates for minority students: 41.3 percent of black students, 31.3 percent of Native Americans, 30.3 percent of Hispanics, and 27.9 percent of Pacific Islanders. White students had a 15.2 percent dropout rate, while Asians had a 10.2 percent rate.

Uninteresting because it’s the same story that’s always heard. In fact, when the day comes that African Americans and Latino students surpassed their Anglo and Asian peers, that will be a big story.
Because somebody will finally see that the key to reversing this dismal tradition has to do with a simple word but a complex concept — expectations.

Too often when talk centers on black and Latino dropouts, the reflex analysis is that these were lazy kids. They didn’t want to do the work.
Slowly, it’s being learned that that assumption is not a-one-size-fits-all. Sure, for whatever reason, there are students of any ethnic group for whom school is a waste of time but that doesn’t explain the high numbers of black and Latino students who choose to opt out rather than stay and learn.
In a separate article titled Why do Asian students generally get higher marks than Latinos?, students were brought together to talk about the racial achievement gap.
What was revealed is that certain students were expected to do better, while others were not. I’m not talking about parental expectations but faculty expectations.
As was noted in the article:

But as one student said in a separate interview, many Latino students are responding to cues. Johana Najera, 17, said the Academic Decathlon offers a not-so-subtle cue about who belongs.
“We already know that it’s Asian, and they kind of market it more for Asians,” Najera said. She noted that the shirts for the Academic Decathlon team have a logo done in the style of anime, Japanese animation. “It appeals more to Asian students,” she said.

Over time, the students, subconsciously or not, internalize these low expectations and they evolve into self-deprecating remarks that attribute low academic performance to “being Mexican” or “being brown.” Just as the flip side to this is how Asian students are assumed to be all high achievers and honor students.
The unfortunate truth that has emerged from these years of “expectational conditioning” (a phrase I made up) is that Asian students are assumed to graduate and go on and study math, biology or engineering while Latino students are either expected to get pregnant, join a gang and drop out.
But it doesn’t have to be this way, and more than ever, academic attitudes need to change if we are to survive with a profitable economy in this country.
A 2006 labor study reveals that 500 of the largest U.S. companies will lose 50 percent of their senior management by 2011.
With so many students dropping out of high school, and that’s only California, it is highly probable that there won’t be enough qualified professionals to fill the positions that are coming vacant in three years.
Whenever the topic of dropouts is discussed, debate always centers on improving the physical campus, equipping the teachers with better facilities and tools and offering more challenging and robust curriculums.
Yet, the simple answer is that teachers, counselors, principals and everyone who walks into that school should expect ALL of the students to excel. But that expectation has to start from preschool and sustained throughout these children’s academic careers.
Because when teachers and school officials believe these children can succeed and do better, the parents will believe it too. The sad thing is that most kids, at one time, knew they could do it but when no one believed they could succeed, and only fail, it was easy to comply because that was the expectation.

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  1. Frank said:

    Boy I have heard of some lame excuses for not valueing an education and dropping out of school but this one takes the cake.

  2. Horace said:

    “With so many students dropping out of high school, and that’s only California, it is highly probable that there won’t be enough qualified professionals to fill the positions that are coming vacant in three years.”
    This is preposterous, as inevitably immigration policy would adapt to this problem by granting more visas. More Asian Indians and others would be imported to do this work, as there is no shortage of foreign professionals willing to move the U.S. Perhaps Hispanics will finally get the idea that giving birth to more children than they can support is a bad idea and other groups, to include Asians and European ethnic groups will have larger families, as they become more capable of supporting them. You give too much credit to the need for Hispanics to fill these roles, when there are so many other immigrants from other ethnic groups who are doing better.
    Your blame-the-teachers-approach is simplistic and just scapegoating. Its a failure to acknowledge other factors, including cultural. This from
    Note that Krashen doesn’t blame the teachers.
    The Dropout Argument
    by: Stephen D. Krashen
    Critics of bilingual education have cited the high Hispanic dropout rate as evidence against bilingual education. Since most bilingual programs are Spanish-English, it is concluded that bilingual education must be responsible. In this note, I review what is known about dropout rates among Hispanic students.
    Do Hispanic students drop out more?
    The latest figures from the US government have been recently released, covering the academic year 1994-1995 (McMillan, Kaufman, and Klein, 1997). Defining the dropout rate as the proportion of young adults (ages 16 to 24) who are not enrolled in a high school program and who have not completed high school, there is no question that Hispanic students have higher dropout rates: 30 percent of Hispanic young adults were classified as dropouts, compared to 8.6% for non-Hispanic whites and 12.1% for non Hispanic blacks.
    Among Hispanic young adults, however, dropout figures include many who never enrolled in school, foreign born immigrants who apparently came to the US for work and not education (p. 31). The government report calculates that about one-third of the 30% dropout figure for Hispanic young adults is due to non-enrollees. The true dropout rate is thus about 20%.
    Is bilingual education to blame?
    It is true that most students in bilingual education speak Spanish, but not all Spanish speaking children are in bilingual education. Far from it. Fewer than half of the Spanish speaking children in school in California are limited English proficient (Han, Baker, and Rogriquez 1997, Snyder and Hoffman, 1996). Of these, not all are in programs that provide instruction in the primary language; according to Macias (1997), about 30% were in programs that had academic instruction in the primary language while another 22% had “informal” support in the first language. Thus, most Spanish speaking children are NOT in bilingual education. The 20% dropout figure applies to all Spanish speaking children.
    What accounts for dropout rates?
    Not surprisingly, English language speaking ability is a factor. Again limiting the analysis to those who actually enrolled in school, those who reported speaking English “not well” had a 32.9% dropout rate, while those who spoke English well or very well had a 19.2% dropout rate (McMillan, Kaufman and Klein, 1997). This is , once again, not an argument against bilingual education, because studies have shown that children in well-designed bilingual programs do well in English.
    Several “background factors” have been identified as consistent predictors of dropping out: Socioeconomic class, time spent in the US, the presence of print, and family factors. Students in wealthier families drop out less, those who have been here longer and who live in a more print-rich environment drop out less, those who live with both parents, and whose parents monitor school work drop out less, and those who do not become teen parents drop out less.
    What is of great interest to us is that these background factors appear to be responsible for the difference in dropout rates among different ethnic groups. In other words, when researchers control for these factors, there is no difference in dropout rates between Hispanics and other groups. This result holds for those who drop out between grades 8 and 10 (Rumberger, 1995) as well as for those who drop out later (Rumberger, 1983; White and Kaufman, 1997; Pirog and Magee, 1997).
    Rumberger (1995), for example, concluded: “Changes in the predicted odds of dropping out associated with demographic variables become insignificant after controlling for other factors. For example, Black, Hispanic, and Native American students have twice the odds of dropping out compared to White students … however, after controlling for the structural characteristics of family background – particularly, socioeconomic status – the predicted odds of dropping out are no different than those for White students” (p. 605).
    Hispanic students are well behind majority children in these areas. Approximately 40% of Hispanic children live in poverty, compared to 15% of white non-Hispanic children, and 45% live with parents who have completed high school, compared to 81% of non Hispanic white children. Only 68% live with both parents, compared to 81% of non Hispanic white children (Rumberger, 1991).
    White and Kaufman (1997), in their study of high school dropouts between 1980 and 1986 provide a clear example of the impact of these factors.
    Probabilities of dropping out of high school: impact of SES, social capital, generation
    White – low SES, low social capital = .23
    Black – low SES, low social capital = .22
    White – high SES, high social capital = .08
    Black – high SES, high social capital = .08
    Mexican – immigrant, less than 6 years in US, low SES, low social capital = .40
    Mexican – immigrant, more than 6 years, high SES, high social capital = .12
    Mexican- second generation or native, high SES, high social capital = .10
    Asian – immigrant, less than 6 years in US, low SES, low social capital = .31
    Asian – immigrant, more than 6 years in US, high SES, high social capital = .08
    Asian – second generation or native, high SES, high social capital = .07
    social capital = living with both parents,parents monitor schoolwork,siblings in college from: White and Kaufman (1997)
    Note that Hispanic lower social class new immigrants without family factors working in their favor have a high probability of dropping out, but when factors are more favorable, there is no significant difference in the probability of dropping out among the groups.
    Additional evidence that there is strong economic pressure on many Hispanic students comes from Rumberger (1983), who listed the reasons students gave for dropping out. Only 4% of Hispanic male dropouts said that the reason was “poor performance” in school (compared to 8% of male non-Hispanic white students). On the other hand, 38% of the Hispanic students gave economic reasons (desire to work, financial difficulties, home responsibilities), compared to 22% of the non-Hispanic white students. Similar tendencies were present for female dropouts.
    Does Spanish language development increase the odds of dropping out?
    Maintenance of Spanish language and culture may prevent dropping out. The US Government report found that for those Hispanic young adults who were enrolled in school in the US, there is no difference in dropout rates between those who said they spoke Spanish at home (20.3%) and those who said they spoke English at home (17.5%). White and Kaufman (1997) and Rumberger (1995) report similar results.
    Rumbaut (1995) examined the progress of over 15,000 high school students in San Diego from language minority groups. Predictably, those classified as limited English proficient had lower grade point averages and were more likely to drop out. What is very interesting, however, is that those classified as “fluent English proficient” (in other words, bilingual), had better grades and slightly lower dropout rates than those rated English-only. This was the case even though parents of “English-only” students were of higher socio-economic status than parents of the bilingual students.
    The dropout rate among Hispanic students is not linked to bilingual education, and there is no “Hispanic dropout mystery” (Headden, 1997).
    No direct link has been reported between dropout rates and participation in bilingual education. Less than a third of Hispanic children in California are in bilingual programs, and the reported dropout rates refer to all Hispanic children. In fact, because well designed bilingual programs produce better academic English (Krashen, 1996), bilingual education is part of the cure, not the disease.
    Some factors predicting dropout rates have, however, been identified: Low English language ability, poverty, length of residence in the US, the print environment, and family factors. The important finding from the research is that when these factors are controlled statistically, there is no difference among groups in dropout rates. Hispanics do not drop out anymore than other groups do, when one considers socio-economic class and other background factors.
    Finally, there is evidence showing that development of the first language, in addition to fluent and proficient English, is advantageous: Those who speak Spanish at home do not drop out significantly more than those who speak English at home, the results of one study suggest that those who continue to develop their primary language after achieving proficiency in English drop out less.
    Marisa, your blog strengthens the antiamnesty crowd arguments. Not only do birthright citizen Hispanics not do well in school, but illegal alien Hispanics are even more likely to be failures. CIR and a pathway to citizenship is a recipe for magnifying an already acceptable problem, one that can only be detrimental to the future of this country.
    I noted the reason nebulous category of “family factors” was mentioned many times in this article. One has to suspect that this is euphemism for a lack of parents educational ethic. It’s interesting that he tiptoed about this without giving details, perhaps in being politically correct.
    I thank you on behalf of those who oppose CIR and amnesty.

  3. Evelyn said:

    Meet ‘Juan Crow’
    By J. Richard Cohen, President
    The final days of Boubacar Bah’s life read like an account of a political prisoner in a gulag.
    Bah, 52, was shackled to the floor of the prison’s medical unit where he was left to moan and vomit until prison officials moved him to a “disciplinary cell.”
    He would stay there for more than 13 hours – alone, unresponsive and foaming at the mouth, the apparent result of a head injury. He would later die in a coma at a hospital.
    But as The New York Times account of his death explains, Bah wasn’t a political prisoner.
    He wasn’t a terrorist held at Guantanamo Bay. And he wasn’t the kingpin of an international crime syndicate.
    Bah was a tailor from Guinea who overstayed his tourist visa in the United States. He was an “illegal.”
    And he’s a casualty of America’s new war on immigrants.
    In the South, Latinos call it “Juan Crow.” Just as Jim Crow laws in the South once ensured that blacks remained “in their place,” the hysterical over-reaction to illegal immigration is turning immigrants in second-class citizens.
    In a Juan Crow world, human rights are trampled, communities terrorized and families torn apart all in the name of getting tough on “illegals.” Anyone who looks or sounds “foreign” is a suspect. Just ask Justeen Mancha. She was getting ready for school one day at her south Georgia home when armed immigration agents barged in, shouting, “Police! Illegals!”
    Justeen, who was 15 when this happened, is a U.S. citizen of Mexican descent. She was terrified by the ordeal.
    A March 2008 report to the United Nations Human Rights Council stated the obvious when it found that “xenophobia and racism towards migrants in the United States has worsened since 9/11.”
    Loudmouth bigots on the airwaves are fanning the flames of hate, spreading propaganda and conspiracy theories that often originate in white supremacist organizations and blaming immigrants for everything from leprosy to invasion plans. The number of hate groups in the country is rising rapidly. And pandering politicians across the country have flooded state legislatures with bills designed to isolate, demean, humiliate and impoverish immigrants. No fewer than 18 state Houses of Representatives have passed resolutions opposing the “North American Union,” a plan to merge the United States with Mexico and Canada, even though no such plan exists.
    It’s no wonder nearly two-thirds of Hispanics surveyed by the Pew Hispanic Center last year believe Congress’ failure to enact immigration reform has made life more difficult for all Latinos.
    America’s war on immigrants is claiming victims, and the human toll is rising. Bah’s family still has questions about their loved one’s death. Justeen Mancha worries that agents might storm her home again. And we, as a nation, are in danger of losing sight of our most fundamental beliefs about human dignity.
    This editorial was published June 14, 2008, in the Huffington Post.

  4. El Loco said:

    What was revealed is that certain students were expected to do better, while others were not. I’m not talking about parental expectations but faculty expectations.
    You totally glossed over what the article had to say about the role of parental expectations:
    Asian parents are more likely to pressure their children to excel academically, the students agreed.
    Compare that to:
    For Carlos Garcia, the one with the knack for math, the message from his parents was to focus on school. Neither got to finish grade school in their native countries.
    His mother, Maribel, from El Salvador, is a homemaker; his father, Santos, a Mexican immigrant, is a drywall finisher who once took Carlos and his older brother to work with him — to scare them away from manual labor. Two of their children have college degrees, one is still in college and Carlos, the only Latino on Lincoln’s Academic Decathlon team, wants to attend Caltech.
    Ericka Saracho, 16, an A student, said her Latino family did not push her to do well in school. When she got a rare B, “they’re like, ‘Oh, wow, Ericka finally got a B! How do you feel about that?’ ” she said. She is one of the few Latina students on Lincoln’s Science Bowl team.
    I agree with you that every person involved in public education should expect all students to put forth their best effort. But when you look at the big picture, parental expectation play an enormous role. Far greater than any teacher or counselor can play.

  5. Liquidmicro said:

    “As was noted in the article:
    But as one student said in a separate interview, many Latino students are responding to cues. Johana Najera, 17, said the Academic Decathlon offers a not-so-subtle cue about who belongs.
    “We already know that it’s Asian, and they kind of market it more for Asians,” Najera said. She noted that the shirts for the Academic Decathlon team have a logo done in the style of anime, Japanese animation. “It appeals more to Asian students,” she said.
    Over time, the students, subconsciously or not, internalize these low expectations and they evolve into self-deprecating remarks that attribute low academic performance to “being Mexican” or “being brown.” Just as the flip side to this is how Asian students are assumed to be all high achievers and honor students.”
    This was but only one thing mentioned, most of what was mentioned was the emphasis that is put on these students by parents and peers. “Let’s say a Latino student is studying and an Asian student is studying,” Martinez said. “The Latino parent will often say, ‘Hey, come help me out real quick, then you can go back to your studying.’ Where the Asian parent will say, ‘Oh, you’re doing your homework. OK, you finish, and then after you’re done, you come help me.’ ”
    And this:
    “Frank D. Bean, a professor of sociology at UC Irvine’s Center for Research on Immigration, Population and Public Policy, has studied the Mexican work ethic and found that work and education occupy the same pedestal, and in some cases, work is even more valued.
    Bean said his research shows that children of Latino immigrants, if they drop out of school, are more likely to be working than most other students who leave school.
    “In Latino families, being able to work to provide defines your manhood, your worthiness,” said Min Zhou, a UCLA sociology professor who has studied working-class Korean and Chinese communities.”
    While I agree with your “expectational conditioning” to a small degree, however it is only a portion of the actual overall problem. I disagree with you only blaming the schools and the persons at the schools, the parents also should be held accountable, you allow them to slide with no blame.

  6. Liquidmicro said:

    “Because when teachers and school officials believe these children can succeed and do better, the parents will believe it too.”
    Why are parents finally mentioned in the last paragraph? Why should the parents be placed after the schools and teachers? Shouldn’t the parents be first? Schools aren’t surrogate parents, they shouldn’t be placed in that position either. The parents should believe in their children, thus the children might do better in school. The parents should put school work first, not second.

  7. Irma said:

    Teachers may hold some of the blame,but most of it lies with the failure of parents to
    place a high value on the acquisition of a good education.
    My parents taught me that gaining an education would free me from a life of hard physical labor. They were right.

  8. gabi said:

    Hello I agree 100% with Irma’s viewpoint. It’s up to the parents!!!! When one sees Latino kids (in gangster clothing, no less)on the streets after 8pm on a weeknight, SOMETHING IS WRONG!!! I live in a predominantly Hispanic region and it’s disgusting to see the drop outs, teen pregnancies, and refusal to learn English! AS an educated minority, education was pushed at home to be the best one could be!
    Additionally, I did have to learn English as a second language and assimilated into 2 European countries; Holland & Germany!
    There are so many programs to help Hispanics get an education it’s unbelievable! If one is to immigrate to the USA, they should HAVE TO LEARN ENGLISH AND ASSIMILATE INTO US SOCIETY!! NO EXCEPTIONS!
    Don’t get me wrong, the USA is built on Immigrants, but those who came had to prove themselves and made an effort to improve their situations. I have had NOTHING handed to me and am still paying off my student loans 10 years later!

  9. American Patriot said:

    Always stupid excuses. Teen Pregnancy, fatherhood and family values. Asians are the strongest in all three of these categories. Whites are second. Enough said.

  10. Joe said:

    Hispanic students are the most rivileged student groups in the U.S. School System.
    All kinds of scholarships and tutoring programs are provided for them in the U.S. University Systems….the opts that are closed to Asian or white students.

  11. Just me said:

    What’s the need for drop out rates at all? That’s their business. If they want to drop out, fine. The state shouldn’t record stuff like that. What do they care what happens to students? They don’t. They just care about the attendance of students so they can get money. The school system is horrible.

  12. Bob Greanad said:

    Yes. Just is right, the people who run the school system dont care at all, they just want the money they get for attendance.

  13. Rob said:

    So let me get this straight. Latino and black students are victims of some sort of “low expectation” syndrome from educators? Really? That theory is both ridiculous and funny. In the poor Latino district where I teach, elementary schools teachers are mostly Latino and mostly female. By the time these kids enter middle school they are already falling behind on national scores. I am tired of hearing the “champions” of the poorer communities claiming some sort of racial bias bringing minorities down. The truth is this; some cultures value education more than others. The Latino culture in this district (as in many other Southern California districts) does not place a high value on education. The children are simply falling in line with their parents, with a few exceptions. The nearby Asian communities are the only places where I have seen after-school tutoring services in strip malls and they’re always filled with Asian students. Class is the major factor in education and that is a fact. Many of these Asians come from upper middle class families while many of the Latinos come from poorer immigrant families. Many Latinos place a high value on hard work, but only as it applies to manual labor, not education. If you look at the Mexican upper class you will find that they value education as well, but the Mexican upper class has no reason to come to Southern California and if they did their children would be in private schools. The article was right about one thing. Expectations are very important, but one has to value that to which ones expectations are demanded.

  14. Mayra86 said:

    Yes historically underrepresented groups are not acheiving academic success but this is happening for many reasons. Overall I’ll say the main reason is the fact that the educational system is constructed to value and reward the cultivation of white middle-class values. History gives some insight into this, who institutionlized the U.S. educational system? European colonizers and it was created because of the evolution of capitalism. To attain status in society people needed to become increasining specialized in different topics of knowledge. Institutions. The educational system serves to reproduce the inequalities that already exist in U.S. society towards blacks, latinos, native americans, and some groups of asians.
    See Ogbu, Rist, Hart/Risley, Paul Tough, Carla O’Connor, and Lareau to understand why the educational system is in the current crisis and why their is an educational gap that is affecting minorities more. (They aren’t being taught the rules of the “game=educational acheivement!)

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