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The Challenge of Improving Education in the Hispanic Community

July 29, 2009

A recent study by the University of Georgia compares the economies of the different minority groups in the United States. The differences are substantial but there is one that catches my attention the most and that is the amount of dollars that Hispanics dedicate to education compared to the other groups.

The overall results of the study show that, for example, African Americans spend more money on phone services, utilities, apparel, footwear, and groceries. Asians spend more money on food, housing, major appliances, telecom services, education, and personal insurance. Hispanics spend more money on groceries, phone services, furniture, fuel, clothing, and footwear.

After looking at the list above, I can’t avoid asking, where is education in Hispanic spending? I can understand why groceries, clothing and footwear are some of the top items. Hispanics usually have bigger households than non-Hispanics. As a matter of fact it is 3.2 persons per household versus 2.4 persons for non-Hispanics, according to the same research but, beyond the size of household, it is hard to neglect the fact that Hispanics are not paying enough attention to education. Kids in our community have one of the highest school drop-out rates, if not the highest.

Where does this lack of interest start? How can we change the drop-out trend? I realize that these are two big questions and the responses can take different directions but if we put all things (school districts, quality of educational programs, teacher preparation, etc) at the same level and if we extract Hispanic parents out of the group, you will see some interesting findings. Analyzing the responses of Hispanic parents in a recent study for an educational entity in the Houston area, it was evident that they had a very different view from non-Hispanic parents (mostly Anglos) about how to manage the education of their children. The two most notable were:

1- The accountability delegated by Hispanic parents to school teachers. Hispanic parents believed that teachers were the forefront of education; therefore, teachers were responsible for motivating and encouraging learning, not the parents.
2- The lack of involvement of Hispanic parents in school activities. Hispanic parents lack participation in school activities when compared to non-Hispanic parents. Many of them were simply working all the time.

These two problem areas need work; a lot of work and could be the foundation for building interest among Hispanic parents. School districts and non-profit organizations related to education could approach this disconnection among Hispanic parents and provide services to tackle such problem. The goal will be to increase Hispanic parents’ participation in the education of their children. Get them involved and help them build a different perspective about the value of education. It is no secret that parents play a key role in the education of their children.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 23, 2009 12:13 am

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  2. September 9, 2011 7:22 pm

    I’ve seen both sides of the spectrum: some Hispanic parents push their children to do their best in school to earn an education they never have, others are ignorant to the necessity of their input in their child’s education. Since this blog was written, has there been any increase in the involvement on Hispanic parents in their children’s education?

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