The success of achieving president Obama’s education goals and making the U.S. the place that has “the highest proportion of students graduating from college in the world by 2020” depends on how well the U.S. educates American Hispanics; in 16 years, almost one quarter of college-age adults will be Latino. The trouble, according to “Taking Stock: Higher Education and Latinos”, a new report, is that a great deal of existing American policy about Latinos is based on stereotypes. According to an article about the report in the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Deborah Santiago…the report’s author, said public policy is usually based on a very limited view of Latinos that defines them as immigrants, high-school dropouts, and English-language learners who do not value education.
She acknowledged that while Latinos are more likely than members of other ethnic groups to fit the stereotype, a majority of Latinos do not. Rather, a majority of Latinos are native-born, are high-school graduates, speak English as their dominant language, and greatly value higher education.
The report urged Americans to think about Latino higher education needs broadly. According to Santiago, virtually all conversations about Latinos in college are about either “Hispanic-serving institutions or undocumented students.” But there’s a lot more to talk about.
Policy discussions about Latino education tend to be too narrow. Most policy discussions work that way. But Latinos who are English speaking, high school graduates, and American citizens eager to access higher education actually look a whole lot like the rest of the population. And policies to address them might be a very good thing.