NYC Reports Low Grad Rates For Mexican Youth

By Victoria  Cepeda

According to today’s NYTimes.com article “Now Arriving: In New York, Mexicans Lag in Education” despite making up for the largest Hispanic population in the city, Mexicans lag in education with severe high school drop out rate and low college enrollment.

The reasons cited in the article for this concerning trend are the old too familiar ones such as the fact that Mexican immigrants are mostly illegal and poor, parents work multiple jobs/long hours, kids whose peers also drop out and join gangs, parents that lack contact with kids’ school, no English proficiency and the the need to find jobs to help the family financially. The drawback being that the jobs available are predominantly for the low skilled i.e. restaurant, grocery stores and the like.

  • About 41 percent of all Mexicans between ages 16 and 19 in the city have dropped out of school, according to census data.
  • No other major immigrant group has a dropout rate higher than 20 percent, and the overall rate for the city is less than 9 percent, the statistics show.
  • Among Mexican immigrants 19 to 23 who do not have a college degree, only 6 percent are enrolled. That is a fraction of the rates among other major immigrant groups and the native-born population.
  • Educational achievement among Mexican immigrants is worse in New York than in the broader Mexican population around the country in part, experts say, because Mexicans in the city have shallower roots, less stable households and higher rates of illegal immigration

Activists are calling for mentors and volunteers to help with tutoring. One key misconception that educators and activists are attempting to debunk is that:

Many young illegal immigrants in New York City say there is no point in staying in school because their lack of legal status limits their access to college scholarships and employment opportunities. Some drop out under the erroneous belief that they are not eligible to attend college. (Illegal immigrants who graduate from a high school in New York State or earn a G.E.D. are not only allowed to attend the state’s public university system, but are also eligible for in-state tuition.)

As I have pointed out in previous articles on education, it seems that parents’ involvement (or lack thereof) continues to be the determining factor in whether a child succeeds in school or not. In addition, as the article illustrates, parents that lack a basic high school education, on average, are  unable to motivate their children enough to stay in school.

Exceptions aside, if this trend does not improve, being the new majority/minority in the US will mean little if our Mexican youth, as part of the largest Latino immigrant group living in the U.S.,  do not attain better high school and college graduation rates. This should be an issue that concerns all Latinos and should propel us to continue to work hard to improve our community’s involvement in education.

“Now Arriving: In New York, Mexicans Lag in Education”

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3 Responses to “NYC Reports Low Grad Rates For Mexican Youth”

  1. Efrain,

    Your post speaks directly towards a personal initiative I’ve been pursuing in my children’s elementary and high school districts here in the NW suburbs. While the Latino population is currently the 3rd largest one in both districts, the numbers will obviously continue to grow and the school’s are not prepared to to handle that growth. In addition, the district went “green” a couple of years ago and notices of any kind are not allowed to go home with the children for the parents to read and stay informed. All access to school happenings, academic changes or opportunities for parent’s to engage comes by way of one channel — the internet. But it gets better, once a parent reaches the districts website they’ll quickly realize that the information is only in English. So not only is access to a computer with internet access essential, but parents must have basic keyboarding and navigation skills in order to navigate the site effectively. Sad state of affairs.
    So that’s why it’s important that we continue to sound that blow horn so that ALL parent’s have the chance to begin to engage and move towards an inclusive and welcoming parent as partners environment.
    Thank you for your post and more than that, thank you for continuing to sound the bull horn for the children and their families.

  2. For most Americans, formal education is definitely not the answer. Few people actually possess the higher academic skills & are far better suited for a life of manual pursuits or obtaining on-the-job apprentice training in some trade or technical career. Continuing to believe otherwise merely denies reality & creates a lot of misplaced unhappy people wondering what’s wrong in their lives. Of course, this truism is precisely why the status quo will remain unchallenged & continue..

  3. @Kelly – not attaining average high school graduation rates is a concern regardless of what the expectation on higher ed is. Vocational and tech schools that build some of the skills that you’re referring to go hand in hand with a high school diploma. I fully agree that “formal education” is not for everyone, and the expense of obtaining one is burdensome, but that should not be an excuse to continually rank in the low numbers when compared to other ethnic groups. Rather, each student should consider college based on his/her academic performance i.e. poor vs competitive and their outlook in life. Another key factor that we must consider is that parents’ encouragement of one’s school performance makes a world of difference. Indifference and lack of involvement from our parents when it comes to school leads to more drop outs than you know. Thanks for your comment.

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