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.
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