Out-of-school and informal education and learning are key building blocks of everything we do at Hispanic Access Foundation. Some of our work is also done in in-school settings however, to help us reach both second and first generation Latinos.
In an effort to improve educational outcomes among Hispanics, HAF reaches out to the community with educational messages via mass media, electronic media, community activities, and our national grassroots network of churches. More specifically we:
• Encourage parents to become more active in their children’s education; to understand their child’s individual learning needs and choose the school that best meets the needs of their child; to participate in parent meetings and activities; to seek out extra-curricular learning opportunities for their children; and to prioritize a college education for their children even if they themselves were never able to attend college;
• Reach out to students to encourage them to build their skills in math and science, and pursue a college degree; provide referrals to after-school programs, tutors, and science education projects; facilitate referrals to financial aid offices, Hispanic scholarship funds and other scholarship or financial aid resources;
• Encourage community members and teachers to make education a higher priority for their Hispanic students by improving the quality of education they receive and strengthening social support for higher education.
Growing enrollment in public schools
According to a recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center , the number of Hispanic students in the nation’s public schools nearly doubled from 1990 to 2006, accounting for 60% of the total growth in public school enrollments over that period. There are now approximately 10 million Hispanic students in the nation’s public kindergartens and its elementary and high schools, who make up about one-in-five public school students in the United States. By contrast in 1990, just one-in-eight public school students were Hispanic.
Strong growth in Hispanic enrollment is expected to continue for decades, according to a recently released U.S. Census Bureau population projection. The bureau projects that the Hispanic school-age population will increase from 11 million in 2006 to 28 million in 2050 (an increase of 166%), while the non-Hispanic school-age population will grow from 43 million to 45 million (4% increase) in the same time period. By 2050, there will be more school-age Hispanic children than school-age non-Hispanic white children in the United States.
Despite trends toward increased enrollment, less than half of all Latinos graduate from high school. U.S.-born Hispanics have a higher dropout rate than African-American or white students. Only 57% of Hispanics ages 25 and older have at least a high school education, as compared to 84% of the general population. While 27% of the general population 18 and older has at least a bachelor’s degree, only 11% of Hispanics possess at least a bachelor’s degree (U.S. Census Bureau).
Ninety-five percent of Hispanic parents report that it is “very important” to them that their children get a college education, as compared to 78% of white parents . When asked why people do not go to college, 77% of Hispanics cited the cost of tuition as well as the need to work and earn money. Several studies determined that both parents and young Hispanics lack adequate information about post-secondary financial aid. When talking to young adults not currently enrolled in college, three-fourths responded that they would have been more likely to attend college if they had known more about financial aid.
Math and science performance
Only 3% of Hispanics entering four-year colleges and universities in the United States enroll in a science or engineering program. This can be traced in large part to poor performance in middle school and high school, where Hispanic students score an average of 20 points lower than non-Hispanic students in science and math subjects. As a result, 58% of Hispanic 12th-grade students lack proficiency in math and science. These disparities in math and science performance may be related to the academic level of the public schools that the students attend, lack of support and guidance from their parents, or language-related factors.
Nearly all Hispanic adults born in the United States of immigrant parents report they are fluent in English. By contrast, only a small minority of their parents describe themselves as skilled English speakers. A survey of 14,000 Latino adults by the Pew Hispanic Center, found that fewer than one-in-four (23%) Latino immigrants report being able to speak English very well. However, fully 88% of their U.S.-born adult children report that they speak English very well. Among later generations of Hispanic adults, the figure rises to 94%.
Hispanics by a large margin believe that immigrants have to speak English to be a part of American society and that English should be taught to the children of immigrants, according to recent surveys conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center. 92% of all Latinos state that it is very important for children of immigrant families to be taught English.