MALDEF

New Report Highlights Latina Students Face Greater Challenges Than Counterparts

MALDEF and National Women’s Law Center Uncover Series of Unique Challenges Latina Students Face, Offer Strategies to Maximize Success

THURSDAY, AUGUST 27, 2009- Today, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) and MALDEF were joined by U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Chair of the Education Task Force for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, in releasing "Listening to Latinas: Barriers to High School Graduation", a new report that takes a close look at the drop-out crisis in the Latino community. The latest data show that 41% of Latina students do not graduate on time with a standard high school diploma. The study reports that while 98% of high school seniors want to graduate from high school, and 80% aspire to higher education, Latina students continue to face numerous challenges in reaching these goals.

The report is available here.

The study reveals that as Latinos work to provide for their families, education too often takes a back seat to survival. Often times Latina students must take on parental duties to either younger siblings, or, in a community with the highest teen pregnancy rate, their own children. Cultural stigmas contribute to low self-esteem and insecurities, allowing society to ignore Latina students who then trade-in the possibility of a future career, for a future predestined by bias, discrimination, and a lack of support.

Beginning by acknowledging that a problem exists, and recognizing the importance of investing in our children, the study offers some solid recommendations. The recommendations include calling on schools, policymakers, and government agencies to: invest in the future of Latino children through high-quality early learning programs, connect Latinas with role models, ensure that all students are prepared for post-secondary educational opportunities, ensure safe school environments that are culturally inclusive and free from discrimination, help Latino parents get involved in their children’s education, improve efforts to prevent teen pregnancy and provide support for pregnant and parenting students, and require better data collection and promote school accountability.

By empowering Latina students, we are empowering America. For more information on this critically important report, visit MALDEF.org.

MALDEF would also like to thank The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for underwriting the study.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund