American schools are failing so many students, especially people of color as shown in the documentary Waiting for Superman Latinos comprise 14 percent of the U.S. populations,asts put Latinos at 25 percent of the U.S. population by 2050. America is an increasingly multicultural society. How well America welcomes people who are from distinct racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds will in large part determine just how democratic America remains.
photo credit: Thomas Hawk
If Americans fail to accept the largest ethnic and racial group in the country then not only is it critical to ask how well America is living up to its ideals, but most importantly, the issue becomes, as political scientist García Bedolla states: “whether our democracy is creating a more just society.” This is an important point because democracy does not necessarily equal justice, so we may have a democratic society that is far from just for many, particularly for minorities.
Latinos are greatly underrepresented in professional occupations, comprising only three to four percent of engineers, doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, and elementary and high school teachers. According to Richard Zweigenhaft and G. William Domhoff, as of August 2010, there are only fifteen Latino CEOs in Fortune 500 companies, and most of these fifteen come from elite immigrant families. According to a Pew Hispanic Center report
Some 41% of Hispanic adults age 20 and older in the United States do not have a regular high school diploma, compared with 23% of black adults and 14% of white adults.
Improving educational levels for Latinos are important for three main reasons: (1) the strength of our democracy depends on a well-educated and committed citizenry. Because Latinos are an increasing part of society, it is important to our country that Latinos be full and equal members of it. (2) The ability to be able to live and achieve the most you can in your life begins with being able to pursue the training and education needed to do so. Personal fulfillment and economic security are critically connected to educational access. (3) The benefits of increasing educational levels among Latinos are not only important for you but for future generations as well. Education is key in improving the quality of life in Latino communities and for society.
As Cesar Chávez said in 1984:
Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.
Education is key to improving the quality of life in Latino communities for generations. Educational opportunities for successive generations only works because others have paved the way. For example, in Passing the Torch, Attewell and Lavin study the impact of higher education on the next generation of “non-traditional” students, (mostly poor and minority) who attended the eighteen-campus City University of New York, which guaranteed enrollment to New York City high school graduates beginning in the 1970s. Attewell and Lavin convincingly document that the “democratization of public higher education….is the first step up the ladder of social mobility, and…generates an upward mobility” for the children of college educated mothers.
Education is a vital community resource for people of color.
Maria, what do you make of all the privatization of schools over last few decades. It appears many whites are now going to all white or mostly white private schools, with much greater resources with our generally declining public schools. Private=white, and public= not white, in many white conservatives’ minds?
Public schools are increasingly stratified by class and race. There are some public schools in the Tacoma/Lacey area that are 80% people of color. And this is in a so-called progressive state! With the increasing isolation of people of color in our schools, in our communities, and in our professions it will be increasingly difficult to come together. What will this say about our public policy choices? I fear it will be increasingly difficult to get white voters to feel committed to voting for the necessary school bonds etc. to improve public schools when their children are not in them anyway.