News Column

Conference Backs Help for Hispanic Education

October 5, 2013

By Mike Bush, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.

A three-day Latino higher education conference in Albuquerque wrapped up Friday with delegates voting on several recommendations to pursue with colleges and universities, K-12 school districts, private organizations and, in a few cases, the Legislature.

By far the most widely supported recommendation was to institutionalize academic support programs that benefit Hispanic students, such as the private Lumina Foundation, which seeks to increase the number of students who graduate from college. Another support group that was cited is the like-minded Engaging Latino Communities for Education, or ENLACE. The recommendation received a favorable vote from 85 percent of those in attendance.

Traditionally, Hispanic students drop out of high school and college at higher rates than others for a variety of reasons. These include problems with learning in English, economic necessity and cultural differences that may place less significance on education, such as a dearth of educated role models or family members who hold college degrees.

The 3rd Biennial Policy Summit on Latino Higher Education was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, featuring speakers and lecturers from around the country.

The summit addressed a wide variety of topics, some of which could be relevant to all students, but some were clearly aimed specifically at Latinos: "Increasing Enrollments, Retention and Graduation Rates for Latino (Latina) Students," and "Assessing the Continued Challenge of Latinos (Latinas) in Leadership and Faculty Roles, and Overcoming Institutional Barriers that Resist Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice."

The summit was organized and presented by the Sereno Alliance for Higher Education and the University of New Mexico.

The final session's recommendations will be put into written form in the near future, then disseminated to delegates, schools, school districts and lawmakers, organizers said. In addition to the vote on institutionalizing support programs, those receiving the most favorable support included a similar one, "Scale up coaching and mentoring initiatives such as ENLACE NM to increase access and success in education." It was given a green light by 73 percent of those voting.

On Wednesday, the most recent ACT test results for high school seniors were presented, and the news was not good for Latinos and some other minority groups. Latinos, by and large, fared better than blacks and Native Americans, although they lagged well behind Asian Americans and whites.

For example, in the English portion of the test, the percentage of Hispanics meeting ACT benchmarks was 48. That compares with 34 for blacks, 41 for Native Americans, 74 for Asian Americans and 75 for whites. In mathematics, the Hispanic percentage was 30, which compares to 14 for blacks, 22 for Native Americans, 71 for Asian Americans and 53 for whites.

Original headline: Conference backs help for Latino education

Source: (c)2013 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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