This piece is abundantly clear that the future of Latina/o youth in Texas is the future of Texas' well-being. I hope that folks read this piece not with a sense of dread but rather with a sense opportunity. After all, according to Pew Hispanic, Latina/o students are dropping out of high school at record lows while college enrollment is at a record high.
This is not at all a case of exaggerated hope and promise. Indeed, Texas' Latino community wants to be educated. This pertinent Dallas Morning News piece titled, "Only half of Latino college students graduate. What are Texas schools doing to help?", suggests as much. The problem is less one of college enrollment (although more needs to be done here, as well), but rather with college completion where they experience a significant gap relative to their white peers.
Financial aid is a very important factor in college completion, but also, particularly for first-generation students, other interventions like Summer bridge programs, regular access to advisers, mentors, and internship programs. Plus, they need to feel and experience a sense of belonging. Ethnic Studies departments and program help with this, but much more needs to be done since many students will not find themselves in these programs or classrooms.
This innovative approach at UNT Dallas that builds on neuroscience research creates a ‘Thirdspace’ for Teachers and School Leaders sounds promising, as well. For me, it suggest possible new frontiers for college student retention that we've not yet explored.
Sí se puede! Yes we can!
Texas Lawmakers Reminded of Declining White Population
By Ken Herman | Austin American-Statesman
February 22, 2019