Saturday, December 20, 2008

WICHE Report Says American Dream in Jeopardy without Success of Hispanics

WICHE Report Says American Dream in Jeopardy without Success of Hispanics

A report of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) (“Beyond Social Justice: The Threat of Inequality to Workforce Development in the Western United States <>”) defines the challenges inherent in the unequal levels of educational attainment of the non-majority populations of the U.S. as follows: “The Western states that are experiencing the sharpest declines in educational attainment from generation to generation are those with the fastest-growing minority populations (Arizona, California, New Mexico and Nevada). Their ability to reverse this downward trend depends on their success in closing the gaps between White non-Hispanics and minorities” (p. 11). After acknowledging that the U.S. has excluded its non-majority groups from workforce and economic development, the WICHE report states that “the West contains the majority of states in the U.S. that will face the largest increases in demand for college-educated workers” and that the need for such workers will exist at a time when “many White non-Hispanics approach retirement age, the younger adult population becomes increasingly diverse, and educational participation and completion gaps among White non-Hispanics and minorities persist” (p. 21). The report concludes with the following observations: “Our failure to adequately serve minorities throughout the West is the most distressing story of this report. In the West Hispanics will soon be the majority population. Yet at nearly every stage in the education process, the systems of education in the West serve Hispanics at the lowest rate of any racial/ethnic population. As a result they continue to represent the majority of workers employed in low-skill, low-wage jobs” (p. 31). “Our future will be greatly affected by our ability (or inability) to equalize opportunity at all stages of the education pipeline. At stake is our competitive position in the global economy and the likelihood that our children and grandchildren will experience the U.S.’s prosperity, as we have. If the social justice reasoning for closing racial/ethnic gaps has run its course, then perhaps the public (and policymakers) will pay closer attention to an argument for closing these gaps that addresses something more near and dear: our individual and collective economic well-being” (pp. 31-32).

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