I got these statistics from Latina Magazine but you need only to look in our backyard to see that they are being generous when it comes to our city.
51% of Latinas get pregnant at least once before turning 20. It’s twice the national average.
8.26% – Latinas have the highest teen pregnancy rate in America compared to 2.67% of whites.
One-third of 9 to 15 year old Latinas cited pregnancy or marriage as the reason they dropped out of school.
22% of Latino kids ages 16-24 were not in school in 2005 and it’s double the percentage of African Americans at 10.4%. That equals 1.4 million kids.
36.5% of recent immigrants skip school to go to work.
38% of Latinos ages 16-19 work.
34.4% of Latinos who dropped out in 2006 said they dropped out to work.
49% of Latino kids attend the poorest schools and 56% attend the largest schools. These schools offer very little in the way of advanced courses, which makes it hard to get entrance into universities.
45% of schools serving Latino kids have advanced courses and 74% of girls want them.
So what’s up? From my vantage point as a 45 year-old Latina, I see a few problems. One is that there is an inferiority complex in Latino culture and I am not sure where it comes from. We are a proud people so that may be an issue when it comes to getting some information. Ignorance is why people don’t achieve bigger things; they just don’t seek out a better way. Maybe they feel that a menial job is good enough but according to Latina the average high school drop out makes $22,000 a year. That’s below the poverty rate and hardly enough to support a family. Get a married couple making an average of $44,000 combined and while it may look a little more decent in household income that leaves the dilemma of who is at home watching the kids? While other immigrant families come here and within a generation has turned their circumstances around Latinos still have not done so.
The second is expectation. While I see very strict upbringing with a strong emphasis in education in an Asian home or a Middle Eastern home, I do not see that in a Latino home today and have never seen an importance put on education in the average Latino home. Our response to our children’s behavior is to look dumbfounded and throw our hands up in the air. We don’t expect a great deal out of kids. We criticize White America as being too permissive but in some cases we are worse. The emphasis on education simply has to change if we are going to work to change statistics. There has to be an expectation set in your child from the day you bring them home from the hospital. The expectation needs to be not IF you go to college but WHERE will you go. Not IF you will make something of yourself but that you WILL make something of yourself. Not everyone is college bound but every able body person in the world needs a job! Welfare creates slaves and a narrow-mindset. We must overcome obstacles and move forward.
For some Latina girls it’s a mixed message. Go to college, is what the education systems tells us, and make something of yourself but don’t leave your culture and marry outside of your ethnicity is what our culture says. The problem with that is that boys drop out of high school in bigger numbers and the number of men doesn’t even come close to the number of women graduating from college in any ethnicity. So the message is get an education but don’t come back too smart that you won’t be able to find a nice Latino man to marry.
In short, what we need are mentors. We need solid Latinos who will give back to those youth who just lack supervision for the most part. We need to set the example and show them that there is a better way. Yes, it takes time, I mentored a youth who struggled with home strife and gang affiliation and it meant going to speak to her school counselor each week with phone calls to the school in between our meetings. We did get this youth graduated from high school and off to a technical college. It must become the normal thing to graduate from high school and from college. It must be that the first generation of immigrants set the groundwork for success for all future generations and every generation that follows must do better than the last. Our faith as followers of Christ is to follow the example of Jesus. Jesus said that we would do the things he did and greater still. That means, we train up the next generation we are in charge of to do all that we do, and greater still. We have got to look beyond our circumstances and quit looking for government bailout. We can do it by changing our mind and changing our world.