Hispanic students more often in poor, overcrowded schools

November 4th, 2005 by Key Magazine

“Hispanic teens are more likely than any other racial or ethnic group to attend public high schools that have the dual characteristics of extreme size and poverty,” Richard Fry, senior associate at the Pew Hispanic Center, was quoted by the Associated Press.

A recent report by the center places more than half of Hispanic teenagers in schools with enrollments of roughly 1,800 students. They also found that student-teacher ratios of greater than 22 to 1 was common for four of ten Hispanic high school students. These numbers are significantly different for white and black students in public schools across the nation.

Most Hispanic students are concentrated in California, Texas, Florida, New York, Arizona, Illinois and New Jersey. Having large schools is normal in these states, but Hispanic students are disproportionately educated in large schools that lack the funding to provide a good education.

Overcrowding in schools has adverse affects on education as dropout rates are higher and academic achievement is lower at large schools. Both problems plague the Hispanic high school student population.

The federal government is working with state and local governments to try to address the problem, especially in the wake of No Child Left Behind, which penalizes schools for low performance.

For high school counselors in overcrowded, low-performing schools with large Hispanic populations, the pressure to prepare students for graduation, college or the work force is a daunting task. While data shows that Hispanic teens are going to college in larger numbers, there is a huge gap between the number of whites who go on to college.

“When it comes to college enrollment,” Fry said, “Hispanics are chasing a target that is accelerating ahead of them.”

Is it possible to catch up? Can the public school system reform enough to help Hispanic students receive a quality education? How much does the illegal immigrant problem play in the disparities in education?

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