Educational Barriers for Latinos in GA

My daughter (Latino) with her best friend from Asia, next to her second best friend from Africa. In the back, one of the many classmates from India.

In 2005 (9 years ago) there was a paper published in the Journal for Latino Education named “Educational Barriers for Latinos in Georgia” discussing the educational barriers for Latinos in Georgia as a gateway state and their outcomes.

The authors, Bohon, Stephanie A.; MacPherson, Heather; Atiles, Jorge H.,  all form UGA; included the following excerpt:

“The recent influx of Latinos to new destinations in the Southeast offers a unique opportunity to explore educational outcomes in emerging gateway states. This study utilizes qualitative methods to predict future educational outcomes for Latinos in Georgia. Six primary barriers to Latino educational attainment were uncovered: (a) lack of understanding of the U.S. school system, (b) low parental involvement in the schools, (c) lack of residential stability among the Latino population, (d) little school support for the needs of Latino students, (e) few incentives for the continuation of Latino education, and (f) barred immigrant access to higher education”

This paper has been cited 115 times received great commentary.  However, in spite of some great initiatives such as The Center for Latino Achievement and Success in Education  (CLASE) from University of Georgia and some success stories (which I encourage you to share with us)  we do not know of any large-scale success systems of experiences.

In the paper, the authors make a few key points that you would think are easy to address, i.e. one of the reasons parents do not register children in school is because the poorest and least educated parents often hold the misconception that they have to pay for school and books and since they tend to live very close to each other, they have little exposure to those who can better inform them. You would think we should have “navigators” funded by either non-profits, the states, the federal government, etc in places with high concentrations of Latino laborers, etc.

Others issues, of course are more difficult to address, such as the lack of child care and transportation when required to attend meetings and school conferences (issue only aggravated with later legislation passed in the state). Traditionally with Latinos, the division of gender roles is very distinct and so fathers work -a lot- and are not expected to attend any children matters at school.

Of course, the lack of knowledge of English and a feeling of embarrassment of mothers for not being able to express themselves correctly and understand the system are key to the problems, too and not that easy  and cheap to solve.

An interesting point in the paper is the fact that even though many females are high achievers, they often feel that high school or college is unnecessary since their home responsibilities (taking care of younger siblings, etc) are overwhelming in order for their parents to work some more and provide better for their families.

My question to you, is:  What has changed or better, what have we done to improve outcomes and reduce barriers in these past 9 years?  Now that we know that the Georgia population is predominantly young and 87% of all children under 18 are US citizens (source Georgia Latino Health Report 2012.

I am looking forward to some comments.

For some more info, check out the Pew Research Hispanic Trend Project charts

and of course, the US Census data.

Published by

Gilda (Gigi) Pedraza

Executive Director and Founder Latino Community Fund (LCF Georgia) Social Entrepreneur, Community Advocate, Latina, Mom, Wife. Lover of Life.

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