Blog: Latino Ed Beat

In NYC, Mexican Immigrants Face Education Crisis

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

I spent part of mine catching up on some interesting news related to Latinos and education. One story in particular that caught my eye was this New York Times piece by Kirk Semple. It examines some disturbing data about Mexican immigrant children in New York City. According to Semple, about 41 percent of Mexicans between ages 16 and 19 have dropped out of school, compared to the overall city rate of 9 percent. No other immigrant group has a dropout rate higher than 20 percent. The low education rates continue to the college level, where only 6 percent of Mexican immigrants 19 to 23 without a college degree are enrolled in higher education.

Because Mexicans are the fastest-growing immigrant population in the city, the prospect of a sizable, largely uneducated percentage of them bodes ill for the city’s entire population.

Semple quotes Robert C. Smith, a sociology professor at the City University of New York, as saying the crisis is the result of “a perfect storm of educational disadvantage.” The contributing factors include: poverty, undocumented immigrant status, parents who are uneducated and work in more than one job, language barriers and fear of contact with school officials. Often, parents have no time for school involvement or are afraid that becoming involved might lead to deportation. In addition, there are few tutoring or mentoring programs specifically intended for Mexicans.

The problems might be more acute in New York, but it is worthwhile for education reporters in other parts of the country to see if the same problems are plaguing Mexican or other immigrant groups in their area.

  • Are there mentoring and tutoring programs geared toward those populations?
  • Are parents reluctant to become involved for fear of deportation or language limitations?
  • Do students, such as some in Semple’s story, simply “give up” because they feel higher education is closed off to them?
  • What happens to students who do drop out? Are they working or hanging out on corners?
  • Is anything being done to stem the tide? Are community groups setting up tutoring programs? Are schools doing outreach to bring dropouts back to classrooms?


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