I have more than eight years of experience as an education
reporter. I worked for The Dallas Morning News for six years and
The Wichita Eagle in Kansas for two years. I hold a journalism
degree from Northwestern University.
For the past two and a half years, I have had the honor of
writing the Latino Ed Beat blog and working with
the talented staff at the Education Writers Association.
I have always believed that with education, comes power. This
is especially true for the Latino community. My passion
for writing about the issues facing Latino students was born out
of my own Mexican American background on my mother’s side.
For years, students attending the Los Angeles Unified School
District could earn citations from police officers for behaviors
such as fighting.
The criminalization of routine offenses committed by students now
appears to be coming to an end. The school system announced this
week that it would stop giving citations for such offenses, and
would instead focus on programs for students who misbehave.
The small number of Latino and black students admitted to the
elite high schools of the New York City public school system has
been a source of frustration among civil rights leaders, families
and other advocates for years.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
signed the “Dream Act” last year allowing
some undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as
children to pay in-state tuition at New Jersey’s public
New research challenges the assumption that Latino students who
Serving Institutions are less likely to graduate than their
peers at other colleges and universities. HSIs have undergraduate
enrollments that are at least 25 percent Hispanic.
the graduation rates of Latino and black students attending HSIs
and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in Texas
from 1997 to 2008.
Arizona made national headlines in 2010 with its law banning
ethnic studies in public schools. That move resulted in the
dismantling of the Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican
American Studies program.
Four years later, educators in Texas and California are
trying to drum up support for Latino and ethnic studies programs.
The majority of public school students in both states are
Over the years, studying abroad has become a popular part of the
undergraduate college experience.
But studies show that it is also an experience that many
low-income and minority students do not take part in.
According to the annual
Open Doors Report by the Institute of International
Education, in 2011-12 a record number of American students
studied abroad — 283,332. But more than three-quarters of those
students were white.
A new study published in the journal
Pediatrics finds that low-income Latino and black youth
who attend high-performing schools tend to engage in fewer risky
Researchers surveyed 930 high school students in Los Angeles –
521 who by lottery gained admission to top charter schools, and
409 not offered admission. Researchers noted that both groups
were similar in demographics and in performance on exams in the
In 2004, a group of four undocumented immigrant Latino high
school students accomplished an astonishing achievement.
Competing on a robotics team
formed at Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix, the four young men
defeated students from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of
Technology in an elite robotics competition.
Even in a largely rural state, Latinos are quickly reshaping
A new report reveals
that Kansas public schools are losing white students and adding
Hispanic students — fueling enrollment growth.
The new report by the Kansas Association of School Boards
projects that by 2018-19, Latino students could make up about 22
percent of the state’s student enrollment, while white students
will make up only 60 percent.
Oregon public schools are
struggling to meet teacher diversity hiring goals set by
the state Legislature. The state had set the goal of
increasing the number of minority teachers by 10 percent between
2012 and 2015. But they are currently not on track to achieve
Young people in the United States continue to grow in diversity –
especially when compared against older generations – according to
Notably, in some states there are wide gaps between the
demographics of young people and older Americans. Those gaps can
sometimes cause tensions. Some of those gaps can be attributed to
immigration. However, most of the growth in the Hispanic
population can now be attributed to U.S. births.
Admission to New York City’s top public high schools is based on
performance on a single exam. Whether intended or not, the result
has been a shocking lack of diversity, especially when compared
against the school district’s demographics.
The push for change is building. While former Mayor Michael
Bloomberg backed the exam, newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio
wants to end the single test admissions system.
The single test standard to gain admittance to the elite eight
schools, which include the renowned Stuyvesant High School, has
been in place since 1971.
A California judge on Tuesday issued a preliminary
decision finding that the state’s teacher tenure laws
disproportionately hurt disadvantaged and minority students.
Los Angeles Judge Rolf M. Treu went as far as to write that the
situation “shocks the conscience” and violated students’ civil
rights. The lawsuit alleged that tenure and layoff policies hurt
students by making it harder to get rid of bad teachers.
study by researchers from Stanford University finds
that “book sharing” is less prevalent in immigrant families, most
significantly among Hispanic and Asian families.
Book sharing was defined who read or share picture books with
young children. The findings were based on data from the
California Health Interview Survey of parents with children under
age six in 2005, 2007, and 2009.
A class-action lawsuit filed by
the American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday accuses the
state of California of failing to provide adequate classroom
instructional time to minority and low-income students.
The suit, Cruz v. State of California, was brought by
students who attend seven economically disadvantaged schools in
the state. Schools in Los Angeles and Compton are included in the
lawsuit, as are Bay Area schools.
With the recent 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of
Education Supreme Court decision, civil rights and advocacy
groups issued reports highlighting the continued segregation in
American schools today.
The superintendent of Hamilton Township School District in New
Jersey took the unusual step of posting an online commentary on
the district’s website lamenting de facto segregation in the
school district he leads.
This week, the spirits of undocumented immigrant students were
lifted in two large states: Virginia and Florida.
In Virginia, Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring announced
on Tuesday that students raised in the state but brought into the
country illegally as young children could qualify for in-state
New data shows that the four-year high school graduation rates of
Latino students are steadily increasing, but still lag the
The newly released report from the
National Center for Education Statistics examined four-year rates
in 2010-11 and 2011-12. Between those graduation years the rate
rose for all students from 79 percent to 80 percent.
The rate for Latino students rose from 71 percent in 2010-11 to
73 percent in 2011-12.
report by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil
Rights finds that a Colorado school district created a hostile
environment for Hispanic and Spanish-speaking students, parents
The report also concluded that the Adams 14 district in Commerce City,
a district of about 7,000 students just north of
Denver, did not effectively communicate with parents with limited
Education and civil rights groups are already reacting with
concern to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-2 decision
Tuesday to uphold Michigan’s ban on affirmative action in state
public universities’ admissions.
Many pointed toward the dissenting opinion by Justice
Sonia Sotomayor, who as a Latina raised in a low-income home
has insights into the issue on a personal level.
The states with the largest Latino populations don’t necessarily
have the best track record for graduating Latinos from college, a
new state-by-state analysis shows.
According to the
report from the advocacy group Excelencia in Education, in
2011-12 only about 20 percent of Latinos ages 25 and older had at
least an associate’s degree. The overall population had a much
higher rate, at 36 percent.
Georgia schools are grappling with how to educate growing numbers
of immigrant students, while lacking a history of serving such a
The state faces a new reality of a rapidly growing and youthful
Latino population, without the experience of states such as Texas
A new report from the Migration Policy Institute, “Education
Reform in a Changing America: Promoting High School and College
Success for Immigrant Youth,” concludes that the state still has
a long way to go in meeting the needs of immigrant students.
Hispanic students who attend Los Angeles charter schools make
greater gains in reading and math over the course of a year than
their Hispanic peers in traditional public schools, according to
a new study.
Some south Texas teachers are campaigning for the creation of a
Mexican American Studies curriculum to be taught in the state’s
The El Paso Times reports that the school board of
the Ysleta Independent School District in El Paso voted to urge
the Texas State Board of Education to offer Mexican American
Studies content in literature and history classes pre-K through
Despite having one of the largest Hispanic populations in the
country, Florida legislators have struggled for years to drum up
support for a measure granting in-state tuition to
undocumented immigrant college students.
Now the proposal is beginning to look more within reach. Florida
Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, expressed support for the
measure for the measure this week.
A new study examines the strategies used to improve Latino
students’ access to financial aid in San Antonio, Texas.
The advocacy group Excelencia in Education conducted the study
entitled “The Impact of Financial Aid on Student College Access
and Success: The San Antonio Experience.”
The study highlights the importance of financial aid by noting
that U.S. Census Bureau data from 2011 showed that only 12
percent of Latino adults in San Antonio have an associate’s
degree or higher — in a city that is 72 percent Latino.
It may seem like a paradox: Many Latino and black male students
enter community college with enthusiasm and high aspirations.
However, minority males are less likely to complete their degrees
than their white male counterparts.
HSIs are defined by the federal government as having a full-time
student enrollment that is at least 25 percent Hispanic. In
2012-13, there were 370 HSIs in the country. They enroll about 60
percent of all Latino undergraduate students.
A Kansas state representative wants to begin asking children who
enroll in public schools for proof of citizenship or legal
presence in the United States.
Republican Rep. Allan Rothlisberg said that he wants to track how
much money is spent on educating undocumented immigrants.
Even if he is successful, the 1982 Plyler v. Doe decision
concluded that all children are entitled to a free public
education, no matter their status. Rothlisberg said he is aware
that schools must follow the law.
Four elite California research universities are pooling their
resources to increase the number of Latino and black students
earning PhDs in fields related to science, technology,
engineering and mathematics.
The California Institute of Technology, Stanford University,
University of California-Berkeley, and the University of
California, Los Angeles have pledged to work together to increase
the number of underrepresented minorities earning doctorates in
STEM-related fields. In turn, the universities hope to also
increase the number of minority faculty members in those fields.
Many states are struggling mightily to hire minority teachers who
reflect the growing diversity of their public school
In Iowa, the gap is particularly jarring. According to the
state’s recently released
“2013 Annual Condition of Education” report, in 2012-13 about
20.2 percent of the state’s students were minorities (about 9.3
percent were Hispanic).
Hispanic teens who are better integrated with their
English-speaking and non-Hispanic peers feel better about
themselves and their future prospects than those who are
segregated and less English proficient, a new study finds.
The American Dream narrative is a storyline so deeply embedded in
American popular culture that as writers, we use it often in our
Most journalists who seek to write narrative stories have used
this dream concept before. I framed a story about a young man,
Luis Duarte, from El Salvador who went on to attend Harvard
University, around this theme. He struggled with the decision to
attend Harvard because he worked while in high school to help
financially support his family and he was afraid to leave them
Despite the years of conversation about expanded preschool being
the key to closing achievement gaps,
a new report says that federal funding for children ages zero
to eight is not increasing. In fact, it is trending slightly
Early education is a critical issue for Latinos. They are less
likely to attend preschool than black or Hispanic children.
The Virginia-based nonprofit “Dream Project” provides counseling
and scholarships to undocumented immigrant students so they can
The group is especially important because Virginia does not offer
in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants. The program offers
mentoring, professional and academic activities and scholarships
of about $1,000-$2,000 to deserving students.
Former New York CIty Mayor Michael Bloomberg viewed breaking up
large failing high schools and creating smaller ones as one
potential remedy to closing the achievement gap.
Now his successor, newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio will have
the opportunity to reverse the program.
In a commentary piece for Education Week, University of
California, Berkeley education professor Bruce Fuller writes that
many of the smaller campuses just furthered segregation by race
and class. Small schools sometimes have just 200 students.
Two new reports by The Education Trust recognize universities
that are making the greatest strides in closing achievement gaps
for Latino students.
The first study identifies San Diego State University and the
University of Southern California for significantly increasing
graduation rates among Latino students.
According to the report, the six-year graduation rate for Latino
students who began school in 1996 was 31 percent. The rate for
students who began in 2005 improved to 58.8 percent. At
USC, the graduation rate reached nearly the same level as white
While Latinos are making great strides in taking more Advanced
Placement courses and exams, they still lag significantly in some
For example, while many Hispanic students take AP Spanish
classes, very few are taking computer science. Education Week
reported on an analysis by Georgia Tech scientist Barbara Ericson
of 2013 trends in computer science test-takers. She found that in
eight states, no Hispanic students took the exam,
including Kansas and Nebraska.
Very few Latino and Spanish-speaking students attend the
Cleveland school district’s four science and math specialty high
Indeed, only 130 Hispanic students attend the schools out of the
district’s total Hispanic enrollment of 5,586 Hispanic students.
The disparity was so extreme that it caught the eye of the U.S.
Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). This
week, the office announced an agreement with the district to
remedy the problem.
The specialty high schools have STEM (science, technology,
engineering and mathematics) programs.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder
urged a major overhaul of school discipline policies on
In a joint announcement of new guidelines on the issue, they
sharply criticized school districts that suspend minorities at
disproportionately high rates and also punish students for minor
infractions. They also were critical of infractions being handled
as criminal matters. The announcement was a major takedown of
so-called “zero tolerance” policies.
A new report card grading the well-being of California’s children
concludes the state has a long way to go if it wants to earn an
The advocacy group Children Now has released the “2014 California
Children’s Report Card: How Kids are Doing in Our State and What
Needs to Be Done About It,” which grades the state on 27
indicators. The grades are based around issues related to
education, health and child welfare.
The majority of the state’s public school students are Latino.
Among the different grades assigned in the education section:
Even though Laurel Elementary School in Los Angeles faces
considerable challenges, it boasts an impressive list of
Most Laurel students come from low-income backgrounds, and about
60 percent are English Language Learners. The students have
tended to perform better on math than language arts on California
standardized tests, according to The Hechinger Report.
When Los Angeles Times reporters surveyed California
high schools about how many college recruiters visited the
campuses this fall, they found glaring disparities between rich
While the private The Webb Schools in Claremont was visited by
113 colleges and universities, the public Jefferson High School
in South Los Angeles was visited by just eight recruiters. The
newspaper found that schools with higher numbers of low-income,
Latino and black students received the most visitors.
The state of Missouri does not provide in-state tuition to
undocumented immigrant students by law at its public higher
education institutions — but that isn’t stopping one college from
taking action on its own.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that St. Louis Community
College has decided to offer in-state tuition to undocumented
immigrant students. That will cut the tuition rate from the
international rate of $209 to $98 for students local to the
college’s area and $144 for other Missouri residents.
While Latinos make up the majority of California’s public school
students, they continue to lag white students on academic
California may have more experience working with Latino students
than other states, but that hasn’t translated into better
academic returns. The Associated Press points out that Hispanic
students often attend poorly funded schools with larger class
sizes and fewer academic courses.
New Jersey will finally move forward with allowing some
undocumented immigrants raised in the United States to pay
in-state tuition at public colleges and universities, following a
long tussle back and forth about the legislation.
Students enrolled in school districts in some of the nation’s
largest cities are making significant academic gains that
sometimes even outpaced their peers elsewhere in the nation,
according to new data.
Since 2002, the Trial Urban District Assessment has tracked
student achievement on the National Assessment of Educational
Progress — known as America’s report card. The program has grown
to encompass 21 urban school districts and tracks the performance
of fourth- and eighth-graders in math and reading. The large
districts surveyed volunteer to take part in testing.
A suburban Chicago school district with a Spanish-English dual
language program has proven so popular that it will now be
expanded to the high school level.
The Chicago Tribune reports that North Shore District 112 first
began its program, which serves native English and Spanish
speakers, in 1996. It has grown to 636 students, or 15 percent of
the school district’s enrollment.
Students learn about 80 percent of the time in Spanish at the
younger grade levels in kindergarten through second grade, and
reach half Spanish and half English by about fifth grade.
Hispanic leaders in Nevada are calling attention to an important
education issue that takes place outside of the classroom — the
lack of Hispanic representation on many of the state’s elected
Even in the Clark County School District, where about 44 percent
of the students are Hispanic, there was no Hispanic member until
recently. When a vacancy came open, the board voted to appoint a
Hispanic to the seven-member board earlier this month.
A new study shows that children with parents with high stress
levels have a greater likelihood of being obese.
Voxxi News reports that the findings appear in the journal
Pediatric Obesity and also show that the link is especially
pronounced among Latinos.
The researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto examined the
impact of stress on children’s body mass index, or BMI. Parents
were also asked questions about their stress levels, such as
whether they felt issues were piling up so much they could not
overcome them, PsychCentral reported.
A small Texas town is embroiled in debate after a middle school
principal allegedly told students over a public address system
that they would not be allowed to speak Spanish in class.
Hempstead Middle School Principal Amy Lacey is now on paid
administrative leave while the Hempstead Independent School
District investigates the incident, KHOU reported. According to
the Texas Education Agency, about 53 percent of the school’s 206
students were Hispanic in the 2011-12 school year.
Sometimes even preschool is too late to effectively intervene and
boost the achievement levels of low-income Latino children.
But home visiting programs bring school into the home, and help
parents become their child’s first teacher. A recent report by
the Latino Policy Forum, “Primeros Pasos,” shows how such
programs are making a positive difference in Illinois.
Latina teens who are bilingual, have Hispanic teachers and
counselors, and are involved in extracurricular activities have a
stronger likelihood of attending college, a new study has found.
The report, “Making Education Work for Latinas in the U.S.,” was
conducted by The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles
at the University of California, Los Angeles, and commissioned by
the actress Eva Longoria and her foundation.
A growing number of school districts and universities are working
together to push more Latino youth to pursue a college education.
At the same time, school districts also are seeking to boost
Latino parent involvement.
A program called Juntos, which means “together” in Spanish,
tackles both goals. The program originated at North Carolina
State University and now is being replicated at middle and high
schools in several states. It is intended for students in the
eighth- through twelfth-grades.
Hispanic parents who are recent immigrants experience higher
levels of stress than U.S.-born Hispanic parents and immigrant
parents who have been in the United States for a longer period of
time, according to a new study by researchers at the University
of California, Los Angeles.
Study after study shows that Latino and black students tend to be
suspended at much higher rates than white students.
Yet another study recently grabbed news headlines making the same
findings. In “Beyond Zero Tolerance,” the American Civil
Liberties Union of Pennsylvania found that ten of every 100
Latino students in the state have received out-of-school
suspensions at least once.
Latino students are three times more likely than white students
to be suspended. Researchers concluded that Pennsylvania has one
of the highest out-of-school suspension rates in the nation.
The Seattle Public Schools system is using an international
schools model in an effort to focus on helping English language
learners and students learning other languages.
The system’s international schools are taking a dual-language
approach that allows students to study in their core subject
areas in their primary and secondary language. A recent report by
the group Alliance for Excellent Education credits the school
system with creating a network of programs that is assisting ELLs
with their language development.
A recent report offers a snapshot of how Latino infants and
toddlers are faring compared to their peers.
The McCormick Foundation and Child Trends offer some insights
through the report, “The Youngest Americans: A Statistical
Portrait of Infants and Toddlers in the United States.”
Among the most concerning findings — Latino toddlers are half as
likely to be read to as their white peers. Additionally, they are
a third less likely to be sung to or have stories told to them,
another indicator that assists with language development.
New Jersey is moving closer to passing legislation that would
give undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as
children the ability to pay in-state tuition and receive
financial aid at state colleges and universities.
On Thursday, a state Senate committee voted to approve the
legislation, sending it to a full vote next week.
Latino high school graduates in California choose to enroll in
community college at much higher rates than other groups — even
those who graduate from the state’s top high schools.
About one out of three Latino graduates chooses community
college, compared with about one out of four white, black and
Additionally, about 46 percent of Latino graduates from the top
10 percent of California high schools enroll in community
colleges — compared with 27 percent of whites, 23 percent of
blacks, and 19 percent of Asians.