ChildTrends Hispanic Institute research scientists highlighted findings from their Sept. 24 statistical report in a webinar, explaining the changing landscapes of Latino children’s lives: rapidly increasing population, low income levels, close-knit families, developing academics, declining health and rising media use.
“Inequities that persist for this community are not just a Latino issue, they’re an American issue,” declared Maribel Duran, Chief of Staff for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.
Panelists pinpointed education as an area of vast improvement; hispanics are now experiencing their lowest-ever high school dropout rates and highest-ever college enrollment rates. But panelists said policy changes and cultural sensitivity to issues like dual language learning could boost progress where Hispanics lag behind: in kindergarten-readiness and college graduation.
“Getting Latino children and families engaged in the classroom doesn’t necessarily have to be a multi-million dollar program,” remarked Lina Guzman, one of the report’s authors. “It could be a few words spoken in Spanish in the classroom, or holding parent-teacher conferences at different hours since many Hispanic parents work multiple jobs.”
Researcher David Murphey said the new data show that the public policy discussion on Latino life in America needs to be re-routed. “Undocumented immigration is really a footnote and should not be driving this conversation,” he asserted.
With a fifth of Latino youth facing obesity and nearly a third living below the poverty line, there are other clear priorities for policymakers and educators to focus on, he added.
Find key data points here.