I read another article in the Chronicle recently that asked if culture was to blame in the lack of education in the Hispanic community. The article was written because of a recent study that said that there is a direct correlation between education and wealth in the Hispanic community in Texas. (as if that's hard to figure out) This report said in a nutshell that if Hispanics don't become educated and active members of the community then this state is in danger of being populated by very poor uneducated people that will rely on financial aid. So seeing that many Hispanics enrolled in college this fall gives us hope.
Then I read this article about how Hispanics don't utilize financial aid like they should. When I read this it reminded me of the Chronicle article about Hispanics and culture and how the writer asked if it our culture was to blame. I loved the answer that Rice University sociologist Steven Klineberg gave to this question.
“It's the easy answer. It's the self-serving answer,” says Rice University sociologist Steven Klineberg. “The beauty and the danger of the cultural explanation is that it allows you, the middle-class Anglo, to get off the hook. If it really isn't culture, if they really do want an education, then we have to provide the resources.”
So yes, the resources are there. Do Hispanics know they are? Not all the time. I remember that when I was in high school my counselor was not really engaged in where I was going to college or whether I had scholarships. I applied for financial aid because thank goodness I had sisters who went to college before me and I knew that was the thing to do. But I remember having conversations with other Hispanic friends around my age who said they couldn't go to college because of the cost. I know now that I could have applied for a lot more scholarships than I did. I didn't know about all the scholarships available back then.
Money is left out there because kids don't always know about it. One great thing about technology is that now kids have the resources to find out this information on the internet. We didn't have internet when I graduated from high school. But still, even with the internet kids don't know where to look and first generation and second generation parents many times don't know either.
And where does it all start? It starts in elementary school with reading skills. An article on this subject shows that poor reading skills trap children in poverty. The article points out that "82 percent of Hispanic students in schools with low or moderate rates of families living in poverty do not read at grade level. "
The place to start is in elementary school with reading. Mentor a low income child and help him or her with their reading. Then continue this in high school encouraging them to make college plans and researching scholarships and financial aid. Once they get to college Hispanic students need mentors and a support system to help them make it through and to graduate.
If we want to make a difference this is one thing we can do to enourage them and to ensure that Texas has an educated and financially sound community in the future.