Immigrant Latinos are less likely to finish a high school education and pursue a college degree due to financial pressure to support a family and/or poor English skills, according to a national survey of Latinos by the Pew Hispanic Center. About 78% of Latinos have a desire to pursue a higher education, however, only half of them say that they will do so, because of family struggles and not enough resources at school.
Foreign-born Latinos have responsibilities toward their families in the United States or in their native countries. Nearly 64% of the young immigrant Latinos in the U.S. have to send money back to their family members in a foreign country. Also, many Latinas have the obligation to take care of their younger siblings.
Newcomers are likely to struggle with a new language, and some parents of these newcomers do not see education as a pathway to success in life. Without this support, Latinos lose the motivation and the encouragement to keep going to school. For this reason, educators could play an important role in Latinos’ education. Teachers could persuade these students to pursue higher education and provide them with adequate resources to succeed in school.
Unfortunately, schools do not have enough teachers who are prepared to help these students, due to low expectations. Teachers tend to think that Latino students will not succeed at school.
For this reason, Latino students face barriers and have a hard time shattering them because students tend to believe in their teachers’ words. Nonetheless, Latino teachers could understand their students’ struggles because they may have faced the same discrimination while they were teenagers.
That’s why Latino educators could be role models: because they share the same cultural backgrounds and experiences. Also, Spanish speakers could communicate to their students’ families, and make the students’ parents be part of their children’s education. A Latino teacher could encourage students to do better at school and make them think that they can do it.
In the Huffington Post article, “Latino Teachers Needed for Classroom Role Models,” Joy Resmovits writes, “The sense that shared cultural backgrounds is a bellwether for classroom motivation is making the U.S. government and influential education organizations seriously examine the disparity between the exploding number of Latino students in classrooms and the small number of Latino teachers leading them.” About 27% of the students are Latinos and only 7% of teachers are Latinos. There’s a 20% gap between faculty and students. The government is trying to encourage more Latinos to get a credential to teach; however, many are discouraged due to lack of expectation that they can make a difference.
“The Latino community is a key growing demographic in the United States,” states Maria, who immigrated to the U.S. from El Salvador.
Therefore, the United States’ government and educators should take these issues more seriously, and create programs that encourage Latinos to become teachers. Also, the educational system should provide support by creating programs to encourage and to help immigrant students to learn English and avoid stereotyping students. After all, they are an important key for the United States’ economy.