I suppose you could consider this an expansion of my previous post about where I come from, and the experiences that led me to HGSE.
My experiences have shaped who I am and drive a lot of the work I do. They are what propel me to continue moving toward the future.
It really hits home when I read or hear about the low college completion rates for minorities. According to a report by Excelencia in Education, only 20% of Latino adults in the US have attained an Associate’s degree or higher in 2011-2012. Furthermore, in most states, there is a huge gap between the number of Latinos who have a degree compared to the rest of the population. Below is a screenshot but I highly recommend you check out the report to interact with the map to learn about specific states.
In my home state, California, only 16% of Latinos had an Associate’s degree or higher, compared to 38% of all adults.
This really gets to me because I could have very easily fallen into the percentage of those Latinos who didn’t attain a degree at all. It’s very easy for statistics to make certain behaviors or actions acceptable. Not everyone does this, and I don’t mean to generalize, but I know from experience that some people don’t have as high expectations from minorities. We lower the bar for our minority students because we don’t always believe they can be academically successful. There was a recent article about this in the Huffington Post about a study that suggested teachers expect less from Black and Latino students.
A quote from the article:
Teachers thought a college degree was 47 percent less likely for African-American students than for white peers, and 53 percent less likely for low-income students than for students from more affluent families. Teachers thought Hispanic students were 42 percent less likely than white students to graduate from college, the study found.
This may not be deliberate. On some level, perhaps the statistics have painted a certain picture, and it’s just become a norm.
That’s the challenge, I feel. As a minority, the world perceives you differently. The odds are against you. I can see why so many students may feel that college or academic success is not an attainable goal for them. If no one believes in you, why should you believe in yourself?
What can make a difference? Challenging the statistics. When I think back to my schooling experience, I realize that the best teachers I had were those who had high expectations for all students, regardless of race or background. The teachers who pushed their students even when they failed, and told students they could do better even if they were doing okay.
On the other hand, if you have a teacher who easily gives up on you or lowers their expectations when you are struggling, you start lowering expectations of yourself. You stop trying as much. You become a victim to stereotype threat, something we read about in Whistling Vivaldi this summer.
The other set of statistics that shocks me are those that surround victims of childhood sexual abuse. I don’t think I mentioned this in my previous post because I wasn’t sure if that was too much information to share. The more I think about it, though, is that if I’m not talking about these things, then I’m contributing to the problem because these are things that need to be discussed.
Trigger warning: the rest of this post contains information that may be sensitive to others.