The rising tide of Latino students in Texas schools recently hit a major milestone with a new study revealing Hispanic kids now enjoy majority status with 51.3 percent of enrollment.
In the last 10 years from 2002-2003 to 2012-2013 weve seen a growth of almost 800,000 new Hispanic students in our classrooms, Texas Education Agency [TEA] Information Specialist Lauren Callahan told VOXXI. Its a safe assumption that number is going to grow.
In fact, it turns out another recently released study is suggesting the estimated Latino enrollment by 2050 will represent nearly two-thirds of all Lone Star State students.
So the question has to be asked, how will Texas adjust its educational approach to better accommodate what will then be an overwhelming majority of students that today are under-served?
The TEA, which boasts a mission to provide leadership, guidance and resources to help schools meet the educational needs of all students and prepare them for success in the global economy, is the administrative unit for primary and secondary public education in the state.
The group, which is under the guidance of the commissioner of education, serves many roles, including administering the distribution of state and federal funding to public schools, as well as managing the statewide assessment program and accountability system.
When asked how TEA will better serve the Latino students of the future, Callahan said, Wed do what weve been doing all along, which is doing our best to make sure those students are learning what theyre supposed to be learning. Were focusing on student achievement.
One group that will keep a close eye on not only student achievement but also ensuring all students have access to an excellent and equitable public education is the San Antonio-based Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA).
IDRA Senior Education Associate Laurie Posner tells VOXXI that Texas current education polices are failing to meet the obligation to provide Latino students with a promising education and bright future.
Even though we know children who attend high-quality pre-K do better in school not just in kindergarten but through post-secondary fewer Latino students are enrolled in nursery school, Pre-K or kindergarten, Posner said. Were not doing spectacularly with any group of students, but particularly students arent being prepared as well as they need to be.
She added that testing reveals with 4th grade reading about 15 percent of Latino students are scoring at or above proficient level compared to 46 percent of white students. Furthermore, 8th grade mathematic scores find 30 percent of Latino students scoring at or above proficient compared to 52 percent of white students.
Every indicator you look at from graduation rates to math to reading and early childhood education, we are still under-preparing Latino students in not providing either an equitable or a high-quality education across the board, Posner said. There already is a trajectory across the country of rising inequity, and we want to be sure that that is not deepened in Texas.
She added, We face a grim future of a widening disparity because the best jobs will require students are well prepared.
Despite the current woes, Posner said she does remain optimistic change is coming at grassroots levels. Also, IDRA is working on family leadership and community leadership strategies, as well as partnership with local schools.
Areas that require change include the school finance system, which she said needs to assure equity for students across districts to address intradistrict disparities. Basically, students from both sides of the track should have access to high-quality teachers and curricula.
Im hopeful and I do see movement absolutely afoot around this, Posner said. I think family leadership is a key piece of it, and partnership with schools. We need to assure its not patchwork and that it reaches students communities across the state.