PBS Documentary Highlights Successes And Failures Of Hispanic Students In America

For the first time, America is on track to meet the national goal of attaining a 90% graduation rate by the year 2020. Despite the gains, America still loses about 1 out of 5 young people to the dropout crisis each year. The Graduates/Los Graduados — a new two-part special from filmmaker Bernardo Ruiz — explores the many roots of the Latino dropout crisis through the eyes of six young students from across the United States.

"What we wanted to do is look at diverse group of students from districts across the country, both urban and rural districts, and look at the challenges they're facing, but also to examine the projects and programs that are helping this group of students successfully get to not only graduation day, but college and beyond."

While graduation rates are improving among Hispanic or Latino 16-to-24 year olds, he says one of the realities facing any young adult is an economic one.

"Many of the young people in the series have to work. So the economic reality facing young Latinos and Latinas is something that we can't walk away from. Which is why some of the after-school programs, some of the projects that are really providing resources to students, like College Prep for instance — it's why those are so key."

He says oftentimes the Latino community is painted with one brush, which creates a misconception.

"We often don't hear from Latino youth, so really one of the things that I wanted to do is just highlight the successes of students, not in some "Pollyanna-ish" way but really in an authentic way, show how students are succeeding, and what support they've had that have gotten them there."

The Graduates/Los Graduados premiers at 9 p.m. tonight on Houston-PBS Channel 8.

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