Hispanics in Higher Education

Higher education is taking on added importance as the baby boom generation begins to retire. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education are tackling the issues.

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The Hispanic population continues to grow across the nation and in Texas. Making sure this population is getting the education needed to compete in the global economy is the issue. Excelencia in Education President Doctor Sarita Brown ...

"I'm not a demographer but we've not had a scenario where such a key leadership component if you will is at one discreet chunk of time, the next 15 years, withdrawing from professional life. While every, as I said, young person is important it isn't going to be the three year old that's going to take that position, it's going to be today's high school student, tomorrow's college student."

Brown says the focus needs to be on colleges.

"We have to look at what's happening in colleges because those are the students who are already there, we've already invested to get them there and do all that we can so they become baccalaureate recipients and step into those vacancies."

Brown says Latino students tend to come from poorer backgrounds that affect their higher education choices.

"They're going to pick a scenario that allows them to continue to contribute as young people to their families and go to school. That means they make choices to work and go to school. They make choices to go to school close to home."

Brown says this can have negative consequences.

"The scenario means they are not in the institutions that have the most ample financial aid where it's easy for them to live in the dorm and go to school. They have to juggle a lot. These are not characteristics that are exclusive to Latino, but they are dominate among first generation Latino students."

Brown says many students face this challenge, but she says it's more widespread among Latinos. Texas Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes says this state has made some progress.

"the picture of Latino education in Texas is that we are getting better results in terms of absolute numbers. That is to say we have a larger number of Latino students who are graduating from high school. We have a larger number of Latino students who are going to college and graduating. But relative to the growth of the Latino population by some indicators we are actually falling behind."

Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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