Cronkite-Carnegie Initiative

Julian Sodari is in his third year at Arizona State University working toward his bachelor's degree in urban planning.

Claudia Fabian is enrolled in a nursing program at Scottsdale Community College.

Jose Zavala is a senior at the ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Before they even complete their college education, all three have already beaten the odds.

Young Latino males are almost three times as likely to be incarcerated than they are to ever step foot in a university dormitory, according to Luis Ponjuan and Victor B. Sáenz, assistant professors at the University of Florida and the University of Texas at Austin respectively. And young Latina females have just more than a 50 percent chance of becoming pregnant before turning 20 years old, according to estimates by the National Council of La Raza's

Institute for Hispanic Health.

The United States Census reported Latinos as the fastest-growing minority in the country, representing just more than 15 percent of the population by the end of 2008. By 2050, that percentage is projected to double. In Arizona, Latinos already represent almost a third of the state's population.

Those numbers translate into Latinos constituting the populous minority in the U.S. education system. But the numbers don't transfer to higher education. Upon completing their degrees, Fabian, Sodari and Zavala will be among only 19 percent of


Latino adults who have earned an associate degree or higher, according to a 2010 report by Excelencia in Education.

In comparison, almost 40 percent of whites, more than a quarter of African Americans, and almost two-thirds of Asians held an associate degree or higher as of 2008. As the country's Latino population continues to grow – the U.S. Census Bureau projects nearly 60 million Latinos will live in the U.S. by 2020 – the need to focus on Latinos' education can't be ignored, said Eugene Garcia, vice president of Education Partnerships for ASU, said this couldn't be ignored.

"If you have 25 to 30 percent of your kids essentially failing, not being able to compete, not being able to essentially get in a globally competitive—now—circumstance, then we, as a country are going to be highly placed at risk," said Garcia, a former Clinton administration official and a member of President Obama's education transition team.

In the 21st century, the global job market demands advanced skills.

"We talk a lot about how the college degree has really becoming like the high school degree now," Juan Sepúlveda, director of the White House Initiative on Education

In the 21st century, the global job market demands advanced skills. "We talk a lot about how the college degree has really becoming like the high school degree now," Juan Sepúlveda, director of the White House Initiative on Education

Excellence for Hispanics, said at the Young Latino Male Symposium in Phoenix last October. "That's the minimum you're really going to need to be successful." According to a study performed by the College Board, the United States is ranked twelfth for the largest percentage of its population having a college degree. Canada is ranked No. 1, a position held by the U.S. just more than a decade ago. The low college-completion rate


threatens the U.S. position as a leading economic power.

"Education has become for President Obama, and for our administration, our long-term strategy for jobs," Sepúlveda said.

In order to remain competitive, Obama has set a goal for the United States to reclaim the top spot by 2020. Sepúlveda said the Obama administration would need an estimated 8.2 million more college graduates and 3.7 million more high school graduates in order to meet the president's ambitious goal.

Estimates by Excelencia in Education set the bar even higher: The U.S. would need 13.4 million degrees to reach the president's attainment goal, of which 3.3 million would have to be earned by the Latino community.

But as of today, combined full-time and part-time Latino college students total 2.2 million, the director said.

"We have the biggest potential set of numbers, but there are just a few of us going to college," said Sepúlveda. "We are doing the worst of all the groups in terms of where we are right now."

And it's even worse for Latino males.

In 2004, almost 29 percent of males aged 16- to 24-year-olds dropped out of high school, compared with approximately 19 percent of Latinas, Ponjuan and Sáenz said.

Potential setbacks develop early.

Sepúlveda said Latinos make up 25 percent of children at the pre-kindergarten age level, but only about half are actually enrolled in an early-learning program.

"What that means is our kids are showing up to kindergarten, and they're already behind," he said.

Historically, early-education enrollment statistics have shown that Latino males are even more behind. According to data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics, the Latino male presence in early-childhood education programs not only has been lower when compared with other ethnic groups, but in comparison with Latinas.

While this enrollment gap seemed to close in 2006, an achievement gap remained. In scholarly journals and at Young Latino Male symposium held at ASU in October , Ponjuan and Sáenz contend gender stereotypes develop because originally it was believed that the school system favored boys. This caused a greater focus on female students.

It was perceived that females required more attention and nurturing than boys, because males were able to "fend for themselves."

"It's become so common place that boys are kind of muddling through in those early grade levels now and girls are excelling," Saenz said at the symposium. "It's become such an expection that young girls actually have a saying for it and the is, 'Girls rule; boys drool.'"

This idea – the "boy code" – is caused by social expectations of males to be strong and independent. Because of this, boys don't often ask for help when they are struggling in school in an effort to conceal their lack of "academic confidence."

A child's pattern of learning is established by the third grade. If young males are turned off from school at an early age, it will be more difficult for them to be motivated later in their academic career.

Although the "boy code" gives rise to poor academic confidence in young men of all ethnicities, this idea is emphasized within Latino males because of the cultural concept known as


"machismo," or excessive masculinity, Saenz said.

Males take on the role of provider and serve as the head of the family in the Latino community. They represent a strong sense of stability. This may deter young Latino males from achieving academic success because they may be expected to enter the workforce to financially support their families or keep Latino males from seeking aid if they are having trouble in school.

By middle school, the rising influence of peers may lead to rationalizing poor academic performance y contending doing well in school means they are "acting white," Saenz said.

The idea of "acting white or selling out…is particularly an issue among urban youth," Saenz said. He noted some researchers have "seen it as a defense mechanism of young men to say, 'Well you know, I don't want to be smart; that's acting white."

All of pre-school, elementary and middle school roadblocks lead to academic achievement disparity is even more evident in high school and post-secondary education statistics.

In 2008, data from the Pew Hispanic Research Center reported 39 percent of Latino males drop out of high school, compared with 35 percent of females. Latino males accounted for 37 percent of associate degrees and 39 percent of bachelor's degrees awarded to Latino students in 2009, Sáenz said at the symposium. For those who do not continue on to earn a degree, many find placement in low-wage jobs or in an increasingly alarming trend, are incarcerated. Educators and researchers say action is needed immediately to remedy the education gaps throughout the Latino community. And while the 2020 goal has brought awareness to the issues inhibiting the academic success of Latinos, efforts to combat it are lacking.

"This is something that's been around in our community for a long time where we kind of hate to say it, but we've accepted the horrible dropout rates that are happening within our public school


system," Sepúlveda said. "But the question is, how do we really turn things around?" Sepúlveda suggests looking into community partnerships because "folks know their communities best."

In Arizona, solutions are more necessary than ever since Latinos represent more than 400,000 students in the state, a growth rate of 86 percent since 1998. ASU's Garcia, who has been a leading advocate for early childhood education, said that "the best programs we know that work are dual-language programs." Dual-language programs immerse students in a bilingual curriculum. Fabian, Zavala and Sodari all have succeeded in getting to college but all had different instructional experiences.

Fabian said she was held back a year when she first arrived from Mexico. She only spoke Spanish but was receiving instruction in English at Tonalea Elementary School.

"A lot of people actually get held back a year so they can learn the language," she said.

Zavala said he was brought up to speak both languages but felt there was little encouragement to use his native language in school.

"It's funny, getting in to college where they really encourage you to be bilingual," he said. "It's like 'Wait a second, in public school it's kind of frowned upon if you speak Spanish.'"

At Lowell Elementary, Sodari didn't learn English until the third grade.

"Up until then I was taking Spanish classes," he said. "Everything was offered in Spanish."

All three were able to succeed and enroll in higher education, but Sodari's integration was easier because he was taught in his native language. A dual-language program for grades K-5 recently began at the Kyrene de Los Niños Elementary, a predominantly Latino school in Tempe.


The Kyrene de los Niños Elementary School is a No Excuses University. Schools in the network emphasize going to college beginning at the pre-K level. Kyrene is only one of four No Excuses Universities in the Arizona area and was the first in the greater Phoenix area.

Just this past year, the school implemented a college-bound, dual-language academy pre-school program for 3-to-5-year-olds called Bienvenidos.

"We have 3- and 4-year-olds who are already talking about college," said principal Ana Gomez del Castillo.

While Garcia doesn't believe the state of Arizona will be a large contributor to the president's 2020 goal, he said programs like the Niños Dual Language College Bound Academy may be a step in the right direction for the state and the nation as a whole.

"Have we solved this issue? No," he said. "Are we debating about it? Yes."Excellence for Hispanics, said at the Young Latino Male Symposium in Phoenix last October. "That's the minimum you're really going to need to be successful." According to a study performed by the College Board, the United States is ranked twelfth for the largest percentage of its population having a college degree. Canada is ranked

No. 1, a position held by the U.S. just more than a decade ago. The low college-completion rate threatens the U.S. position as a leading economic power.

"Education has become for President Obama, and for our administration, our long-term strategy for jobs," Sepúlveda said.

In order to remain competitive, Obama has set a goal for the United States to reclaim the top spot by 2020. Sepúlveda said the Obama administration would need an estimated 8.2 million more college graduates and 3.7 million more high school graduates in order to meet the president's ambitious goal.

Estimates by Excelencia in Education set the bar even higher: The U.S. would need 13.4 million degrees to reach the president's attainment goal, of which 3.3 million would have to be earned by the Latino community.

But as of today, combined full-time and part-time Latino college students total 2.2 million, the director said. And it's even worse for Latino males.

In 2004, almost 29 percent of males aged 16- to 24-year-olds dropped out of high school, compared with approximately 19 percent of Latinas, Ponjuan and Sáenz said.

Potential setbacks develop early.

Sepúlveda said Latinos make up 25 percent of children at the pre-kindergarten age level, but only about half are actually enrolled in an early-learning program.

"What that means is our kids are showing up to kindergarten, and they're already behind," he said.

Historically, early-education enrollment statistics have shown that Latino males are even more behind. According to data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics, the Latino male presence in early-childhood education programs not only has been lower when compared with other ethnic groups, but in comparison with Latinas.

While this enrollment gap seemed to close in 2006, an achievement gap remained. In scholarly journals and at Young Latino Male symposium held at ASU in October , Ponjuan and Sáenz contend gender stereotypes develop because originally it was believed that the school system favored boys. This caused a greater focus on female students.

It was perceived that females required more attention and nurturing than boys, because males were able to "fend for themselves."

"It's become so common place that boys are kind of muddling through in those early grade levels now and girls are excelling," Saenz said at the symposium. "It's become such an expection that young girls actually have a saying for it and the is, 'Girls rule; boys drool.'"

This idea – the "boy code" – is caused by social expectations of males to be strong and independent. Because of this, boys don't often ask for help when they are struggling in school in an effort to conceal their lack of "academic confidence."

A child's pattern of learning is established by the third grade. If young males are turned off from school at an early age, it will be more difficult for them to be motivated later in their academic career.

Although the "boy code" gives rise to poor academic confidence in young men of all ethnicities, this idea is emphasized within Latino males because of the cultural concept known as "machismo," or excessive masculinity, Saenz said.

Males take on the role of provider and serve as the head of the family in the Latino community. They represent a strong sense of stability. This may deter young Latino males from achieving academic success because they may be expected to enter the workforce to financially support their families or keep Latino males from seeking aid if they are having trouble in school.

By middle school, the rising influence of peers may lead to rationalizing poor academic performance y contending doing well in school means they are "acting white," Saenz said.

The idea of "acting white or selling out…is particularly an issue among urban youth," Saenz said. He noted some researchers have "seen it as a defense mechanism of young men to say, 'Well you know, I don't want to be smart; that's acting white."

All of pre-school, elementary and middle school roadblocks lead to academic achievement disparity is even more evident in high school and post-secondary education statistics.

In 2008, data from the Pew Hispanic Research Center reported 39 percent of Latino males drop out of high school, compared with 35 percent of females. Latino males accounted for 37 percent of associate degrees and 39 percent of bachelor's degrees awarded to Latino students in 2009, Sáenz said at the symposium. For those who do not continue on to earn a degree, many find placement in low-wage jobs or in an increasingly alarming trend, are incarcerated. Educators and researchers say action is needed immediately to remedy the education gaps throughout the Latino community. And while the 2020 goal has brought awareness to the issues inhibiting the academic success of Latinos, efforts to combat it are lacking.

"This is something that's been around in our community for a long time where we kind of hate to say it, but we've accepted the horrible dropout rates that are happening within our public school system," Sepúlveda said. "But the question is, how do we really turn things around?" Sepúlveda suggests looking into community partnerships because "folks know their communities best."

In Arizona, solutions are more necessary than ever since Latinos represent more than 400,000 students in the state, a growth rate of 86 percent since 1998. ASU's Garcia, who has been a leading advocate for early childhood education, said that "the best programs we know that work are dual-language programs." Dual-language programs immerse students in a bilingual curriculum. Fabian, Zavala and Sodari all have succeeded in getting to college but all had different instructional experiences.

Fabian said she was held back a year when she first arrived from Mexico. She only spoke Spanish but was receiving instruction in English at Tonalea Elementary School.

"A lot of people actually get held back a year so they can learn the language," she said.

Zavala said he was brought up to speak both languages but felt there was little encouragement to use his native language in school.

"It's funny, getting in to college where they really encourage you to be bilingual," he said. "It's like 'Wait a second, in public school it's kind of frowned upon if you speak Spanish.'"

At Lowell Elementary, Sodari didn't learn English until the third grade.

"Up until then I was taking Spanish classes," he said. "Everything was offered in Spanish."

All three were able to succeed and enroll in higher education, but Sodari's integration was easier because he was taught in his native language. A dual-language program for grades K-5 recently began at the Kyrene de Los Niños Elementary, a predominantly Latino school in Tempe. The Kyrene de los Niños Elementary School is a No Excuses University. Schools in the network emphasize going to college beginning at the pre-K level. Kyrene is only one of four No Excuses Universities in the Arizona area and was the first in the greater Phoenix area.

Just this past year, the school implemented a college-bound, dual-language academy pre-school program for 3-to-5-year-olds called Bienvenidos.

"We have 3- and 4-year-olds who are already talking about college," said principal Ana Gomez del Castillo.

While Garcia doesn't believe the state of Arizona will be a large contributor to the president's 2020 goal, he said programs like the Niños Dual Language College Bound Academy may be a step in the right direction for the state and the nation as a whole.

"Have we solved this issue? No," he said. "Are we debating about it? Yes."