To the Editor:
Your Sept. 2, 2009, article on the challenges facing Latina students in school (“Report Probes Educational Challenges Facing Latinas”) gives a false impression of the Latino education gap (the difference in educational attainment by Latinos on the one hand, and whites and Asian/Pacific Islanders on the other).
In education, both nationally and here in California, Latinas far outpace their brothers in our community. In the nation, our daughters represent 48.9 percent of our education cohort (birth to age 29), yet they are 58.5 percent of our university students and receive 61.1 percent of Latino B.A.s, 64.5 percent of Latino M.A.s, and 56.2 percent of Latino Ph.D.s.
In California, Latinas also do better than their male counterparts. They represent 48.8 percent of all Latino K-12 students, but are 53.3 percent of Latino high school graduates, 61.3 percent of Latino first-time freshmen at the University of California and California State University, and 61.5 percent of Latino students at those institutions; they earn 62.9 percent of Latino B.A.s, 67.2 percent of Latino M.A.s, and 54.1 percent of Latino Ph.D.s.
Any newspaper article or academic study that fails to take into account the problems facing all Latino students does the Latino community a disservice.
In 2006, the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, in a report to the California Postsecondary Education Commission, reported that between 2000 and 2020, California will lose $191.6 billion in personal income due to the undereducation of African-Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans. Since African-American males do even worse than Latino males relative to their sisters, the vast majority of this lost personal income will be due to the undereducation of males.
In the last decades of the 20th century, we helped our daughters overcome the educational challenges facing them. Now, in the first decade of the 21st, we must help our sons.
North Hollywood, Calif.
(The writer is the chair of the California Postsecondary Education Commission.)
A version of this article appeared in the September 23, 2009 edition of Education Week as Latino School Challenges Extend Beyond Latinas