A report released last week by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF) examines the high dropout rate of Latina high school students. The report found that 41 percent of Latina students do not graduate from high school in four years with a standard diploma, according to a NWLC press release.
Through surveys, focus groups and interviews, the study found that Latina students have high aspirations. A vast majority of the students surveyed said they valued education, with 98 percent desiring to graduate from high school and 80 percent hoping to graduate from college. The study found barriers to these achievements include poverty, immigration status, lack of parental involvement, limited English proficiency and schools with limited resources. Latinas also face the highest teen pregnancy rates of any ethnic group, and, according to the study, this causes many to leave school.
Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President of the NWLC, told Newsday that women without a high school diploma face more challenges than men who do not earn one. Women “face a lifetime of lower earnings and higher rates of unemployment. Children of women who drop out are more likely to drop out themselves, continuing the cycle.”
The report (see PDF) presents recommendations for actions schools and policymakers can take to help Latina students succeed. These recommendations include offering dual language programs for English Language Learners, creating parental involvement initiatives, creating a federal program to support comprehensive sex education, and funding initiatives to support pregnant or parenting students.