A new study by the Pew Research Center has shown that Latinos in the United States were most likely to rank education as “extremely important” to their lives. 57% of those polled found education as the most important, with 52% stating the economy and 32% saying immigration.
“The study opens up the stereotype that Latinos are only concerned with the issue of immigration,” said Abril Trigo, director of the Center of Latin American Studies at Ohio State University. “For Latinos — people who are legal citizens — education is important because it looks to forward the future of our kids. But Latinos are not only migrants, they are people, too, and have concerns not just about migration.”
The lowest Latino high school graduation rate was 53% in 2012 in Worthington City Schools in Ohio.
“For many parents, the American education system is unfamiliar territory, but the community is aware that you can’t move forward unless education is present,” said Ramona Reyes, the first Latina member of the Columbus Board of Education.
Reyes said making resources available for parents who are first-generation immigrants is important so they know what schooling and education options are open for their children. For example, Columbus City Schools has phone and written communications it sends out in English, Spanish and Somali.
The Pew study says that education’s rank as a top issue makes sense because 33 percent of the Latino population in the U.S. is of school age compared with 20 percent of whites.
Also in the Pew study researchers Richard Fry and Paul Taylor show that in 2012 the percentage of Hispanic high school graduates enrolling in four-year colleges or universities nationwide were higher than the number of white students enrolling in college after graduating high school.