Task force plan focuses on education
Associated Press, August 17, 2002
The Ohio Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs report is aimed
at defining the problems in
educating the state's rapidly
growing Hispanic population and
proposing solutions to legislators and Gov. Bob Taft.
The report is based on national and statewide studies and
meetings with educators, students
and parents. The commission is
expected to approve it in September.
While some of the recommendations sound basic, even obvious,
officials say that for cultural reasons, the
effects of doing them or not are dramatic among
The draft report recommends to:
Improve parental involvement in children's education.
Educators and Hispanic leaders say Hispanics often devalue
education. They say parents need to become
active in their children's
education by supporting their accomplishments, checking
homework and making sure their
children go to school.
Face-to-face communication is essential with Hispanic parents.
It also may take repeated contacts
to develop trust, and educators must
be careful not to make parents feel
as if they're being judged.
Schools should offer a flexible structure for working
students, because many must help
support their families. Nationally,
nearly two of five Hispanic students live in poverty,
according to the report.
Provide bilingual information and
services to families.
Increase Hispanic enrollment in early childhood programs.
Children who attend preschool tend to do better in school, but
relatively few Hispanics attend, educators
Nationally, only 20 percent of Hispanic children attend
preschool, compared with 42 percent
of whites and 44 percent of blacks,
according to the report.
Establish mentor programs.
Students in such programs during the 2000 school year improved
64 percent in academic performance,
67 percent in school preparedness,
77 percent in class participation
and 61 percent in classroom behavior,
according to the report. Youths in such programs also
are less likely to use drugs or alcohol, be involved in
violence and carry weapons, the report
Increase the numbers of Hispanic and bilingual teachers,
counselors and aides, with a
preference for native Spanish
Heighten awareness among school personnel about Hispanic
culture and issues.
Turn being bilingual into an asset - for example, use students
as teacher aides.
Seek more state funding for English as a Second Language
Provide extra help for students who are falling behind.
Increased data collection on related issues, including
tracking graduations. According to
the report, Ohio's dropout figures
may be inaccurate - many school
districts don't collect that information.
The commission also says that collecting additional data such
as teenage pregnancies among
Hispanics could help identify