Celebrate: Latino Families Are Seeing Improved Educational Outcomes Thanks to School Choice

Once upon a time, the Latino student population struggled to stay in secondary school, which resulted in a poor college attendance rate – among other problems. However, according to a recent study conducted by PEW Research, the percentage of Latino youth (18-24) attending college has risen: in the two last decades from 22% to 35%. In fact, the overall school desertion rate for went down from 12% in 2000 to 7% by 2014, partly because more Latinos are staying in school. Educational choice has certainly played a part in giving Latino students better long-term educational outcomes. Evidence produced by The Urban Institute showed that state college attendance increased by an average 15%, and up to 43%, when students are enrolled in a private school choice program compared to public school students who did not receive a scholarship. In that school choice program, the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship, Latinos make up 38% of the students participating – the largest ethnic share of the more than 100,000 students using that program!

From the East to the West, more and more Latinos parents are understanding, using, and supporting the different school options offered to them. That was the case for Nydia Salazar’s mom, a Peruvian immigrant from Arizona who was granted a Tax Credit Scholarship. Because of it, Nydia is now on her way to become a cardiologist at Grand Canyon University. The same applies to Bertha Castaneda Guzman, another living testimony of how a low-income Latino child can beat all the odds to become a graduate of Penn State, which ranks among of the top universities of the East Coast.

Stories like these are no longer isolated cases, since 74% of Latino parents are in support of the issue of school choice, and so are African American families (66%) and millennials (75%). Unlike the latter two, Latinos have been considered dormant on the education reform landscape for many years. Then again that situation is changing too. Both in education and politics, “the sleeping giant,” as many referred to our community, is awakening. Furthermore, education is actually shaping our voting habits and it is considered one of the most important issues related to politics.

During this month we celebrate our heritage, our culture, our achievements. As a Latina, I feel proud to hear that WE are changing the National landscape in K-12, higher education and more! We are reversing past negative statistics, and reshaping our own destiny. Let’s celebrate! Let’s celebrate, as the time has come for our students to flourish, for our parents to choose, for our nation to thrive.