Study: Latina Girls Have Highest Dropout Rate

ByABC News
January 25, 2001, 9:38 AM

W A S H I N G T O N, Jan. 25 -- Hispanic girls have a higher high schooldropout rate than girls in other racial or ethnic groups and arethe least likely to earn a college degree, according to theAmerican Association of University Women.

Schools must do more to recognize cultural values that saddleHispanic girls with family responsibilities, such as caring foryounger siblings after school, that take away from educationalendeavors, researchers said in a report released Wednesday.

"If we want Latinas to succeed as other groups of girls have,schools need to work with and not against their families andcommunities and the strengths that Latinas bring to theclassroom," said Angela Ginorio, the study's author.

The report, citing Census Bureau statistics, said the dropoutrate for Latinas ages 16 to 24 is 30 percent, compared with 12.9percent for blacks and 8.2 percent for whites.

Only 10 percent of Hispanic women completed four or more yearsof college, compared with 13.9 percent of blacks and 22.3 percentof whites, according to the National Council of La Raza, anumbrella organization for Hispanic groups.

"Many Latinas face pressure about going to college fromboyfriends and fiances who expect their girlfriends or future wivesnot to be `too educated' and from peers who accuse them of `actingwhite' when they attempt to become better educated or spend time onacademics," the study said.

A Womans Responsibility

At the University of Texas at El Paso, the Mother-DaughterProgram targets sixth-grade Latinas, using tutoring and "bigsisters" to encourage the girls to graduate from high school andattend college. It also helps Hispanic mothers return to school.

"Part of the dropout rate problem has been the belief that thegirl has to work to help the family and besides, she's going to getmarried anyway so why go to college?" said Josefina Tinajero, theprogram director.

"I think there needs to be a tremendous awareness incommunities about this, especially in those that have smallernumbers of Hispanics," she said. "They need to know how to workwith this population."