Consider these facts:
- The Hispanic dropout rate, 14 percent, is the lowest it’s been in three decades and has been cut in half since 2000.
- About a fourth of the people who took the GED test in 2013 were Latino, the largest share since 2003.
- The graduation rate for Hispanics, different than the dropout rate, was up to 76 percent to 2012, a 15 percentage point increase from 2006.
Latino leaders and education experts cite these facts by heart, but they are less precise in pinpointing exactly how Hispanics got to these better education markers.
Explanations vary from the changed and tougher economy to policies instituted in the Bush and Obama administrations. Others point to local school districts manipulating data or the fact that larger Latino student populations have focused the attention of educators who previously may have neglected their needs.
There’s good reason for the varied reasons, said John Gomperts, president and CEO for America’s Promise Alliance, that has a goal of getting the national graduation rate to 90 percent by the year 2020.
“If someone had discovered a silver bullet, there are a lot of people who care deeply about this and we would have applied that vaccine nationwide if it was that easy,” Gomperts said.
Instead, he said, what has worked has been recognizing the challenge and becoming determined to fix it, as well as building community support for whatever in school or around school initiative, program or plan gets results.
“It is very complicated, there are so many factors involved,” Gomperts said.
What is certain is Latinos – who in polling consistently identify education as a top concern – have compelling reason to weigh in on who is making education policy and what policies they are making, particularly with control of the Senate in play in this November’s elections.