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Excelencia Offers Specific Strategies For Boosting Hispanic College Enrollment

Excelencia Offers Specific Strategies For Boosting Hispanic College Enrollment
By Blair S. Walker

For California to remain economically competitive, higher percentages of Hispanic students must begin attending Golden State colleges and universities, says a recently released study that provides 17 specific recommendations for making that a reality.

Produced by a consortium of education activists, the position paper offers a laundry list of potential remedies that were expected to be presented to California legislators and public university heads. The recommendations, which have already caught the attention of other states, are seen as potential remedies for what is a national problem: ensuring that the next generation of workers, large numbers of whom are Hispanic, are educated.

The initiative was spearheaded by Excelencia in Education, a nonprofit Hispanic education organization based in Washington, D.C. Excelencia collaborated with the California Policy Research Center and the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute to produce a 24-page study titled “Moving Beyond Research: California Policy Options to Accelerate Latino Student Success in Higher Education.”

The study came up with 17 proposals for attracting more Hispanics into California colleges and universities over the next 15 years. The proposals fall under three areas:

– Helping Hispanic students and parents fully appreciate the importance of higher education.
– Making a college education affordable.
– Boosting the numbers of California Hispanics earning postsecondary degrees.

One of the study’s proposals calls for higher education students to receive financial incentives to stay continuously enrolled until degree completion. 

Hispanics represent 46 percent of school-age children in California, but only 29 percent of students being admitted to community colleges, according to “Moving Beyond Research.” Only 8 percent of the students entering the California State University system are Hispanics, a number that falls to 3 percent in the University of California system.

“We want there to be action, so we thought we would put on paper things that are actionable,” says Deborah A. Santiago, Excelencia’s vice president for policy and research. “So our work is not done with the report — we have an engagement strategy that will take us, we think, to another action level.

The group has already scheduled meetings with California State University officials, the California Legislature’s Latino caucus and the University of California regents. Santiago says she’s been contacted by officials from Florida and New Mexico interested in learning more about the study.

John Moder, the spokesman for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, says, “The issue is really a national one, of whether we’re going to have an educated work force in the coming generation or not. I keep recalling a Department of Labor estimate that, by 2020, one out of two new workers is going to be Hispanic. If we don’t do a better job of addressing higher education issues for Hispanics, and for minorities in general, we’re going to wind up with an undereducated work force in a generation.”

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