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Culture and Academic Performance

Culture and Academic Performance

U.S. Census reports remind us that Hispanics are the largest and fastest growing minority population in the United States. As their numbers continue to grow, colleges and universities across the country have stepped up their efforts to recruit Hispanics, while simultaneously figuring out how best to accommodate them once they arrive. And as we reported a year ago, a number of historically Black colleges and universities have also reached out to Hispanic students.

Senior writer Ronald Roach’s “Jump Starting Latino Achievement” is the first of many stories to focus on the national push to boost Latino academic performance. In past editions of Black Issues In Higher Education, the predecessor of Diverse, our achievement gap coverage looked at Black and Latino achievement compared to White and Asian American students. We had also featured stories on the controversy over how scholars were advancing ideas about culture’s affects on Black achievement. With the African-American community publicly discussing the crisis of young Black males and the impact of Black poverty like never before, you can be sure that those stories on culture and academic performance will continue to be part of the achievement gap coverage.

Given our broader mandate with Diverse, we now want to bring specific attention to some of the issues that distinguish Latinos from native-born African-Americans with regard to raising K-12 student performance. Issues such as bilingual education and immigrant culture will receive serious coverage because that’s what scholars and researchers are studying in the effort to improve Latino achievement.

In other articles, contributing editor Lydia Lum looks at how foreign language faculty are adjusting their curricula to ensure that today’s college students know how to use technology tools to communicate; Diverse correspondent Kerri Allen asks whether the Hispanic-Serving Institution designation is an asset or a deficit. Kerri’s article raises some important questions about the more than 200 colleges and universities that are federally-designated Hispanic-Serving Institutions. Are institutions with that distinction taking in federal dollars earmarked for HSIs and doing little or nothing to boost Latino achievement on their campuses? Are the same institutions failing to aggressively recruit and retain Latino faculty members? Allen reports that such questions are being asked by Latinos who work as administrators and faculty members at HSIs.

In addition, correspondent Jamal Watson reports on how the U.S. Congress has eliminated the funding for several minority-focused medical training centers. And last, but certainly not least, in “Keeping Black Poetry Alive,” Diane Mehta looks at how creative writing professors are helping students appreciate the craft.

Hilary Hurd Anyaso

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