Getting an Education to Achieve Equality

Ten recommendations to keep our children at school

By Beatriz Schiava MD, MTS, MAc
Published on LatinoLA: March 21, 2011

Getting an Education to Achieve Equality

Achieving an education requires social, behavioral and cultural changes in order to pursue an education. Many Latino families do not give priority to education. Many times Latina girls are left to take care of their younger siblings and are burdened with other family responsibilities.

It is not surprising that Latina girls have the highest high school dropout rate, more than any other ethnic group. 52% of Latina girls become pregnant before they turn 20 and end up leaving school. Moreover, researches with the University of Southern California School of Medicine found that girls who become pregnant have less than desirable communication with their parents.

Children need to feel love and appreciation from their families. They need structure, discipline and to be taught moral values. Otherwise, there are increased possibilities that these children will drop out of school, join a gang, and ultimately, finish in jail. Latino youth are at more risk of violence and violent death compared to non Latinos.

Homicide is the second leading cause of death among Latino youth ages 15-24. The High School dropout rate among Hispanic youth is 27.5%, nearly three out of 10 Hispanics, including recent immigrants. Drop outs contribute less in federal and local taxes, use more welfare programs, and they have a higher incidence of ending up incarcerated. The incidence of young people in America without a GED certificate or high school drop outs who were institutionalized was 63% higher than those who graduated from a four year college. America values education and productivity, and those who become educated are far more productive.

Education is the best equalizer, it promotes social well being and a feeling of belonging. Most importantly, with the Latino population growing at an accelerated pace, we need to get educated in order to compete for better opportunities and to contribute, not only to our communities, but to society at large.

Here are ten solutions to keep our children in school:

1. Talk to your children. Ask them about their activities at school. Good communication with your children is a basic step to pursue an education and keep them motivated. Talk frequently to your children about actions and consequences. Develop good communication skills with your children, and create an environment that helps them to trust you. Get interested in their problems and get to know their friends.

2. Give priority to education. Americans without a high school diploma have lower wages and job opportunities.

3. Equality begins at home. Treat your children with the same respect, encourage girls and boys to graduate. Children need to prioritize school. They are not the parents of their younger siblings. YOU ARE!

4. Teach your children the value of discipline, respect and moral values. Do not expect that school teachers do your job as a parent.

5. Supervise your children's homework and help them to understand the assignment. If you need extra help find afterschool programs that allow them to have mentors and tutors. This is even more important if you are a single parent and need to work. You have to make sure that your children are in a safe environment. Do not leave your children alone at home, even if they are teenagers they still require supervision.

6. Do not let your children and teenage kids to have free time without supervision. Enroll your children in the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and other programs in your community where you can supervise your kids. They are going to be safer with adult supervision. Learn about those programs and meet the staff. Go to the library with your kids, and read with them. Find activities for your kids that they like and help them to pursue their dreams.

7. Get involved in the education of your children. The support that parents give to their children and the involvement of parents in their education is paramount for children to continue to be motivated and graduate. Go to school meetings and talk regularly with your children's teachers, follow their progress and find out how you can help.

8. Explain to your children why it is important to have an education. There is more need than ever before of higher education. We need engineers, doctors, scientists, nurses, health workers, social workers, teachers, among other professionals in America. These jobs are here to stay, and we need to study even beyond college if we want to be competitive.

9. Less TV and more school activities and sports. Organize the schedule of your children with school activities, sports, family activities and Church. Do not put a TV set or their computer in your children's bedroom. You need to supervise the TV programs and the internet sites that your children see. There is so much misinformation and dangers when children watch TV and the internet without supervision. Install a kid's safe surfing program to help you to keep track of their surfing activities and out of danger.

10. Reward good grades, and support them to get better grades.

The future of the Latino community depends on the responsibility of each person to improve themselves, to be good parents and provide a good education for our children. As a community we have a shared responsibility to promote education, to mentor and keep our children safe. Our future does not depend on politicians, or confrontational speeches, but in the personal responsibility and effort required to make a better future for ourselves and our children in America.


Gamboa S. Study: Latina Girls Have Highest Dropout Rate. On Line: Last Accessed: March 15, 2011.

Policy Brief: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Teen Pregnancy. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. On Line:
Disparities.pdf Last Accessed: March 15, 2011.

Adolph C., Ramos D. Linton K. Grimes D.A. Pregnancy among Hispanic teenagers: Is Good Parental Communication a Deterrent?" Contraception 51(5) May 1995. Pp. 303-306.

Rodriguez M.A,Brindis, C.D. Violence and Latino Youth: Prevention and Methodological Issues. Public Health Reports 110 (3) May June 1995. Pp. 260-267.

Left Behind in America: The Nation's Dropout Crisis. A Report by the Center for Labor Market Studies at North Eastern University. May 5, 2009.

Sum, A. Khatiwada, I. McLaughlin, J, Palma S. The Consequences of Dropping Out of High School. Center for Labor Market Studies. Northeastern University, Boston Massachusetts. October 2009, and Left Behind in America: The Nation's Dropout Crisis. A Report by the Center for Labor Market Studies at North Eastern University. May 5, 2009.

Left Behind in America: The Nation's Dropout Crisis. A Report by the Center for Labor Market Studies at North Eastern University. May 5, 2009.

About Beatriz Schiava MD, MTS, MAc:
A retired Medical Doctor, Beatriz likes to write on social, cultural and religious issues. Beatriz has a master in religion by Notre Dame University and a MAc in International Affairs by Washington University Saint Louis.

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