Latinos, currently the largest minority in the United States at more than 13 percent of the population, have been instrumental to the development of Washington state since the 1774 Spanish exploration of the Olympic Peninsula. During the past 25 years the state’s Hispanic population has increased dramatically from 118,432 in 1980 to 549,774 in 2005. The foundation of the current Hispanic boom is rooted in economic and labor developments of the 1940s. Just as the early twentieth century ushered in an era of large Latino immigration into Washington State so did the end of the century.
The Latino immigrant influx increased during the 1990s as Latin American countries experienced economic and political turmoil, especially in Mexico. Most Latino immigrants settled in older Hispanic communities of the Yakima Valley and Eastern Washington, but others moved to areas such as King Country. By 2004, King County’s population of 1,793,583 was 6. 5 percent Hispanic or Latino — close to 117,000 Latinos live in the county, illustrating a Latino community that favored urban areas. The status of education like in any other country is very important as it one of the factors that makes a great nation.
(Calderon, Gonzalez & Lazarin, 2004) Latinos are more like to start school later and leave school earlier. The resulting – and persistently large – education gap between Latinos and their peers continues to be the most critical issue facing the Hispanic community. Several critical issues which have relevance to the status of Latino education have been noted. First, (Calderon, Gonzalez & Lazarin, 2004) Increase in Latino share of the U. S. school-age population. U. S. Census data confirm that, in the next ten years, a significant share of America’s schools will be largely composed of Hispanic children.
Hispanic children under 18 years of age are now the second – largest group of students, after non-Hispanic Whites. Between 1990 and 2000, the population of Hispanic children and youth under 18 reached 12. 3 million. In 1975, three million Latinos were attending public and private schools. By 2000, more than 8. 1 million Latinos were enrolled in K-12 schools. The Latino population has expanded in other parts of the country besides that of California, Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois which resulted to the growing population of Hispanic students in every region of the U. S.
The proportion of Hispanic K-12 public school students in the West, in states such as Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, and Oregon, grew from 14. 8% in 1975 to 31. 6% in 2000. During that same period, the Hispanic public school student population also increased in states in the South (from 6. 6% to 16. 0%), including Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and the District of Columbia; in the Northeast (from 6. 1% to 11. 4%). Second, there were disparities in Hispanic educational experiences where a large share of Hispanic children attends schools with myriad, interrelated problems.
• Inadequate funding. Schools serving Hispanic and other disadvantaged students spent on average $966 less per student in 2000 than did schools with few children from low-income homes. • Poor teacher quality. The under funding of schools serving Hispanics makes it difficult to recruit and retain qualified teachers, which heavily influences the quality of instruction these students receive. For example, minority eighth-grade math students are more likely than White students to have teachers who do not have an undergraduate degree in mathematics.
• Undemanding coursework. Schools attended by Hispanic and other economically disadvantaged students are less likely to provide rigorous education coursework that prepares these students to pursue postsecondary opportunities (cited in Haycock, Kati, Jerald, & Huang, 2001). For example, about one in five Latino and African American eighth grade students take algebra, compared to more than one in four of their White peers. Among 17-year-olds, only 8% of Hispanics and 4% of Blacks have taken pre-calculus or calculus, compared to 15% of Whites.
• Hispanic fourth-graders scored at 197 on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading test (on a scale of 0-500). In comparison, White fourth graders scored at 225 on the NAEP reading test that year. Similarly, Hispanic fourth graders scored at 209 on the NAEP math test compared to 235 for White fourth-graders on a scale of 0-500. • About six in ten (64. 1%) Hispanics ages 18 through 24 have completed high school. By comparison, more than eight in ten Blacks (83. 7%) and nine in ten Whites (91. 8%) of the same age group completed high school.
• Among 16- to 24-year-olds, the proportion of young adults who were not in school and who had not graduated (regardless of when they last attended school) was 27. 8% for Hispanics, more than twice that for Blacks (13. 1%) and more than four times that for Whites (6. 9%). Moreover, in 2000, Hispanics accounted for 38. 6% of all dropouts. • Hispanics composed 15. 1% and Whites accounted for 65. 3% of the total U. S. population aged 16 through 24. Among students of the same age group enrolled in college in 2000, less than one in ten (9.
4%) was Hispanic and more than seven in ten (71. 0%) were non-Hispanic White. • Only one in ten (10. 8%) Hispanics ages 25 years and over had received a bachelor’s degree or higher. In comparison, almost three in ten Whites (27. 7%) of the same age group had obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher Early childhood education. In 2001, fewer than four in ten (36. 2%) poor Hispanic children ages three to five were enrolled in early childhood care and education programs, while 60. 1% of poor Black and 46. 1% of poor White children of the same age group were enrolled in these programs.