Holiday in New York

 
New York Schooling: A Mixed Record

With the passing of time, higher levels of schooling have been required to access the technical, professional, and managerial positions created in the health, education, banking, communications, tourism, and other myriad service sectors of New York State’s economy. Latinos have been playing catch-up, and progress has been painfully slow. As a group, Latinos in New York City are the ones who depend the heaviest on public schools to educate their children; 84 percent of Latino children attend public schools, compared with 49 percent of white children.14 Through age-based promotion (students pass to the next grade just because they are a year older) and diluted curriculum (content does not matter and no core common knowledge is taught), public schools have served Latinos ill. Reforms started to be implemented in the first decade of the twenty-first century by the Bloomberg administration and the federal government (No Child Left Behind Act), but only time will tell whether they work.

School failure among Latino children was usually explained as resulting from their lack of intelligence and low English language skills. As early as the 1930s Puerto Ricans had to confront school and government authorities who were classifying their children as low in intelligence.15 In 1953 the city’s Board of Education published the Puerto Rican Study, acknowledging that city schools were not serving Puerto Rican students adequately.16 The board promised to implement a series of initiatives for example, bilingual education. Puerto Rican teachers were hired and programs to get parents involved were put in place. It would take more than two decades for these promises to be actualized. Bilingual education (teaching subject matters in Spanish until students are ready to receive all instruction in English, after being taught it) became a reality only in 1974, after the Puerto Rican advocacy organization ASPIRA won a legal battle against the state of New York. Bilingualism became a political lightning rod, even though it never reached more than a fifth of Latino pupils. Three decades later Latino academic achievement is still dismal, and critics who say bilingual education proved to be no silver bullet are calling for its eradication.17

Those Latinos able to afford private schools have been taking advantage of extant religious, particularly Catholic, schools left behind by Euro-Americans who moved to the suburbs. Latino children’s enrollment in Catholic schools rose consistently over the years, and by 2000 it had reached 19 percent in New York City, whereas minorities composed a total of 50 percent of students in Catholic school. In turn, Latino nationalities enrollment in private school varied in proportion to these groups’ respective socioeconomic standing. Thus, in descending order,

29 percent of Cuban children attend private institutions, followed closely by Peruvians (27 percent) and Colombians (23 percent). Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and Mexicans trail the former groups with 16, 14, and 12 percent, respectively. In today’s inner cities, the function of religious schools is not the same as before, when they served largely the second-generation Euro-American middle class. They sometimes appear as a sort of public school that teaches religious morality, rather than institutions that foster the Catholic, Lutheran, or Seventh Day Adventist faiths, as it educates. With dropout rates below 10 percent and a solid reputation of academic success, the Catholic schools offer aspiring middle-class and even working-class Latinos an affordable alternative to the calamitous public education in their neighborhoods. Even poor parents have found the means to pay for education at Catholic schools although many of these parents and their children are not Catholics.

Latinos’ most significant opportunity to enter higher education was offered by the City University of New York in 1969. Until that year the academic requirements for admission constituted a stiff hurdle for Latinos, who graduated from high school mostly in nonacademic tracks. With the Open Admissions policy in effect at public universities, Latinos’ numerical presence in higher-education institutions increased, so that starting in the 1970s, the possibility arose for a considerable percentage of Latinos to move away from the jobs requiring a strong back and manual dexterity into occupations demanding specialized knowledge and technical skills. Since the 1970s a growing number of Latinos, from second and later generations, have had the chance of being the first ones in their families to achieve a college degree and even professional training. Such development, coupled with expanded employment opportunities in the public sector stimulated by Affirmative Action policies, allowed many Latinos to move into white-collar jobs from clerical positions in government agencies to careers in the teaching and health professions.

Today, New York City thrives on a knowledge-based economy that increasingly offers a forked standard of living for wage workers. People either access high-paying jobs that accord them a middle-class status, or they labor in the sectors that supply the goods and services for those who can afford a more comfortable living. Latinos are overrepresented in the undereducated and underskilled occupational categories for several reasons: The first and fundamental one is the inadequate rates of high school completion and college graduation. Only half the Latino students in public high schools graduate within the stipulated 4 years. Such statistics constitute a massive failure of school institutions, where Latinos are the largest ethnic group (38 percent). The quality of the education among those who do graduate is reflected in the ability of few to gain entrance to four-year colleges. Statewide, 12 percent of Latinos 25 years of age and older had a bachelor’s or higher degree in 2000. The majority start on the path to higher education via a

community college because, among other reasons, they offer English as a Second Language and remedial courses. Community colleges are supposed to be a 2-year affair, but end up being rather a 6-year experience, on average. The socioeconomic consequences of weak school performance bode ill for Latinos, whose median household income in 2004 was $28,000 in New York City, a place where persons with a master’s degree earn a median income of $60,000, and a family of four needs to bring home $100,000 to qualify as middle class.18

 
New York Schooling: A Mixed Record

With the passing of time, higher levels of schooling have been required to access the technical, professional, and managerial positions created in the health, education, banking, communications, tourism, and other myriad service sectors of New York State’s economy. Latinos have been playing catch-up, and progress has been painfully slow. As a group, Latinos in New York City are the ones who depend the heaviest on public schools to educate their children; 84 percent of Latino children attend public schools, compared with 49 percent of white children.14 Through age-based promotion (students pass to the next grade just because they are a year older) and diluted curriculum (content does not matter and no core common knowledge is taught), public schools have served Latinos ill. Reforms started to be implemented in the first decade of the twenty-first century by the Bloomberg administration and the federal government (No Child Left Behind Act), but only time will tell whether they work.

School failure among Latino children was usually explained as resulting from their lack of intelligence and low English language skills. As early as the 1930s Puerto Ricans had to confront school and government authorities who were classifying their children as low in intelligence.15 In 1953 the city’s Board of Education published the Puerto Rican Study, acknowledging that city schools were not serving Puerto Rican students adequately.16 The board promised to implement a series of initiatives for example, bilingual education. Puerto Rican teachers were hired and programs to get parents involved were put in place. It would take more than two decades for these promises to be actualized. Bilingual education (teaching subject matters in Spanish until students are ready to receive all instruction in English, after being taught it) became a reality only in 1974, after the Puerto Rican advocacy organization ASPIRA won a legal battle against the state of New York. Bilingualism became a political lightning rod, even though it never reached more than a fifth of Latino pupils. Three decades later Latino academic achievement is still dismal, and critics who say bilingual education proved to be no silver bullet are calling for its eradication.17

Those Latinos able to afford private schools have been taking advantage of extant religious, particularly Catholic, schools left behind by Euro-Americans who moved to the suburbs. Latino children’s enrollment in Catholic schools rose consistently over the years, and by 2000 it had reached 19 percent in New York City, whereas minorities composed a total of 50 percent of students in Catholic school. In turn, Latino nationalities enrollment in private school varied in proportion to these groups’ respective socioeconomic standing. Thus, in descending order,

29 percent of Cuban children attend private institutions, followed closely by Peruvians (27 percent) and Colombians (23 percent). Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and Mexicans trail the former groups with 16, 14, and 12 percent, respectively. In today’s inner cities, the function of religious schools is not the same as before, when they served largely the second-generation Euro-American middle class. They sometimes appear as a sort of public school that teaches religious morality, rather than institutions that foster the Catholic, Lutheran, or Seventh Day Adventist faiths, as it educates. With dropout rates below 10 percent and a solid reputation of academic success, the Catholic schools offer aspiring middle-class and even working-class Latinos an affordable alternative to the calamitous public education in their neighborhoods. Even poor parents have found the means to pay for education at Catholic schools although many of these parents and their children are not Catholics.

Latinos’ most significant opportunity to enter higher education was offered by the City University of New York in 1969. Until that year the academic requirements for admission constituted a stiff hurdle for Latinos, who graduated from high school mostly in nonacademic tracks. With the Open Admissions policy in effect at public universities, Latinos’ numerical presence in higher-education institutions increased, so that starting in the 1970s, the possibility arose for a considerable percentage of Latinos to move away from the jobs requiring a strong back and manual dexterity into occupations demanding specialized knowledge and technical skills. Since the 1970s a growing number of Latinos, from second and later generations, have had the chance of being the first ones in their families to achieve a college degree and even professional training. Such development, coupled with expanded employment opportunities in the public sector stimulated by Affirmative Action policies, allowed many Latinos to move into white-collar jobs from clerical positions in government agencies to careers in the teaching and health professions.

Today, New York City thrives on a knowledge-based economy that increasingly offers a forked standard of living for wage workers. People either access high-paying jobs that accord them a middle-class status, or they labor in the sectors that supply the goods and services for those who can afford a more comfortable living. Latinos are overrepresented in the undereducated and underskilled occupational categories for several reasons: The first and fundamental one is the inadequate rates of high school completion and college graduation. Only half the Latino students in public high schools graduate within the stipulated 4 years. Such statistics constitute a massive failure of school institutions, where Latinos are the largest ethnic group (38 percent). The quality of the education among those who do graduate is reflected in the ability of few to gain entrance to four-year colleges. Statewide, 12 percent of Latinos 25 years of age and older had a bachelor’s or higher degree in 2000. The majority start on the path to higher education via a

community college because, among other reasons, they offer English as a Second Language and remedial courses. Community colleges are supposed to be a 2-year affair, but end up being rather a 6-year experience, on average. The socioeconomic consequences of weak school performance bode ill for Latinos, whose median household income in 2004 was $28,000 in New York City, a place where persons with a master’s degree earn a median income of $60,000, and a family of four needs to bring home $100,000 to qualify as middle class.

Holiday in New York Photo Gallery



Leave a Reply

three + six =