A recent study examines the ways Washington state can move forward in meeting the needs and promoting the prosperity of its Latino residents. The report, Investing in our Collective Future, looks at a wide range of data on Latino education in Washington state, from early learning through higher education, and presents policy options for moving the state forward.
These recommendations come as the Latino population in Washington and in the nation are increasing. Washington ranks 12th in the nation for Latino population, and 19 percent of all students in Washington’s public schools are Latino. It is the fastest growing population in Washington, but Latino students’ college-going rate, postsecondary enrollment, and earnings are not growing in proportion to the population.
For a well-educated and highly trained population, it is clear that we must do more for Latino students. The report focuses on improving Latino educational access and achievement in the state. It suggests a wide range of ways to better prepare Latino students for success, from P-20 preparation, to parent and community engagement, to transforming institutions to better serve Latino students and families, to reforming funding to prioritize programs that support Latino students.
Preparing Latino Students for Success
In order to promote success for Latino students, the report recommends common sense reforms that will improve quality of education for all students. These include integrating education across early learning through higher education; introducing Latino students to a rigorous curriculum and academic supports; increasing access to evidence-based education programs; and supporting arts education to promote creativity and cognitive development.
Committing to Support Latino Parents and Families
However, these changes cannot be successful without the involvement of parents and families. The report’s policy recommendations reflect this, calling for an increase in communication with parents using appropriate technology in both Spanish and English, with a specific focus on making sure parents are aware of student progress and achievement. In order to increase the number of Latino students going on to higher education, the report’s authors also recommend explicit communications to parents around college-going practices.
With the support of their families, Latino students will have an advantage, but that advantage will not be fully realized until Washington state’s institutions also support them. The authors recommend a variety of institutional changes that will make a difference for Latino students, including making explicit strategies to raise Latino college enrollment and completion; providing various routes to accessing financial aid for all students, including undocumented students; and increasing the number of Latino teachers by giving incentives to educational institutions to produce and hire more Latino teachers.
Finally, the report’s authors make clear that none of these changes can happen with the appropriate financial support. That’s why they suggest increasing financial aid options for students, in particular those who pursue degrees in the STEM and other high demand fields; and supporting Basic Skills funding in the state.
The report’s recommendations offer a way forward for Washington in supporting its fastest growing population. Read the full report here.