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Boston Globe

Study: Culture Can Separate Hispanic Girls From Diplomas

By Suzanne Gamboa, Associated Press

January 25, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Globe Newspaper Company. All Rights Reserved.

WASHINGTON - Hispanic girls have a higher high school dropout rate than girls in any other racial or ethnic group, and are the least likely to earn a college degree, according to the American Association of University Women.

Schools must do more to recognize cultural values that saddle Hispanic girls with family responsibilities, such as caring for younger siblings after school, that take away from educational endeavors, researchers said in the report, issued yesterday.

''If we want Latinas to succeed as other groups of girls have, schools need to work with and not against their families and communities and the strengths that Latinas bring to the classroom,'' said Angela Ginorio, the study's author.

The report, citing Census Bureau statistics, said the dropout rate for Latinas ages 16 to 24 is 30 percent, compared with 12.9 percent for blacks and 8.2 percent for whites.

Only 10 percent of Hispanic women completed four or more years of college, compared with 13.9 percent of blacks and 22.3 percent of whites, according to the National Council of La Raza, an umbrella organization for Hispanic groups.

''Many Latinas face pressure about going to college from boyfriends and fiances who expect their girlfriends or future wives not to be `too educated' and from peers who accuse them of `acting white' when they attempt to become better educated or spend time on academics,'' the study said.

At the University of Texas at El Paso, the Mother-Daughter Program targets sixth-grade Latinas, using tutoring and ''big sisters'' to encourage the girls to graduate from high school and to attend college. It also helps Hispanic mothers return to school.

''Part of the dropout rate problem has been the belief that the girl has to work to help the family, and besides, she's going to get married anyway, so why go to college?'' said Josefina Tinajero, the program director.

''I think there needs to be a tremendous awareness in communities about this, especially in those that have smaller numbers of Hispanics,'' she said. ''They need to know how to work with this population.''

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