In the article “NOW ARRIVING; In New York, Mexicans Lag In Education” Kirk Semple describes how Mexicans are disadvantaged in the education system, even though they are the fastest growing immigrant group in one of the most diverse cities. According to Semple, Mexicans

“Officially number about 183,200, according to the Census Bureau, up from about 33,600 in 1990.”

Considering that New York is home to so many Mexicans, it should be assumed that this large immigrant group is to some extent integrated into New York’s school system, enabling Mexicans to finish high school, get a degree, and integrate into the working environment. However, when looking at the census Semple points out:

“About 41 percent of all Mexicans between ages 16 and 19 in the city have dropped out of school.”

This demonstrates that Mexicans have difficulties integrating in the New York school system.

Looking at this high number of dropouts in school leads to the question as to why so many Mexicans have difficulties finishing high school. It’s probably not because they aren’t smart enough, disciplined enough, or their parents/family don’t value education. Rather, it is a combination of stereotypes, discrimination, and limited access to resources.

Mexicans are in fact willing to work and have been successful to some extent. Semple wrote:

“Many adults have demonstrated remarkable success at finding work, filling restaurant kitchens and construction sites, and opening hundreds of businesses”.

However, these are mostly jobs Americans would not be willing to do, and are usually not paid well. Because these jobs often don’t pay enough to feed a family coming from a low socioeconomic status, a parent has to have more than one job, and very often their teenager has to work as well.  Semple points out:

“Many Mexicans are poor and in the country illegally. Parents, many of them uneducated, often work in multiple jobs, leaving little time for involvement in their children’s education.”

Furthermore, these immigrant parents might not be able to afford textbooks, or college, because of their low paid jobs, leading the children to believe that there aren’t any ways for them to be successful in high school and get into college. If these children don’t have parents that will go through the schooling process with them because they lack the knowledge, have to work, can’t afford or don’t speak English, it is almost impossible for these children to succeed in school.

Furthermore, Mexicans are more than under represented in schools and faculties, possibly leading Mexicans to believe that they do not belong in the American school system. How can children feel accepted in the school environment, if the structure of a school itself fails to be diverse and accepting? If there are only a few Mexican students who actually stay in school it is understandable that so many other Mexican students have a hard time finding a place to belong in school (based on race/ethnicity). School might lose its value as a whole for these students if feeling like an outcast.

Another disadvantage that Mexicans are faced with is the lack of resources and privileges. As Semple wrote:

“Many young illegal immigrants in New York City say there is no point in staying in school because their lack of legal status limits their access to college scholarships and employment opportunities. Some drop out under the erroneous belief that they are not eligible to attend college. (Illegal immigrants who graduate from a high school in New York State or earn a G.E.D. are not only allowed to attend the state’s public university system, but are also eligible for in-state tuition)”

It demonstrates how Mexicans are often not well informed about legal ways for them to attend college.  Because of stereotypes such as Mexicans are lazy, and they are all illegal, it is only consequential that Mexicans are limited in their resources when it comes to questions about college. Questions that include how to apply for college and how to receive financial aid. In some cases it is not easy for White students to figure out the application process and how to get financial aid. However, they are often guided through this process by teachers and parents, whereas Mexican students often drop out of high school. Dropping out of school leads to limited information about college by the school or teacher, and furthermore these students are likely to not be supported by their family.

Making a change for this group, we need to integrate more Mexicans into the schooling faculty, who know of the problems Mexican students face, and help establish free tutoring, as well as assistance for immigrant parents to work on language skills and ways to guide their children through school successful.

2 responses

  1. santanay says:

    I definitely agree. I think that the reason as to why many Mexicans fail to enter the professional world is because of all these external factors that you have mentioned. Coming from a immigrant household myself, getting into college was not easy. My mother speaks no English and so i had to search for help in my teachers and counselors. I think more Latinos in school faculties, more tutoring and knowledge of financial aid definitely would help not only Mexicans but other immigrants in America who want an education. The stereotypes of Mexicans being lazy is completely wrong. Many immigrants arrive from their country of origin willing to do any job in order to move forward. I think that by educating Mexicans and other Latino groups we can be able to not erase all stereotypes but make them less known. This kind of reminds me of the culture of poverty and how it is a complete myth. People many times view statistics and numbers and are unable to realize what they mean. People have to realize that there are external factors which affect groups of people and that programs and assistance are needed for specific groups. Factors such as discrimination, lack of resources, poverty and racism need to be evaluated when speaking about specific ethnic groups and their success in mainstream society.

  2. jholguin20 says:

    After reading this article you can definitely understand why mexicans or other minority groups may not always continue school after high school let alone graduate from that. Many students are not nearly informed enough about college and understanding what their limitations and restrictions are. This is especially a problem with mexicans in America and illegal immigrants because they often do not know where they can continue on with school and how much financial help they may receive. It is terrible to hear about all of the drop outs when it could be prevented so easily. If this issue was taken very seriously from the start of the students entering high school than I would bet that the numbers of mexican and other minority group graduates would rise.