The Miseducation of Mexican NYers

With nearly half of Mexicans in New York under the age of 25, the community is not just the youngest major ethnic group, it’s also the fastest growing. But only 37 percent of Mexicans in the city between 16 and 24 attend school and the community has the highest dropout rate in the city.

In a write-up and podcast for Feet in 2 Worlds, Angela Sharp and Mica Scofield look at the factors contributing to the state of education in the community, as well as local efforts to boost it.

Susanna, 19, almost dropped out of high school citing a lack of support from "misinformed teachers." (Photo by Mica Scofield via Feet in 2 Worlds)

Susanna, 19, almost dropped out of high school, citing a lack of support from “misinformed teachers.” (Photo by Mica Scofield via Feet in 2 Worlds)

A study found limitations in finances, immigration status and language as hurdles to obtaining an education.

Community Service study released in March of this year, funded by Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, cites high rates of poverty as one major factor for low educational attainment among Mexican youth living in the city. The same study recognizes immigration status and low English-language proficiency as reasons for first generation Mexican Americans dropping out. In addition, undocumented Mexican students, barred from federal financial aid, may feel that college is financially unattainable.

In speaking to people on the ground – students, advocates and educators – Sharp and Scofield uncovered additional challenges, including that some schools don’t know how to “address the needs of undocumented students” or get immigrant parents involved.

What’s being done to improve the educational situation in the Mexican community?

Community organizations including Masa in Queens, Mixteca in Brooklyn and New York State Youth Leadership Council help Mexican families and youth. The latter, led by undocumented youth, has a mentor program where:

(…) the idea is to partner immigrant youth with undocumented college graduates or college bound students of similar backgrounds, and provide students with the tools to continue their education after high school.

Still, it’s hard to gauge the success of the initiatives to improve the educational status in the community. For those that do graduate, they encounter a whole new level of challenges when trying to step into the work field.

More needs to be done:

Also at the local level, students and educators we spoke with reiterated the need for Dream Teams, safe and supportive spaces for undocumented students and their allies to provide a successful learning environment for undocumented students.

Visit Feet in 2 Worlds to listen to the accompanying podcast.

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