Five Latino Disparities in Education Revealed in New Civil Rights Data

By Viviann Anguiano, Intern, Education Policy Project

Recently, two high school valedictorians in Texas revealed their undocumented status. Yale-bound Larissa Martinez and Mayte Lara Ibarra, holding a 4.5 GPA, declared undocumented status. Mayte and Larissa are true exemplars of academic success and beating the odds. These challenges are apparent in the newly released Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) by the U.S. Department of Education, revealing the continued inequities faced by Latino students, English learners, students of color, and students with disabilities. Here are five racial disparities in American public schools that beg our attention.

  1. Latino, along with American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and multiracial high school students, are 2.66 times more likely to be held back in high school compared to their White counterparts.In the same vein, Black students are 3.75 times more likely to be retained compared to White students.
  2. Latino and Black students are underrepresented in AP courses. These students account for 38% of students in schools that offer Advanced Placement courses, but only 29% of such students enrolled in at least one AP course. English learners, moreover, represent 5% of students in schools that offer AP courses, but only 2% of students enrolled in one AP course.
  3. Black and Latino students in schools that offer gifted and talented education (GATE) programs are 1.76 times less likely to have access to GATE programs than their White counterparts. The difference is even larger among English learners in GATE schools, who are 4.3 times less likely to have access to GATE programs when compared to White students in schools offering GATE programs.
  4. Not only do Latino and Black students have less access to high-level math and science courses, but they are also 1.89 times less likely to be enrolled in calculus courses. English learners are also underrepresented in advanced courses, accounting for 5% of students in schools that offer calculus and only 1% of students enrolled.
  5. Fifty-one percent of high schools with high Latino and Black enrollment have sworn in law enforcement officers. This means that predominately Latino and Black schools have more police and policing than schools with low Latino and Black enrollment.

The CRDC unveils vast disparities in access to opportunity among historically vulnerable populations of students. Latino and English learner students continue to get less access to the resources and supports that lead to academic success. As the nation embarks on a historic implementation of the newly signed Every Student Succeeds Act, it is imperative to strive for closing opportunity gaps for vulnerable kids.

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