Committee on Hispanic Affairs
Most Rev. James A. Tamayo, Bishop of the Diocese of Laredo
Chair of the USCCB Committee on Hispanic Affairs
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Washington, DC, July 21, 2004
Good morning. Thank you for agreeing to participate in this consultation. Your expertise and insights are key to helping the Committee on Hispanic Affairs become more familiar with the dynamics involved in responding to a much talked about and very important issue impacting Hispanic/Latino families—namely, the low education attainment level among our young people.
The Bishops of the United States are very aware that the involvement of Latinos in the life of the Church and full participation in society are integrally related to education. Sadly, the largest ethnic group in the Church is lagging behind other ethnic and cultural groups in education attainment levels. According to the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options (CREO) of Washington, DC:
- Hispanics have the lowest rate of participation in early childhood development programs in the U.S.
- 30% of U.S. Hispanics do not have a high school education.
- School dropout rates for Hispanics have ranged from 30-35% over the past 25 years (2.5 times the rate of blacks and 4 times the rate for white non-Hispanics).
- 54% of Hispanics cannot read adequately.
- Less than 6% of Hispanics hold a 4-year college degree.
I am appreciative of your commitment, time and talent. The data and information shared and discussed in this consultation will be used to provide the Bishops’ Committee on Hispanic Affairs a report that is useful in assessing the type of response the Church might promote, such as a parish-school partnership program.
I thank you for your interest in this topic and I look forward to your input and collaboration. God bless.
LIST OF PARTICIPANTS
|Convener:||Most Rev. James A. Tamayo, Chair
Bishops’ Committee on Hispanic Affairs
|Facilitators:||Ronaldo Cruz, Alejandro Aguilera-Titus
Secretariat for Hispanic Affairs
Secretariat for Hispanic Affairs
Dr. Edwin Hernandez serves as Program Director of the University of Notre Dame’s Center for the Study of Latino Religion. He is a former Officer of the Religion Program at Pew Charitable Trusts. He has recently completed a study on Hispanic youth titled Religion Matters: Predicting Schooling Success among Latino Youth
Ms. Karen Willoughby is the coordinator of the Fairfax County (Virginia) Public Schools’ Family Services and Involvement Section. She and a team of educators have developed a successful and effective Tool Kit on Parent-School Partnerships for culturally diverse at-risk students and their families. Team Members: Ms. Micheline Lavalle, Ms. Claudia Thomas, Ms. Ann Ulmschneider
Dr. Gelasia Marquez is an Educational Psychologist in private practice from Newark, New Jersey. She is a nationally known lay minister and catechist who serves as a consultant on at-risk children and families with public and Catholic schools She specializes on psychological issues of new immigrants to this country and their coping mechanisms as they try to adjust to mainstream society.
Bishops’ Committee on Hispanic Affairs Consultants
Sr. Angela Erevia, MCDP, Diocesan Director of Hispanic Ministry, Archdiocese of Omaha
Sr. Leticia Salazar, ODN, Diocesan Director of Hispanic Ministry, Diocese of Orange
Hispanic Ministry Network
Ms. Elisa Montalvo, Diocesan Director for Hispanic Ministry, Diocese of Richmond, President of the National Catholic Association of Diocesan Directors for Hispanic Ministry (NCADDHM)
Sr. Maria Luz Ortiz, MHSH, President of the National Organization of Catechists Among Hispanics (NOCH)
USCCB Department of Education
Ms. Marie Powell, Assistant Secretary, Catholic Schools Parental Rights Advocate
USCCB Department of Migration and Refugee Services
Sr. Mary Paul Asoegwu, DDL, Ethnic Ministries Coordinator
Ms. Cecile Motus, Migration and Refugee Services, Ethnic Ministries Coordinator
Mr. Patrick Markey, Associate Director, Marketing, Sales, and Service
Convene a small group of experts and Church professionals who can shed light on the issues and reasons for low education attainment levels among Hispanic youth
Develop a report for the Bishops’ Committee on Hispanic Affairs for their review and action during the November 2004 meeting in Washington, DC.
- Presentations on the educational attainment of Hispanic young people and their reality, and a school-home partnership model:
- Research on Hispanic young people and education
- Dynamics of Hispanic parents-school relationships
- A parent-school partnership program
- Research on Hispanic young people and education
- Application of the SWOT analysis to the content of the three presentations:
What are the strengths (S); weaknesses (W); opportunities (0) and Threats/challenges (T) that emerge from the educational reality lived by Hispanic young people and their families?
- Identify the elements of a parish-school partnership program that might effectively raise the educational attainment level among Hispanic young people.
- What can the Bishops' Committee on Hispanic Affairs do the help facilitate the development of parish-school partnership programs?
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
To see how the Church might serve to improve the low education attainment
levels among the Hispanic/Latino community in the USA
Sponsorship of the consultation came from the Bishops’ Committee on Hispanic Affairs who hosted the one day event in mid-July with researchers and education professionals who have the latest data and experience on how Hispanics learn and interact with educational institutions. The research project was an on-going project which comes to a close at the end of 2004. The project was funded through a Request for Exception grant the Bishops’ Committee received in 1999 from the USCCB.
Participants included a Hispanic researcher in the area of Hispanics/Latinos in Religion from the University of Notre Dame, practitioners involved in parent – school partnership programs from Fairfax County Virginia and the Archdiocese of Newark, members of the USCCB staff representing the Departments of Education and Migration and Refugee Services, the Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women and Youth, and USCCB Publishing. The two non-bishop consultants represented the Bishops’ Committee.
The purpose of the consultation was to: a) quickly obtain the latest research and best practices experiences from credible and reliable professionals, b) assess the state of Latino edcuation c) for the invitees to brainstorm on how the Church might influence families through the parish structure, and public and Catholic schools to help increase the education attainment levels among the Hispanic/Latino population, and d) to develop a report with recommendations for the Bishops’ Committee on Hispanic Affairs.
Data presented showed that a) population projections, education attainment levels, and the income potential among Hispanics is not consistent with a community that is large and will have the responsibility to respond as leaders of the Church within a culturally diverse membership. b) It became painfully obvious that the education attainment levels among this community is very low and discouraging when one looks to the future and the potential role Hispanics/Latinos could play. c) The current educational reality impacts the Hispanic community’s income potential, quality of life, and the community’s contributions to both church and society.
The Hispanic/Latino reality
The West and South of the USA have the highest growth of Hispanics. 1 in 3 Latinos are under the age of 15; most live in urban areas; 47% have low skills level; 40% dropout before the 8th grade; 54% cannot read adequately in English; dropout rates among Hispanics have ranged from 30-35% over the past 25 years; less than six percent (6%) of Latinos have a four year college degree and most parents cannot help out with the English language. Catholic school enrollment is 75.8% White, 11.2% Hispanic and 8.2% Black. 40 % of the US Catholic population is Hispanic.The challenge
Latinos can better serve the Church as they obtain a higher level of education. Successful recruitment in Hispanic religious vocations is closely tied to educational attainment. Academic achievement is key. Literacy levels must increase. How can the Church help Hispanics to stay in school? As the Hispanic population continues to increase, it should have the opportunity and Church support to increase its educational attainment levels and involvement in all aspects of society.The Successes
Hispanics are attending two year college programs in greater numbers. Seventy percent ofThe Church’s role
Hispanics are graduating from high school. The research presented shows that Catholic school success is due to its teachers, spirituality and family involvement and a safe school environment. The study also shows that parental involvement in church fosters higher levels of school attendace, better student discipline, greater self-esteem, higher academic success, and more volunterism in both church and society.
Educated and practicing Catholics could be tapped as mentors. Volunteers could be trained to assist in making contacts with families and school officials. Strategies can be developed on how to proceed. Bridges can be built between the language and culture of the home and that of the school. A high priority will have to include early childhood development workshops and parent training programs that can help to promote positive models of family life.Recommended action/follow-through
- Start the process by (a) sharing data, (b) promoting concept of community of faith in the parish, school, city hall, (c) involving educational system and family life committees, and (d) including grassroot leadership from the start; don’t expect things to happen from the top to the bottom.
- A copy of the report should be sent to Superintendents of Schools. Share information on education, as it is a marginal issue for most people. Forty percent of the Catholic population is a very large number!
- Develop a process that gets church leaders to visit the schools in their community.
- A public awareness campaign on the importance of family involvement is needed.
- Get pastors and parish leaders involved in promoting the value of educarion among children and working families. Help them make it a goal.
- Channel information to communities and national organizations, like La Red who is preparing for a national youth Encuentro, so that the education agenda becomes integral to their national gatherings.
- The Committee on Hispanic Affairs must seek out philanthropic organizations for resources and support in implementing a follow-thorugh strategy.
- Promote dialogue between the Hispanic bishops and Pastoral Institutes, colleges and universities on the education crisis among Hispanic Latinos in the United States.
- Inform the local church, organizations, and government that help is needed to confront the Hispanic education crisis.
- The Committee on Hispanic Affairs must promote parenting education among Hispanic/Latino parents and the need for parents to learn the English language.
- The Committee on Hispanic Affairs must promote the need to increase the education attainment level of the entire family.
How does the committee get parishes involved in promoting education?
- Staff development for teachers is important.
- Allocate finances and the necessary resources.
- Commitment to mission must come from the highest levels of leadership.
- There must be an intentional campaign to enroll kids in the neighborhoods into school programs; assess the reality of the neighborhood.
- Create scholarship programs for the different levels/age groups.
- Recognize and promote the role and benefit of family involvement in the educational process.
- Parishes must become more aware of the Hispanic/Latino population in their midst.
- Promote the involvement of Hispanic/Latino role models in school programs.
- Identify best practices models from throughout the country.
- Recognize and accept the fact that the majority of Latino children attend public schools (approximately 90%).
- Develop coalitions that promote meetings between school principals and administrators, students and parents; ask the question: “What do you (parents) need to do to help your children? Also ask the same question of the others involved.
- Promote leadership development within parish communities that will help develop the needed leadership within the community.
- Promote the concept that local business can become involved in confronting the issue of low education attainment.
- Find ways to capitalize on arts, music and dance.
- The USCCB should declare that the education attainment level of Hispanics is a significant and important priority in the Church.