Today, September 15, marks the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month. Although it is a month long recognition, it does not begin on the first of the month. And there is significance in that! The date marks the day of independence for a few Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Not to mention that more countries–Mexico, Chile, and Belize–also recognize their independence during the month period between September 15 and October 15.
While it is wonderful to have the recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, we should not forget that hispanic and latinx heritage should be celebrated year round.
Many youth mentoring programs are becoming more diverse as programmers reach out to more communities. With a growing latinx population in the United States, it is for certain that latinx students will be involved in youth mentoring programs. Further, it is important that they are involved as they are less likely than other groups to attain a four year degree.
According to the Pew Research Center:
Even though more Hispanics are getting a postsecondary education than ever before, Hispanics still lag other groups in obtaining a four-year degree. As of 2014, among Hispanics ages 25 to 29, just 15% of Hispanics have a bachelor’s degree or higher. By comparison, among the same age group, about 41% of whites have a bachelor’s degree or higher (as do 22% of blacks and 63% of Asians). This gap is due in part to the fact that Hispanics are less likely than some other groups to enroll in a four-year college, attend an academically selective college and enroll full-time.
This gap in education begins young. According to an article in U.S. News:
Despite the increase in scores from 2005 to 2015, only 21 percent of Latino fourth-graders reached the “proficient” level in reading in 2015. This compares to 46 percent of white students, and 35 percent of fourth-graders overall. Those scores varied by state. For example, the 2015 gap in reading scores between white and Latino students at fourth grade ranged from the equivalent of about one grade level in Louisiana, to more than three grade levels in Pennsylvania and Minnesota.
During this month of celebration, we should also recognize that our latinx youth are entitled to an equal quality and access to education. As mentoring programs, we can help close this gap by standing up for our latinx youth.
Learn more about Hispanic Heritage Month at these sites: