‘National Dream University’ to Serve Undocumented Students

The new California-based “National Dream University” program will offer undocumented immigrant students the ability to study online for a labor studies certificate while awaiting passage of the Dream Act.

The one-year program is being offered by the University of California,Los Angeles, Center for Labor Research and Education and the National Labor College. It will launch in January 2013 and will cost $2,490.

While some states offer in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants, the majority do not and the high cost of a college education deters many young people from pursuing higher education.

UCLA labor center director Kent Wong told Inside Higher Ed that he hopes academics at other universities will pursue similar initiatives. “I hope that this will encourage other faculty to get involved in ways to pressure their states and pressure the federal government to make changes so that these young people can receive the access to higher education which they need and which they deserve,” he said.

On a similar note, after Georgia banned undocumented students from attending some state institutions,  University of Georgia faculty members created Freedom University. The non-credit courses are offered for free to undocumented students.

It’s certainly a well-intentioned effort. But do you think these certificates will be that helpful to these students?

Related Links:

– National Dream University

– “Undocumented, But Not Uneducated.” Inside Higher Ed. 

– “DREAM Act College: UCLA professors create National Dream University, online school for undocumented students. The Huffington Post. 

– Freedom University.

– “Repository of Resources for Undocumented Students.” The College Board. 

Study Analyzes Suspension Rates by Race, Ethnicity and Disability

The Civil Rights Project at UCLA has released a study of nearly 7,000 school districts finding that about 7 percent of Latino students received out-of-school suspensions at least once during the 2009-10 school year.

The “Opportunities Suspended” report used federal data and also found that 5 percent of white students and 17 percent of black students received out-of-school suspensions. Male students with disabilities had particularly high suspension rates. The data represented about 85 percent of the nation’s public school students. The group warned that students who are suspended at high rates are more likely to drop out and end up in the juvenile justice system.

These averages obscure the fact that there are school districts and states with significantly higher suspension rates. In Connecticut, about 14 percent of Latino students had been suspended at least once–the highest average of any state in the nation. In the Hartford, Connecticut, schools about 44 percent of Latino students had been suspended. In the Thornton Township High School District in Illinois, about 42 percent of Latino students had been suspended.

The report warned that suspension rates among minority male students with disabilities were disturbingly high. This group of students was also likely to be suspended multiple times within the same year. In the Chicago Public Schools, about 29 percent of Latino male students with disabilities had been suspended at least once, compared with a shocking 73 percent of black students and 20 percent of white students.

However, some districts recorded lower suspension rates of Latino students than white students. In the Memphis City Schools, about 29 percent of Latino male students with disabilities had been suspended at least once. By comparison, about 53 percent of black students and 36 percent of white students had suspensions. However, in Memphis, the suspension rates among all racial and ethnic groups was disturbingly high.

Earlier in the summer, the project, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education against the Fall River Public Schools in Massachusetts for its high suspension rates of minority and disabled students. Data there revealed that 23 percent of Latino students, 26 percent of black students and 13 percent of white students had been suspended.

Education Week reporter Lesli Maxwell poses an interesting question on her Learning the Language blog: How often are English language learners suspended? It’s not a question that’s answered in the report, unfortunately.

You can mine these data to find out where your district or state stands compared with the national average.

Related Links:

– “Opportunities Suspended: The Disparate Impact of Disciplinary Exclusion from School.” The Civil Rights Project. 

– “Fall River Public Schools suspend black and Latino students, and students with disabilities, at unusually high rates.” The Civil Rights Project.

– “Researchers sound alarm over black student suspensions.” Education Week.

– “Disabled students almost twice as likely to be suspended, analysis finds.” The New York Times. 

– “Fall River schools facing scrutiny.” The Boston Globe.

Report Names Top 25 Colleges Graduating Latinos in STEM Fields

A new report by the advocacy group Excelencia in Education found that Latinos earned just eight percent of all the degrees and certificates awarded in STEM-related professions in 2009-10.

STEM represents concentrations in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Of the degrees awarded to Latinos, about 60 percent were at the bachelor’s level. Hispanics were also much more likely to pursue certificates, and much less likely to earn graduate degrees.

The Excelencia report is part of a series called “Finding Your Workforce,” which is identifying colleges graduating the most Latinos within specific disciplines. Excelencia stresses that business leaders will need an educated Latino workforce for the United States to remain competitive.

In the most recent study, the organization named the top 25 colleges and universities most successful in graduating the highest numbers of Latinos in STEM. The top schools were located in just six states, in addition to Puerto Rico— Texas, Florida, California, Arizona, Illinois and New Mexico. Most of the schools are public and are Hispanic Serving Institutions, which must have an undergraduate enrollment that is at least 25 percent Latino.

Excelencia found that Latinos tended to be concentrated in lower-paying STEM professions such as service technicians and were not as well represented in higher-paying jobs such as engineering.

The group ranked the top 25 schools broken out by discipline and degree level–certificates, associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorates.

The report also highlighted a number of programs working to increase Latino representation in STEM, and how they’re working to do so and their levels of success. For example, the Jaime Escalante Math & Science Program at East Los Angeles Community College aims to continue the famous teacher’s mission by providing inner-city youth access to challenging Advanced Placement calculus courses. The Mathematics Intensive Summer Session at California State University provides intensive math courses to high school girls during the summer.

The top schools in awarding bachelor’s degrees are as follows:

Biological/Biomedical Sciences: the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez with 254 graduates (second was the University of Texas-Pan American with 176)

Physical Sciences: the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras (67), with the highest school in the United States being Florida International University (51)

Computer/Information Systems: Atlantic College in Puerto Rico (148), with the highest school in the United States being University of Phoenix-Online (96).

Engineering: University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez (629), with the highest U.S. school being Florida International University at 190

Mathematics: University of Texas at El Paso (29)

If you’re a reporter, page through to see if your local school is on the list. The programs that are working to increase the numbers of Latinos in STEM tracks also could be worth a feature story.

Related Links:

– “Finding Your Workforce: the top 25 institutions graduating Latinos in STEM– 2009-10.” 

– “Nation’s Top Colleges for producing Latino STEM graduates.” Learning the Language blog. Education Week.

– “Study: Few Latinos Obtained PhD’s in STEM.” Hispanically Speaking News.

– “Top 25 institutions graduating Latinos in STEM Fields.” NBC Latino.

New York to Award Special Recognition to Bilingual High School Graduates

New York state will begin awarding a state seal of biliteracy to high school graduates who demonstrate that they are proficient in two or more languages. The state follows California, which in January became the first state in the country to award a similar seal.

Students must demonstrate they are proficient in listening, speaking, reading and writing another language.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he had signed a bill into law this week enacting the new seal. It will be attached to diplomas and high school transcripts and will go into effect on September 1. “Giving the proper credentials for those students who are proficient in English and a second language will be instantly recognizable as an achievement of language proficiency for both colleges and employers,” bill co-sponsor State Senator Joseph Robach said in a press release. 

California recently awarded its first seals to the graduating Class of 2012 and more than 10,000 students earned the distinction. The Press-Enterprise newspaper in California reported that many students  and school administrators hope the seal will help their odds of finding work. “We feel it strengthens students’ ability to work in our community and in other communities where there’s a bilingual population,”  San Bernardino schools spokeswoman Linda Bardere told the newspaper.

According to the California Department of Education, about 70 percent of the students earning seals showed Spanish proficiency. To earn a California seal in a second language, students must meet certain criteria. Graduates must have a “C” average in their English language arts classes and show English proficiency on the eleventh grade California Standards Test.

In addition, they must also demonstrate proficiency in the other language by earning a three or higher on an Advanced Placement exam, passing an International Baccalaureate exam with a four or higher, or taking four years of foreign language courses in high school and earning a “B” average or higher.

Related Links:

– “New York becomes second state to recognize biliteracy.” Learning the Language blog. Education Week.

– “Governor Cuomo signs bill to recognize high school graduates who demonstrate proficiency in multiple languages.” Press Release.

– “New State celebrates ‘biliterate’ students.” The Press-Enterprise.

– “State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson announces more than 10,000 students earn new state seal of biliteracy.” California Department of Education.