PRINCETON, N.J., March 7, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Yvette Donado, Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of Educational Testing Service (ETS), delivered the 2014 Tomás Rivera lecture yesterday during the ninth annual American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) conference. During her remarks she noted that helping Hispanics meet their educational aspirations is good not just for them but also for America.
The conference theme is, "America's Prosperity: The Academic Success of Hispanics," and Donado drew upon national reports and ETS's own research to illustrate the positive impact of such efforts. The annual lecture is named in honor of the late Dr. Tomás Rivera, a professor, scholar, poet, author and former president of the University of California, Riverside. Rivera also served on the board of trustees of ETS.
"Last September, I delivered a Hispanic Heritage Month address at a major company in New Jersey," Donado said. "I told them Hispanics are 18 percent of our state's population. In a generation, they will be one-third. They are your workforce, your customers, your future scientists, engineers, marketers and managers. Heads bobbed in recognition of this fact."
"Now, some may believe that helping Hispanics meet their educational aspirations is charity. Wrong," she said. "Boosting educational attainment is not just good for Hispanics. We need to make sure that everyone understands that it is good for America!"
Donado told attendees that by 2015, if Latinos age 18–24 attended and graduated from college at the same rates as non-Hispanic Whites, the following benefits would incur:
- 430,000 more Hispanics would be in college and 110,000 would graduate.
- Increased Hispanic presence would benefit ALL students.
- Other benefits would accrue as they enter the workforce, contributing to diversity of thought and action.
- They would add more than $130 billion per year to the economy.
- That new wealth would add $45.5 billion to public revenues, helping all Americans.
- The proportion of Hispanic families with less than adequate incomes would decline from 40 percent to under 21 percent.
"There is no need to draw a picture," she said. "Those who neglect the potential contribution of Hispanics to our nation, those who do not support equitable access to educational opportunity for Hispanics, those who oppose documenting the undocumented do so at their own peril."
"We Hispanics often point to our growing numbers and assume that with them will come economic and political power. But such power must be won. It will not be handed to us. We must fight for it. Economic and political power must be matched by education power!"
"Although I much prefer an asset model, not a deficit model, we must face the reality that despite our many gains, we continue to lag in key areas." Donado cited the following:
- Hispanics are less than 3 percent of full-time university faculty and administrators.
- High school dropout rates, although down slightly, are still unacceptably high.
- UCLA's Patricia Gándara says Hispanics have the worst record of college completion (9 to 11 percent for the last three decades; while African-American students' numbers rose from 11 percent in 1975 to 18 percent in 2006).
- More than 40 percent of Latina mothers have less than a high school education (compared to 12 percent of African-American mothers).
- Latinas are twice as likely as other women to live in poverty (20 percent vs. 11 percent).
- When Hispanic families lack resources and their children attend impoverished schools, negative outcomes are inevitable.
- Community colleges are the point of entry for most Hispanics going into higher education, but a large percentage are not college ready and require remedial courses.
- Too many Hispanics lack English-language skills and education to compete for better paying jobs.
"Research and experience have consistently shown correlations between educational attainment and success," she said. "Education can improve personal and public health and overall quality of life; strengthen communities and societies; increase wealth; heighten interest in environmental quality; and promote harmony and collaboration among people of different backgrounds and cultures."
"Societies with higher levels of education have lower rates of AIDS, HIV and infant mortality; longer life expectancies; greater economic output; and are more stable and productive. Education may not guarantee well-being in a society, but social well-being is improbable without it."
Donado noted, "Progress depends on hard work, creativity, initiative and persistence." She said that progress must include:
- A strong start for Hispanic preschoolers, with more early education
- Improved teacher quality across the board
- Lower drop-out rates
- Easier access to higher education
- Higher high school and post-secondary graduation rates
- Increased number of Hispanic college presidents, administrators and faculty
"A myth persists among some out there that Hispanics don't care about education," Donado said. "The fact is that along with economic opportunity, education tops the list of Hispanic priorities. So the challenge is to move our communities and our nation from the realm of `possibilities' into the realm of `probabilities'. Our motto should be `mission possible'."
"Our society is changing faster than our capacity to keep up with the changes," Donado concluded. "Let us not react to the changes around us, let us prepare. Let us shape those changes in a manner consistent with our numbers. Education, too, is evolving. And we Hispanics cannot be mere spectators. We must be players. We must move from doubts and uncertainties, to assured progress, along pathways with built-in and fail-safe mechanisms."
At ETS, we advance quality and equity in education for people worldwide by creating assessments based on rigorous research. ETS serves individuals, educational institutions and government agencies by providing customized solutions for teacher certification, English language learning, and elementary, secondary and post-secondary education, as well as conducting education research, analysis and policy studies. www.ets.org
The American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education, Inc. (AAHHE) is an association of Hispanic faculty and administrators at U.S. colleges and universities. It supports the development of Hispanic college professionals and is dedicated to increasing the number of Hispanics in higher education, bringing issues pertinent to Hispanics to the attention of the larger academic community, and recognizing achievements of Hispanics in support of higher education. For more about AAHHE, visit www.aahhe.org.
SOURCE Educational Testing Service