By Raoul Lowery Contreras
Economist Thomas Sowell wrote in great detail about California Mexican Americans in his “Ethnic America” and, the fact that their average educational level was 8th grade in 1950. Facts are stubborn things but, then again, facts change.
Today, according to Pew Research, 27 percent of kindergartners nationally are Hispanic; 25 percent of elementary school children are Hispanic and 23 percent of high schoolers are Hispanic.
Two thirds of America’s Hispanics are Mexican American with most of them in California.
Thus, California numbers are important to look at. In California, 50 percent of K-12 students are of Mexican origin. In the 25-54 age group 12 percent of the Mexican-origin cohort have four year college degrees; by comparison, 23 percent of the same age group of Blacks, 42 percent of Whites and 53 percent of Asians have four year college degrees. Adding in community college degrees to the four year degree cohort, 16 percent of California Mexican Americans over 25 have degrees as compared to 38 percent for Whites/Blacks and Asians.
But like a runner’s final kick, California Mexican Americans are bursting out of their traditional lack of higher education with plunging school drop-out rates and exponentially-growing college enrollment. Pew reports that in 2012 Hispanic high school dropouts dropped to a record low 15 percent from 32 percent in 2000. Pew also reports that in 2012, 69 percent of Hispanic high school graduates entered college as against 67 percent of “Whites.” In California 2012 of statewide graduates 49 percent of Hispanics entered college as against 47 percent of Whites and 45 percent of Blacks.
In 1992, of 494,000 California community college students, 14,261 were Hispanic (23.13%). In 2015, of 1,354,000 total students, 600,126 were Hispanic (44.32%).
In 1992, the largest public university in the world, the California State University (CSU) enrolled 347,693 students of which 45,931 were Hispanic. In 2013, total CSU students numbered 446,530 of which 148,939 were Hispanic.
In 1992, the finest public university in the world, the University Of California (UC) had 154,127 students of which 20,083 were Hispanic. In 2013, UC had 238,686 students of which 44,682 were Hispanic.
In 1992 total California public college/University Hispanic enrollment was 80,275. In 2013, 311,547 Hispanics were enrolled in the same colleges and universities, three point eight eight (3.88) times more than twenty years before.
Naturally, as more and more Hispanics nationally and in California graduate from high school and attend college, the educated Hispanic population will grow as children from college educated homes attend college in high numbers and the same phenomenon will occur with their children.
Correlating rising Hispanic high school graduation and college enrollment and graduation with voting augers well for future Hispanic economic and political power. From the embarrassingly low Hispanic 48 percent voter turnout in 2012, Hispanics tend to vote Republican. Studies in Los Angeles for example show that 50 percent of life-long Democrat Hispanic males who earned more than $50,000-a-year in those days, who moved to the suburbs (like Moreno Valley, San Bernardino, Riverside, Rancho Cucamonga) registered as Republicans.
As far as immigrant Hispanics are concerned, in 2004, of those who voted in that Presidential election 80 percent of Hispanic immigrant religious evangelicals voted for Republican President George W. Bush.
All in all, the United States of America is better off economically and politically the more Hispanics are educated; fewer Hispanics are dropping out of school and more Hispanics are being educated beyond the 12th grade. That is good.
I’m a San Diego State (SDSU) Aztec for life. I have a niece in Harvard, another at UC Davis, a nephew who graduated from UCLA another from UC Santa Barbara, a daughter who attended SDSU, a brother with a Masters from the University of San Francisco and another who graduated from UC San Diego. Before I enrolled at SDSU, no member of my family had ever graduated from high school. Our mother had a Mexican 8th grade education. It feels good to know that so many fellow Hispanics are enrolling in college now. Tomorrow is here. ###
Photo from www.collegescholarships.org