Hispanics More Disciplined in Schools

Hispanics More Disciplined in SchoolsThe Department of Education (DOE) recently released new data showing that Hispanic and other minority students might be affected disproportionally by zero tolerance policies. Are these policies effective? And what can you do to ensure your child is being disciplined appropriately?

Though Hispanic students account for only 24% of enrollment in United States schools, they accounted for 37% of school-related arrests in 2009. The survey found that more than 70% of students involved in school-related arrests or referrals to law enforcement were Hispanic or black. It’s obvious that something’s at play.

“The undeniable truth is that the everyday educational experience for too many students of color violates the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan told following the release of the DOE data.

Mother and TV producer Marisol González experienced this difference in treatment first hand. “My son just graduated from a K-8 Catholic school where 80% of students are Hispanic. The school administration, however, is white-Irish. I always noticed that when white kids did something terrible, they were given the lightest punishment but when a Hispanic kid did something much less horrible, they were punished much more severely,” Marisol said.

“Last year, a Hispanic boy got into some trouble with a white girl. The school was not going to allow him to graduate middle school, until I got involved with the mother and helped her uncover what had happened. I also helped her write emails to leave a written trail. In the end, the girl’s responsibility was brought to light and the kid was allowed to graduate. The problem I see is that most Hispanic parents are afraid of interfering for fear that the teachers or the administration will retaliate against their kids.”

Get Informed. Many schools with high Hispanic populations are more likely to have zero-tolerance policies. These policies do not allow administrators to give kids a second chance, and they are seen as sort of the “tough love” policies of modern education. The problem is that they usually don’t work. These policies often have the opposite effect, making teens more likely to lash out and less likely to finish school. According to one study on the effect of these policies, they may actually increase “youth’s criminality by removing them from the school” and the positive support that school offers.

As a parent, you must know your school’s policies and understand whether or not they are working. Print off copies of the DOE report for your own school district. Inform yourself and other parents about the effects of suspensions, expulsions, and arrests on campus so that you can become an advocate for the kids.

Speak Up. Be vocal for your own child, but also for all the students. Join the PTA, if you haven’t already, and don’t be afraid to voice your opinion. Being shy won’t cut it when your child’s educational success is on the line. Call the school administrators, ask questions, demand answers, and if necessary, be that over-involved parent that borders on annoying.

Show and Tell. Show the administrators the research and ask what is being done to change the way they handle their students. If you are uncomfortable with your understanding of your local policies, ask other parents, teachers, or the administrators for help. It’s critical for you to be your child’s advocate and to seek even distribution of disciplinary policies.

“Once they (suspensions) become automatic, we’ve really hurt that child’s chances to receive a high school diploma,” said Dr. Doug Otto the superintendent of Plano Independent School District in Texas in an interview with the New York Times. Just one school suspension can decrease the chances of graduating.

Although teenagers need and demand more independence until they are 18, it’s still your job to know what is happening in school and to intervene on their behalf whenever necessary. Your child’s future depends on your advocacy for them today.

This article was originally published on Mamiverse.

Are Hispanics Just an Abstraction for ‘Time’ Magazine?

Are Hispanics Just an Abstraction for 'Time' Magazine?Back in February, when Time Magazine graced its cover with a group of Latinos and correctly predicted that the Latino voter would define this election, I was hopeful that something in mainstream media might be changing.

That starting then, stories featuring Hispanics would be seamlessly integrated into all other stories. How naïve of me.

Unfortunately, despite the accuracy of its prediction, instead of recognizing that, as a leading news organization it needed to start looking at Hispanics through a different lens, Time continues to look at this population as an abstraction.

“Undocumented immigrants” are now one of the 40 candidates for Time’s “Person of the Year” cover. Is that all Hispanics are to general market publications? The voter? The undocumented immigrant? The low-paid worker? The sexy Latina?

A bunch of stereotypes that don’t deserve sharing the front page, top-50 lists, or individualized recognition side-by-side with non-Hispanic influential people? (And if Time is going to choose an abstraction for this year’s cover, didn’t the Latino voter influence the news more than undocumented immigrants anyway?)

I understand that Hispanics are not a monolithic group and therefore they themselves might be hard-pressed to come up with the name of a leader who they feel represents the entire community. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a host of well-known, high-achieving, critical players on the world stage that could be part of the list from which voters select the “Person of the Year.”

The fact that there aren’t any individual Latino names at all begets the question, how diverse is the network the Time editors are tapping into for recommendations?

My wild guess: not diverse enough.

Above and beyond the political leaders who are shaping this country like U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, or Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, there were plenty of Latino men and women who played relevant roles in the news this year such as Ryan Lochte, María Elena Salinas, Jorge Ramos, Shakira, Sofía Vergara, Felipe Calderón and many others.

You could argue that they are great examples but that they aren’t mainstream enough to have made it to the cover but, you know what? neither would many of the other 39 people listed as candidates, like Psy, Mo Farah, or Sandra Fluke, for that matter. Nevertheless, they are part of the list. Someone got them there. Someone gave them their due.

I was reminded yesterday of how slowly things move when it comes to inclusion when I saw Lincoln, Spielberg’s latest movie.

It’s easy to feel rage and disbelief about people’s narrow mindedness when you watch a bunch of U.S. congressmen viscerally oppose the 13th amendment to end slavery. When you see how terrified they were about black people voting and gaining other rights. (“What’s next – women?” is one of the scariest lines in the movie.)

Yet Lincoln is a timely reminder that although that discussion took place almost 150 years ago, we still have a long way to go to better integrate the different races and ethnicities that make up our country.

And one place where this lack of integration continues to be evident is in our newsrooms. You don’t have to look too hard to find out that media networks, likely in response to their advertisers’ demands, continue to keep their publications and shows segmented. As if our multicultural market had not radically transformed who reads and watches the news at any given time.

Mariela Dabbah’s latest book Poder de Mujer will be out in English April 2013 by Penguin. She’s the founder and CEO of Latinos in College, a not-for-profit organization, and of the Red Shoe Movement, an initiative that invites women to wear red shoes to work on Tuesday to signal their support for other women’s careers.

This article was originally published on Fox News Latino.