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Joshua Higbee

Mequette M. Sorensen

Mexican-American Culture ETHS 2430

April 27, 2017

Mexican American Final Paper

I chose high school student dropout rates as my Mexican American

issue. Every year over 3 million students drop out of high school in the

United States of America. That is 8.3 thousand a day! Hispanic students have

the highest percentage of dropouts (15.1 Percent of Hispanics in 2014)

compared to any other ethnicity (Asian American holds the lowest

percentage at 2.1 percent). (Stats from Statistic Brain)

The aforementioned percentages are lower than they were 50 years

ago, but the fact that Hispanics had the highest percentage of dropouts has

been the same. For 50 years! Hispanics have gone from 34.3 percent in 1970

to 15.1 percent. Staying at the highest percentage drop outs per ethnic


In the 2000 census, the percentage for Hispanics older than 25 that

have a high school diploma or equivalent is only 52.4 percent (85.5 percent

in Whites). Also, the percentage of Hispanics with a bachelors degree or

higher was at 10.4 percent (27 percent in whites). (National Education

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The reasons why this is an issue, is first and foremost that with a high

school diploma someone will make roughly 260,000 dollars more than those

without. Also, the amount of crimes in the United States of America

committed by a high school dropout is 75 percent. Another reason is that

without a high school diploma someone only qualifies for 10 percent of jobs

in the United States.

So now what are the reasons as to why Mexican Americans have the

highest percentage of dropout students? Well pregnancy accounts for 41

percent of Hispanic drop outs! Putting female dropout rates high for

Hispanics since they have to stay home to take care of the child. Some have

to work to support their families. You also have Hispanics struggling learning

English, and some leaving school to be in gangs (School system fails and

they are pushed out).

What are my reasonable ideas to fix the problem? Sex Education is a

good idea since pregnancy is high and it can also help with the issues of STD

and STI transmission among Hispanics. My main idea is that more teachers

should be required or very encouraged to have an ESL or bilingual education

(or be bilingual themselves). This would help ELL (English Language

Learners) to be more connected in school and get a better understanding of

things taught (like sex education which is my second idea to lower the

dropout rates). Hopefully changing their thinking and future decision making.
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There a very few teachers that have bilingual backgrounds or ESL

experience. By increasing teachers who have this, you should see a decrease

in students disconnecting and leaving school. You should also hopefully have

better understanding in sex education, also having teachers with the ability

to teach it in Spanish with students and students parents could help greatly.

Teachers could also use a translator or teach sex education if possible in

Spanish to Spanish speaking parents, on how to educate their children on the

dangers of unprotected/no contraceptive intercourse. (National Education


This idea could have a huge range in cost, from being free (actually

costing the teachers a few hundred for the classes but free for school

districts) if you have teachers who want to learn on their own to better serve

their students, to costing the school districts, state, or government

thousands upon thousands.

First and foremost, as a future educator myself I am personally

dedicated to work more on my Spanish, and take an ESL course to become

the best teacher I can be. I hope other teachers and future teachers can

have the same dedication. Another solution is passing legislature that would

update the requirements to be a teacher. They could add Spanish and ESL to

the Education major requirements, or for specific school districts only hiring

those with that education. This would probably upset some teachers but it

would be for the best of their students and if they dont understand that they

probably shouldnt be teaching.

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Second having the government or school district pay for these classes.

This would be needed for those who are already teachers, helping set them

up with classes might cost them upwards of a thousand dollars per teacher.

This could be done either before or as a reimbursement. This plan would be

cheaper than giving a salary increase to all teachers who have finished

Spanish and or ESL courses. Though this would be the better option to help

encourage teachers to take the class on their own and hopefully take it more


Lastly the option of increasing the salary of teachers with ESL and

Spanish background. This would be the most expensive option, even if it was

just a thousand dollars per teacher, there are a lot of teachers. I also think

that teachers that test fluently in Spanish should be paid more, on top of the

salary raise for talking the ESL course for their students.

In the state of Utah teachers are vastly underpaid (which is why I dont

plan on teaching in this state). So, I believe some states could definitely

afford the pay increases, though I dont know which states would actually be

courteous enough to actually give it to the deserving teachers. In Utah, it

should also help increase the number of teachers by increasing peoples

interests in the field of education (or like some of the people I know who

gave it up just cause they were so underpaid in Utah).

There is a fair amount of areas of resistance. First and foremost,

ignorant teachers (who probably shouldnt be teachers) could say Spanish

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speakers need to learn English if they live here, not the other way around.

Other area of resistance would be current teachers being too busy with their

life to take the class (which giving them an exception by only requiring new

teachers to take the class while majoring in education).

The other area of resistance is cost, with most things money is a huge

factor of actually getting things to happen. Can the public fund this? Can the

school district or state pay for it? Either way the public would have to support

the solution a lot to get the funding from the public or state/government. The

solution could be self-funded by dedicated teachers, but that is asking a lot

of underpaid individuals in Utah. In order for this to actually be considered as

a solution I am sure there will have to be a lot of politics played with the

school legislature.

After really thinking about this issue and its possible solutions, I

realized that most issues are a buildup of more issues that are lacking

solutions. Having those problems solved will help solve the big problem a


For instance, the problem I chose of high school dropout rates, has the

aforementioned problems of teen pregnancy, language, family economics,

and feeling pushed out as sub problems. Each of these sub problems require

a different approach/solution. The other problems I saw presented in class

usually had the same thing unless they were addressing a sub problem, and

even some of those still had other issues beyond them.

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Lets take Hispanic teen pregnancy rate since thats 41 percent of my

issue. It has sub issues, first off there is the issue of self-esteem problems

(prevalent in teens, even more so amongst Hispanics and African

Americans). Then you have the added problem of kids/girls hitting puberty

faster now than they used to (a lot of people blame added hormones in

food). Then the strong Catholicism which leads Hispanic teens to keep the

child (anti-abortion which I agree with being pro-life). Again, there isnt one

magic solution, one single cure all.

I believe with both problems the real solution comes down to

communication among role models for the children, including the parents,

teachers, and religious groups included. I know church and state (teachers)

have to be separate but this is where communication to the parents is key.

Back to my solution, I thought a lot about what I think would truly help

Mexican American/Hispanic students, and the biggest start to a solution is

having teachers be more active about the issues and better communicating

them with the parents and students, an added area of resistance is talking

sex education is very controversial and when I went through school. I only

heard about it in the fourth grade, then I didnt have any instruction in school

again till my sophomore year in health class. I know of only the letter that

went home letting my parents know that I was being instructed on the class.

I believe more communication can be done and it will help lead to a

network of fixes/cures. This will also address the problems personally for
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individual students, and not just Mexican American students, but all


I interviewed substitute teacher Joseph Colvin who seems like the

future me oddly enough. He agreed with my statements and surprised me by

saying he is learning Spanish. He substitutes for Spanish classes a lot. He

agrees teachers should have Spanish language backgrounds and or ESL. He

took it a step further though and said that administration should too. I fully

agree teachers should have Spanish and ESL experience, but I believe more

people need to do so. That the public should have basic conversation skills.

He continued to say I actually get into trouble at my other job because I

chat to much with South Americans en espaol. They are the greatest, and

friendliest people. I just love it.

As a future educator, I am dedicated to this change. I am determined

to study and learn Spanish. I am dedicated to the communication with my

students and their parents. I am dedicated to making this world a better

place, leaving my own mark for future generations and teachers. I will be

taking both Spanish and ESL, as well as spending time in Spanish

communities. I will make a difference, one student at a time!

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References/Works Cited

Statistic Brain, March 17, 2015

High School Dropout Statistics, Education.

National Educational Association

Hispanics: Education Issues.

NPR Tell Me More

Why Do More Latinos Get Pregnant? April 14, 2014.


Joseph Colvin

Substitute teacher,