Academic journal article Centro Journal

Minding/Mending the Puerto Rican Education Pipeline in New York City

Academic journal article Centro Journal

Minding/Mending the Puerto Rican Education Pipeline in New York City

Article excerpt


New York City has been the gateway city in the United States for the Puerto Rican migration as well as the locus for a significant proportion of the Puerto Rican student population. They continue to experience chronic underachievement as reflected in what has been characterized as a "leaky education pipeline." Puerto Rican youth face numerous social and economic barriers and have been concentrated in high schools where students have less than a 50/50 chance of graduating on time. These schools also spent less-per-pupil, were more segregated, and more overcrowded when compared with their affluent, white majority suburban counterparts. Now, many of these so-called "dropout factories" in Puerto Rican/Latino neighborhoods are being subjected to closing, restructuring or phasing out. Despite these realities, there is a dearth of publicly available, Puerto Rican-specific student data at all junctures in the education pipeline. This paper discusses what we know about the "leaky pipeline" absent such data and analyzes the possible policy and programmatic solutions in light of the larger "education reform" climate in New York and in the U.S. as a whole. [Keywords: Puerto Rican, educational pipeline, minding and mending, disparities, New York City]

NEW YORK CITY, THE GATEWAY IN THE CONTINENTAL U.S. FOR THE PUERTO RICAN MIGRATION, HAS BEEN THE LOCUS FOR A SIGNIFICANT PROPORTION OF THE PUERTO RICAN "EDUCATION PIPELINE." De Jesús and Vasquez (2005) defined the larger Latino education pipeline in New York State as "the distribution of Latinos enrolled in pre-school through graduate and professional school... as well as the education attainment levels of the adult population over 25 years of age." According to the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (2012), Latinos made up 19.2 percent of the total population and 21 percent of the K-12 population in New York State in the 2009-2010 school year.

As of 2010, Puerto Ricans remained the largest national sub-group among all Latinos in New York State at 31.6 percent (U.S. Census Bureau 2011) and 30.8 percent of the total Latino population of New York City that same year (U.S. Census Bureau 2011). However, Puerto Ricans only made up 26 percent of Latino youth (ages 16 through 24) in New York City with Dominican youth having eclipsed them in numbers at 29 percent (Treschan 2010).

Whatever their evolving status in the demographics of New York City, Puerto Ricans continue to face numerous social and economic barriers along with poor academic achievement, high dropout rates and low college enrollment and graduation rates. This report seeks to answer the following research questions:

1. How well or poorly are Puerto Ricans, in particular, youth between 16 and 24 years of age, faring academically in New York City?

2. How are Puerto Rican males faring among the youth population compared to Puerto Rican females and male youth from other Latino subgroups in New York City?

3. What would "minding" or "mending" the problem of chronic underachievement and limited educational attainment of Puerto Rican students in New York City involve besides enumerating statistics?

We bring attention to this Latino subgroup's educational status at a time when regular, public reporting at the city, state, and federal levels is mostly limited to documenting enrollment and educational attainment levels at the aggregate "Hispanic" or "Latino" level. This report uses federal census data (U.S. Census Bureau 2011) as well as data from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (US DOE-NCES 2011). It also looks at student enrollment and educational attainment data publicly available from the New York City Department of Education (New York City Department of Education 2009), The City University of New York (CUNY Office of Policy Research 2011), and the New York State Education Department (2010). While disaggregated Latino student data are collected by city and state agencies and reported to the federal government, they are not presented formally and annually to either elected officials and/or appointed bodies of city and state government or to the public, including the parents of public school students. …

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