As I close my eyes and drift away to a land where there is love, health, peace, and blessings. I wanted to take the time to think and reflect.
The truth is that recently I have been thinking about equity in education at the higher education level. This does not meant to say that everything is equitable at the K-12 levels, because of course there is always more that we can do to ensure that public education systems progress, and evolve with societal evolutions / revolutions, such as technological innovations, or increasing diversity in the classroom.
Financial Equity What has caught my attention is the inequity of access to higher education for the millions of undocumented Latino / Hispanic students, who desire to achieve the goal of post-secondary education. Students are automatically purged away from federal / state aid, that is in essence set-up for low-income students and families. This does not mean to say that Hispanic / Latino students still do not apply for post-secondary education, as they do. Students decide to work to pay for their tuition. Some students don't make it to graduate, and some students do. The students who do make it, are the ones who are able to persist, and remain dedicated to their goals regardless of personal, social, economic, and academic challenges. They are the ones who succeed. Students recognize their goal to remain focused, even with the additional challenge of being an undocumented student.
Seeking Support At the higher education level it is necessary for students to seek support, through the academic support services, but most students don't access these services because of their legal status. Another reason is because Hispanic / Latino students don't feel that they belong. The creation of Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) has alleviated some of the support challenges, as the services are specifically for Hispanic / Latino students. HSI's themselves do face challenges. They find it challenging to get the funding that they need to offer services to a growing, Hispanic / Latino student population. HSI's are created to meet the needs of these diverse students. For this to happen there needs to be training, qualified and an educated staff to meet the needs of the students. We can see how the creation of HSI's early phases needs to be able to get, and keep diverse staff. Just because enrolment is high, it will not necessarily suggest that there is enough diverse staff to be able to serve the students. There is an opportunity here for international, or out-of-state hiring to ensure that the current, and future Hispanic / Latino cohort attending post-secondary institutions retain their students. They are developing the Hispanic / Latino leaders of tomorrow. And for the students born in the U.S., or who eventually gain status, they will be vital to serve the Hispanic / Latino communities in America. So in a sense what we invest in today, is a preparation and return on investment for tomorrow. Integration Similar to HBCU's, the HSI's also indicated a challenge towards integration of Hispanic / Latino students into the American culture. This is especially a concern for institutions in regions such as Puerto-Rico. Integration as well as serving minority students, should be the eventual goal as well. We can think about how we can model this type of integration, where we think that we are all learning from each other, and break away from the the inferiority / superiority complex. To exemplify my thoughts we present a current example, where Kanye West tweeted his support for President Trump. He received a backlash from thousands who unfollowed him, or blocked him on twitter. Kim Kardashian defended his action. The response from this tweeting scenario is unfortunate, as it should have been viewed as an opportunity, to reveal that there can be disagreement of political opinions, but also an opportunity for intersectional dialogue between the "races". The backlash demonstrated the need for open-mindedness, and understanding between the races, if we are to move towards integration.
Diverse Dialogues / Mentorships These thoughts can also be used to demonstrate the need for serving population segments, but also creating diverse dialogues, where there are partnerships with post-secondary institutions who's student populations are different. Diverse dialogues are an opportunity to increase the success of minority students, and all who are involved in discussions, as everyone is learning from each other. Mentorship can also assist Hispanic / Latino students. Minority students gain access to someone who has, or is navigating through higher education, and also someone who they gain networks from. Students can ask a peer, or a graduate student questions, where they might not feel as comfortable with a professional service provider. Mentors can be a source of access to information, such as where and how to gain access to scholarships, or academic support. There is much work being done in states where students can't access federal / state aid, campus initiatives, student clubs, and HSI's. However, there is always a need for improvement as students populations grow. Rather than having some students graduate, we must ensure that all are able to fulfil their goal to graduate. For this goal achievement, it also includes my previous ideas of immigration reform, and thinking about how to enhance education equity for Hispanic / Latino, and undocumented students at the higher levels.