Why Aren’t Latino Kids Going to Preschool?

June 1, 2013  |  
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It’s not news that the Latino community in the United States is booming, with more Latinos than ever graduating from high school and college. But when it comes to younger children in school, it doesn’t look as good. According to a new report from NBCLatino, Latino kids aren’t going to preschool. In fact, they’re heading to high school at lower numbers than any other group in the country, and when it comes to Latinos catching up, that might be the biggest problem.

Says Education Secretary Arne Duncan, “This is the fastest-growing population and a lower-than-average participation rate… You’re 5-years-old and you’re entering school one to two years behind and you wonder why we have an achievement gap.” Duncan believes if more Latinos were in preschool—right now, about two-thirds stay home—the achievement gap could close by up to 26 percent.

So why aren’t kids getting to preschool? Certainly, access to good programs, or any programs, is part of the problem. But it may also be partly a question of culture. Family is everything, and if there’s an abuela or tia that can watch the kids before kindergarten, there’s less incentive to trust children to strangers. But Duncan and other educators insist attitude and access have to change to close the achievement gap, or prevent it in the first place.

Did you have a hard time sending your babies to preschool?

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