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Study Finds Vast Divide for CT Latino Students

Though Latinos are 25 percent of the student population in Connecticut, only 4 percent of teachers in the state are Latino. (pxhere)
Though Latinos are 25 percent of the student population in Connecticut, only 4 percent of teachers in the state are Latino. (pxhere)
July 27, 2018

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Connecticut's 130,000 Latino students often face policies that put them at a disadvantage, according to a new report. The study from Connecticut Voices for Children found that Latino children are twice as likely to be suspended from school as white students, have higher rates of chronic absenteeism, and are far less likely to have a teacher of their own ethnicity.

Report co-author and associate policy fellow at Connecticut Voices, Camara Stokes-Hudson says this is due in large part to policies and practices that often are biased, making kids feel unsupported and even unsafe in school.

"Kids feeling like they have teachers that care about them and understand them, and want to support them, in and out of school, is really important especially for older kids,” says Stokes-Hudson. “So that they are able to go to school and so that parents feel safe and secure sending their children to school."

The report recommends expanding anti-bias training for all school personnel, expanding access to programs that reduce absenteeism and increasing the number of Latino teachers.

Stokes-Hudson points out that Latino children make up one-quarter of Connecticut's public school student body, but only 4 percent of their teachers are Latino.

"That has real impacts for the outcomes that they have, for the graduation rates that they have, for their feelings of themselves as academic people, learners, in their time in Connecticut schools,” says Stokes-Hudson.

On average, Connecticut Latino students' SAT scores are 193 points below white students, and the gap for English-language learners grows to more than 300 points.

School funding is also a critical part of the solution. Stokes-Hudson adds many school districts are only able to give their students very basic levels of support.

"Ensuring that schools have funding that meets their students' needs is essential in ensuring that Latino students are getting access to the types of educational experiences that they need to thrive, and to support Connecticut in the future,” says Stokes-Hudson.

She points out that investing in education is investing in the state's future workers, voters and leaders.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT