WYSO

Graduating Latino

WYSO's Lewis Wallace interviewing Trotwood-Madison High School teacher Alicia Pagan.
Credit Juliet Fromholt / WYSO

Graduating Latino is WYSO's series on education for Latino students in the Miami Valley, produced in partnership with Think TV. It's part of the public media initiative American Graduate, which is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

In much of the Miami Valley the Latino population has gone from about 2 percent in the mid-2000s, to 4 percent now. Around half the local Latino population is from Mexico, which means the other half represent a big cross-section: many Puerto Ricans, and people from Central and South America. The population is a mix of foreign-born and U.S.-born representing a diverse set of experiences.

The launching point for this series is a persistent disparity in high school graduation rates between white and Latino students. In 2012 the graduation rate for white students in Ohio was 86 percent; for Latinos, it was 68, and for Black students it was 61 percent.  Those racial and ethnic disparities also exist nationally, but the white/Hispanic disparity is much wider in Ohio than in the nation.

Some local districts, especially Dayton, are looking at low graduation rates across the board. Latino kids fall through the cracks, but they’re not the only ones.

The good news is, dropout rates in this country have been falling for decades now—for all students, and for Latinos especially. The percentage of Latino high schoolers to drop out completely went from 40 percent in 1972 to 15 percent in 2012. In the process of reporting these series we’ve met a lot of kids who are doing great, graduating and going to college. We also found that many of the kids who do drop out or don’t graduate on time are dealing with the same issues: the need to support their families, a belief that they can’t go on to college, or overwhelming life circumstances.

The stories will range from preschool and kindergarten readiness to bilingual education to personal profiles of people dealing with not having legal status while trying to go to school. We’ll also hear about positive programs like El Puente in the Twin Towers neighborhood, Springfield’s Hispanic Outreach Program and a group of Puerto Rican Engineers working to mentor kids. We’ll visit high schools in Dayton and Trotwood. It’s by no means comprehensive, but we hope it will show a slice of what’s going on in this rich and diverse community.

Look for stories from our whole news team from April 13-24 in our weekday news shows, Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as online every day. You can also access local stories from WYSO through your smartphone on wyso.org or through the free app NPROne.

 

This week, a free screening of the new documentary film, Vanishing Borders will take place at the Madden Hills Library in Dayton. The film gives viewers a look into the lives of four immigrant women living in New York City and transforming their communities. Then after the film, director and producer, Alexandra Hidalgo, will discuss the documentary with author Katrina Kittle and member of the audience. Kittle is a former teacher and mentor of Hidalgo's.

Jerry Kenney

At El Puente Tutoring Center in the Twin Towers district in Dayton, students are preparing balloons for an experiment. Their instructor, Edgardo Santiago, is a chemical engineer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. He says the experiment was inspired by a recent post he saw on Facebook that claimed gas from mixing vinegar and baking soda could be used to float birthday balloons.

“A lot of my friends were, ‘Oh yeah, this is such a great idea. I’m going to try it,’ and I’m like, I’m gonna educate you guys,” he said.

Yocelyn Mendoza-Esparza (left) and Emily Espinoza-Lopez are learning English at Park Layne Elementary School in New Carlisle. tecumseh latino
Lewis Wallace / WYSO

Tecumseh School District, just outside of Springfield, includes the tiny towns of New Carlisle and Medway—and a whole lot of farm fields and two-lane highways.

“This is a cow,” says English paraprofessional Liz Toro. She’s giving two little girls at Park Layne Elementary their daily English lesson. “What sound does a cow make?” she says, pointing at a picture of a cow. “Moo! Yes.”

A Dayton Mother Looks In From The Outside

Apr 22, 2015
Nube with her teenage daughter, Kimberly. latino
Juliet Fromholt / WYSO

Nube’s trying to get her kids out the door to school. Her six-year-old comes running down the stairs; her 15-year-old is up in the bedroom getting dressed. She and her children aren’t even five feet tall, but they fill up the kitchen bustling around trying to eat and get ready.

Nube is a compact woman with a wide smile—and she came a long way to Dayton. We’re not using Nube’s full name because she asked us to withhold it for her protection.

 

“I’m trying to forget about this forever”

Dayton's Belmont High School has become a hub for Latino students.
Ariel Van Cleave / WYSO

In the process of reporting the Graduating Latino series, WYSO found out that Latino students who attend private schools in Dayton have a better chance at success than their public school counterparts and there are a few reasons why.

When Laura Yuqui first arrived in Dayton, she sent her son Jason to one of the city’s public elementary schools. And as she explained through an interpreter, things didn’t go well.

Students have a chance to get help with school through the outreach program. hispanic springfield latino
Scott Marshall / Springfield City Schools

Most recently on Graduating Latino, we visited Trotwood-Madison schools to learn about challenges for Latino students. Now we head to Clark County, where the number of kids identified as Hispanic doubled from 2002 to 2012. The Springfield City School District is reaching outside of the classroom to help families succeed.

A Teacher In Trotwood Tries To Bridge Multiple Gaps

Apr 19, 2015
Marcus Jordan is a senior at Trotwood-Madison High School. latino
Juliet Fromholt / WYSO

Today in Graduating Latino, we head to Trotwood—a community that’s trying to get on its feet after years of losing jobs and industry. At Trotwood-Madison High School, teachers are scrambling to help struggling students. But in this case, the Latino population is very small, just over one percent.

One Spanish teacher, Alicia Pagan is trying to bridge the gaps between Latino and Black students—while dealing with even bigger problems.

Javier meets with an immigration lawyer to find out what his options are for going to college. latino
Jonathan Platt / WYSO

Outside Javier’s house in Twin Towers, we’re looking under the hood of my car, a ‘98 Camry. He teaches me the difference between a line-4 and a V-4 engine—I’m just concerned about whether my car is okay at this point.

“It looks pretty nice, yeah,” says Javier. Maybe he’s just being polite.

Javier is a star student in Rick Seither's automotive class at David H. Ponitz Career Technology Center. But he's not sure whether he can go on to college.  latino
Jonathan Platt / WYSO

Inside a huge garage at the David H. Ponitz Career Technology Center, there are ten or so cars in different stages of being fixed, and about a dozen hydraulic lifts. Instructor Rick Seither calls his students over for a mini-lesson.

Despite Obstacles, Latinos Surge Ahead To College

Apr 14, 2015
graduation cap high school college
gsagri04 / Openclipart

The Graduating Latino series is looking at both the obstacles and successes of Latino families navigating the education system in the Miami Valley. But recent research from the Pew Research Center finds the story of Latinos and education in the U.S. is a rapidly changing one: in 2012, the percentage of Hispanic high school graduates who went on to college exceeded that of their white counterparts.

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