PROVIDENCE – While Latinos struggle in Rhode Island’s public schools, as evidenced in the results of a new study, they also represent a majority of the student population in urban districts, and an important segment of the state’s future workforce.
Those are the takeaways that Anna Cano Morales, director of the Latino Policy Institute, thinks matter most when assessing the results of the LPI’s latest study, “Latino Students in Rhode Island: A Review of Local and National Performances.” LPI is a nonprofit affiliated with Roger Williams University.
One of the findings in the report is that the education of Latinos in Rhode Island reflects an achievement gap, compared with white students, that is among the 10 worst in the country.
Coupled with fast population growth here and nationally, as well as pronounced economic disparities, English language learning, which is the study of English language as a second language is, the study says in “a crisis” in this state.
Other findings in the research report, “Latino Students in Rhode Island: A Review of Local and National Performances,” show that nearly three out of four students in Rhode Island’s urban communities are Latino and that Latinos were responsible for all of the state’s population growth between 2000 and 2010.
In addition to being the majority of the student population in Providence and Central Falls schools, Latinos score two to three grade levels behind their white peers in reading and math, LPI reports.
Morales says that these finding are a call to action and must command public leaders’ attention, because Latinos are “no longer the newcomer group.”
“Three of four students in Pawtucket, Central Falls and Providence are Latino,” Morales said. “We’ve beyond arrived. We are the majority population in the urban school district. Therefore, we feel strongly everything having to do with education in the urban districts needs to reflect that demographic.”