Latinos have a more positive outlook on public schools than non-Hispanic whites and blacks, despite concerns that their children face cultural misunderstanding and language barriers, according to a survey released Monday.
The study by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that a slight majority of Hispanics believe that schools are too quick to label Latino children as having learning or behavioral problems. They also worry that teachers don’t push their kids to work hard enough.
Yet, 45 percent said schools have improved in the last five years. Only 25 percent of whites and 31 percent of blacks felt that way.
The survey found that Hispanics were also more likely to approve of President Bush’s education program, and more likely to favor the strict accountability standards he pushed through Congress.
This, it said, was despite a finding that most Hispanics who expressed a party preference said they trusted Democrats more than Republicans to deal with education.
Overall, Hispanics surveyed didn’t consider themselves particularly disadvantaged in the education system, even though nearly half thought teachers were not bridging the cultural gap in the classroom and close to half identified language problems.
Hispanics also said performance problems could be associated with ethnic stereotypes. Forty-three percent said teachers and principals have lower expectations for Hispanic students.
Most Hispanic parents said they are actively involved in their child’s education — they attend Parent Teacher Association meetings, participate in fund raising or volunteer in school.
The survey was conducted by telephone between Aug. 7 and Oct. 15 among a nationally representative sample of 3,421 adults selected at random. Of those interviewed, 1,508 were Hispanic or Latino origin or descent. No margin of error was given.
Sixty-seven percent of Hispanics agree the federal government should require states to set strict performance standards for public schools, while 75 percent said standardized testing should be used to determine whether students are promoted or can graduate.
Forty-one percent of Hispanics said Bush was doing a good or excellent job on education; only 34 percent of whites and 17 percent of blacks said so.
One in six children in the United States is Hispanic, and by 2020 the number is expected to be nearly one in four. Hispanics outnumber any other demographic group in the country’s largest school districts, and their enrollment is booming in American suburbs too.
More than one in three Hispanics — 36 percent — drop out of high school, although those born in the United States do better. About 16 percent of blacks and 8 percent of whites don’t finish high school.
On test scores, 75 percent of whites score better than Hispanic students in reading, math and science. Just one in 10 Hispanics graduates from a four-year college or university.