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In a country where “all men are created equal”, there is something inequitable happening. Our public education system, which was established to give all citizens an impartial education, has failed. In the February 7th, 2001 edition of the San Diego Union Tribune, Annette Fuentes points out in her opinion article, “Our schools are failing young Latinas”, that there is a great iniquity with in the public education system. In many nationwide studies the same results have consistently come back – Latin-American females, or Latinas, are failing more than any other ethnic group. The studies state that 23% of Latinas are high school dropouts, and only 29% are college graduates, with only 5% graduating with a bachelor degree. Something is very wrong, and many are starting to turn the finger pointing from students to the public education system. In her article, Fuentes addresses many possibilities on the roots of this problem as well as many solutions. In my opinion, Fuentes is horrifyingly accurate in her description of this problem. Through my own experiences, it has become increasingly clear to me that the problem with Latinas failing is due to environment in which they live. The problem is not the students, the problem is the social and parental pressures, stereotypes, and the profound influence these pressures have upon their ability to learn.
Social pressures play a huge part in our everyday lives. We are puppets which are forced to do what society asks of us and limited by it’s standards. You have standards and expectations given to you by society before you are even born. Sadly, some of those standards are incorrect, and expectations much too low. The Latina group is one example of this social misdeed. The pressures that many Latinas bear come from friends and family. Their families believe it is time they got married and started a family instead of continuing on their education, and their friends believe that being smart is a flaw, that intellect shouldn’t be flaunted but instead buried. To take a nonconformist perspective and break this mold is social suicide that most do not have courage to face so they continue to live on content with what little society has offered them. This must end, and for it to end it the solution must be implemented beginning with schools. Teachers must encourage Latinas to work harder, to study more, to break the mold and reach their full potential.
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them, should work with them. Once the schools have changed, the elite few will follow. With enough of these students following these ambitious pursuits, the stereotypes will fall and society’s expectations will rise.
Stereotypes are a part of human nature. We associate future and present experiences with previous experiences whether or not they are our own. Intellectual-deficiency and failure are stereotypes that have always hovered above the heads of Latinas. These stereotypes may hinder our ability to treat everybody equally and I have seen this happen many times to many people. A teacher will be more condescending towards a Latina than another ethnic group, he will be more prone to suspect cheating when a Latina gets an “A” on a test than another ethnic group, and it will be harder for that student to succeed in the class because of the teacher. Although teachers do not mean to do this, it is, after all, human nature; they need to be more aware of this so it can be more easily prevented. I, myself, have found that I too am stereotyping many Latinas before ever knowing them. I have caught myself many times being surprised when a Latina got a higher test score or better essay than I did. Stopping stereotypes is not an easy task but adding to the awareness that we all do it and that it hinders others ability to learn will eventually lead to a better environment for Latinas to expand their education.
Though the problem of Latinas failing their classes cannot be entirely prevented by society or schools alone, that is where it should start. The stereotypes, the social pressures, they all play a huge influence on Latinas ability and motivation for learning. If the education wants to truly be equal to all, it must give all an equal playing field – one with no stereotypes or social pressures. Annette Fuentes’ article is one step closer to this goal of educational equality. In conclusion, I believe Annette Fuentes to be absolutely correct in everything she said. I believe that she should be applauded for voicing her opinion loud and clear, and I believe that this problem is not unsolvable or ignorable. Education is the future of America and the future cannot be ignored or avoided.