U.S. Educational Outcomes and the New Latino Immigrant
CONNIE L. MCNEELY and ALBERTO FIGUEROA-GARCIA
IJED, Vol. 5 No. 4, (2003)
Population projections indicate that the Latino population as a whole will become the largest single ethnic group in the United States (U.S.) by 2020, a significant portion of which can be attributed to immigration. While the U.S. Latino population consists largely of Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban descent groups, recent immigrants hail increasingly from Central and South American countries, leading to even greater population diversity. Disproportionately poor and unskilled, Latino immigrants enter the U.S. hoping for economic gain and a rising living standard for themselves and their families. Thus, as have other groups, they seek educational opportunities as a means for social and economic mobility. However, Latinos have been particularly marginalized in terms of educational outcomes in the U.S. We examine this problem against recent demographic changes, tracking educational achievement for the U.S. Latino population in general and new immigrants in particular. Analyzing these outcomes in light of societal stratification and inter- and intra-group structural relations, we develop a critical assessment of them relative to current policy perspectives and propose an alternative policy approach to education based on cultural dynamics reflected in patterns of interaction within and between the groups in question and the broader society.