UT-Austin professor discusses need to focus on Hispanic males
College convocation introduces Foundation of Excellence project on completion.
Published: Friday, August 24, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 14:08
The education pipeline is seeing a growing trend of more Hispanic females than males, Dr. Victor Sáenz, an assistant professor in the department of education at the University of Texas at Austin, said Monday at the college convocation in McAllister Fine Arts Center.
Sáenz said this is because Hispanic males are getting caught up in personal responsibilities, special education, school discipline and isolation on campus.
Sáenz is also a faculty affiliate with the Center for Mexican American Studies and a Faculty Fellow with the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin.
He was named Diversity Magazine’s “One of 25 to Watch” diversity leaders in higher education in 2009.
Over the past few years, Sáenz has interviewed about 190 Hispanic male students in two- and four-year colleges across the state to get their opinion about their experience in college.
At this college, Sáenz and a focus group found that Hispanic males feel like they have to work and support their family rather than get an education.
He said when they do get to college, they might feel left out or will not ask for help.
He said there is a growing gender gap in educational attainment: One-sixth of male students and one-fourth of female students graduate with a form of higher education, such as a two- or four-year degree or certification.
Three out of five associate or bachelor’s degrees earned by Hispanics were earned by females in 2010, Sáenz said.
“We have now a set of data evidence seeking to indicate that there is indeed a need to statewide imperative around male students, particularly through a high education pipeline,” Sáenz said.
Sáenz said Hispanic males get discouraged in grade school with “prescribed policy regime,” such as testing.
“That actually limits the amount of pathological creativity and innovation that can happen in early childhood,” he said. “There’s no room for creativity and adaptability.”
He said African-American and Hispanic males are over-represented in the special education and school discipline pipeline.
In this country, males constitute more than two-thirds of the special education population, Sáenz said.
African-American and Hispanic males are also more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, ADD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, he said.
He also said African-American and Hispanic males are twice as likely to be held back a grade.
Males are highly represented in the school discipline pipeline because males who are in the juvenile justice system are three times more likely to end up in a prison system.
He said of the 2.1 million inmates in the federal, state or local prisons, 70 percent are African-American or Hispanic males; 45 percent are African-American and 25 percent are Hispanic.
“I’m not suggesting that these young men don’t have some personal responsibility or actions, and this means to ultimately lead them down that path, but there’s a set of policies effectively perpetuating some life opportunities for these young men,” Sáenz said.
Sáenz said he recommends the community know about their local demographic data and disseminate research.
He also said school programs should be designed or redesigned with men in mind.
People should also educate others about the gender gap in education.
It is also best to engage Hispanic male roles as early as possible.
Sáenz said good things students said about this college is that faculty and staff make themselves available to students.
When the faculty and employees are there for their students, it makes the students feel important.
For more information, visit projectmales.org.
In other news from the college convocation, President Robert Zeigler announced the college will undergo a self-study called Foundations of Excellence.
This college’s campaign is titled From the Ground Up and its purpose is to evaluate the college environment dealing with transfer-bound students.
Zeigler said the goal of the next two years is to focus on completion and transfer.
“We are tying those two things together because obviously they are tied together,” Zeigler said.
Zeigler said there are specific things this college needs to work on, like serving the underserved populations, specifically Hispanic males.
“We are going to really focus on trying to do something to help Hispanic males,” he said. “We all know that males are lagging behind females in college enrollment and success, but it’s more pronounced among Hispanic males.”
Zeigler said bettering services to Hispanic males will be tied in to the Foundations of Excellence campaign.
A Foundations of Excellence task force will examine the college and submit a report about how the college can improve during the first year.
During the second year, the action plan will be implemented.
The task force will consist of about 100 employees at this college.
The cost for the first year of the Foundations of Excellence was paid for by the district.
The second year’s cost is anticipated but will be budgeted in.
The cost for each year is around $20,000 and will be used for surveys, reviews, plans, coaching and help with implementation.
For more information, visit alamo.edu/sac/fromthegroundup.