Editorial: Influential Latinos Call Parent Involvement the Key to Reducing Latino Dropout Rates. Susana Martinez Should Quit Trying to Shut Parents Out

Susana Martinez is still trying to eliminate a parent’s right to make critical decisions about his or her own children’s education. Martinez’s efforts run counter to calls by nationally prominent Latinos, who call parental involvement the key to reversing high dropout rates among Latinos.

In a special report entitled “How Latinos are Changing America”, Parade Magazine, the most widely read magazine in America, interviewed several influential Latinos including Julian Castro, the mayor of San Antonio, Texas on ways of reversing high drop out rates among Latinos. Castro stated that the secret of his educational success was, “parents who acted, almost like watchdogs”.

Linda Alvarado, the CEO of Denver’s Alvarado Construction and a co-owner of the Colorado Rockies told Parade, “we need parental involvement” to reduce the dropout rate. Alvarado described a program in Denver where public school teachers meet with parents in the family home, as one key form of outreach.

There is definitive research that shows that children who are forced to repeat third-grade have a higher dropout rate than those who continue on to fourth-grade. So with clear-cut evidence and nationally prominent Latinos calling for more parental involvement why are Martinez and Hanna Skandera, Martinez’s education secretary-designate, pushing so hard for mandatory retention?

Perhaps it is because neither Martinez nor Skandera have ever had a child in public school and they just don’t see things from a parent’s perspective. But more likely, it is because Martinez is trying to curry favor with the “spare the rod spoil the child” set of the Republican Party. The voters she needs to win over in order to someday appear on a national ticket.

Martinez and Skandera have already shown hostility towards minority education including seeking legal advice to make an end run around New Mexico’s statutes that allow those seeking an alternate route to a high school diploma to do so in their native languages.

Martinez should listen to those with a better understanding of minority education and drop her insistence on eliminating a parent’s right to make critical education decisions. Instead, Martinez would do well to heed the wisdom of others and seek ways to better engage parents in the education process.

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