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Colleges Take Note: The Future of California is the Future of Latinx Californians

The Campaign for College Opportunity has released its “State of Higher Education” report for Latinx Californians, and it has a simple, powerful, message: “The future of California will be defined by whether we ensure better educational opportunity for Latinx Californians.”

That’s because nearly 40 percent of Californians are Latinx, making them the single largest ethnic group; over half of California’s K-12 students are Latnix, and 52% of high school graduates. These students are heavily invested in our public institutions: Nine out of 10 Latinx undergraduates in California attended a public college or university in 2018-2019.

Which makes it all the more shocking that, according to the report, only four in 10 college undergraduates are Latinx, a significant drop, and “only 14 percent of Latinx adults have a bachelor’s degree, reflecting the lowest rates of degree attainment of any racial/ethnic subgroup in California.”

Further, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, nearly half of the students who have had to drop out of community college as a result of the pandemic are Latinx. 

While more and more Latinx Californians are attaining college degrees, the education gap — as we’ve noted before — remains stubbornly persistent, and may even be getting worse. The Campaign for College Opportunity concludes that we are simply not doing enough to support Latinx Californians as they go through the education system.

“Latinx students are not supported to earn associate degrees and certificates at the same rates as their white peers at the California Community Colleges, and only one out of ten (11 percent) Latino students enrolling in 2015-16 graduated within four years,” the report says.

What can be done? 

The report concludes with a host of recommendations covering everything from K-12 education to recommendations for each of the California college systems to advancing state and federal policies. 

As a public community college, Calbright is the kind of educational institution that California’s Latinx population is most heavily invested in. We are constantly working to take down barriers: our model makes our programs free, online, flexible, and offers many points of contact and support to give students opportunities they need. 

That’s why Calbright’s student body not only represents the changing demographics of California, but also its mission to serve non-traditional students. 94% of our students are 25 and older, compared to 44% across the CA Community Colleges system, and 55% of Calbright students identify as Latinx and/or Black.”

We’re one of many measures the state of California will need to take to secure success for both its economy and its people. What we know for sure, as this report points out, is that the two go together. 

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