December 22, 2009 By Gretchen Livingston, Kim Parker, and Susannah Fox
From 2006 to 2008, internet use among Latino adults rose by 10 percentage points, from 54% to 64%. In comparison, the rates for whites rose four percentage points, and the rates for blacks rose only two percentage points during that time period. Though Latinos continue to lag behind whites, the gap in internet use has shrunk considerably.
For Latinos, the increase in internet use has been fueled in large part by increases in internet use among groups that have typically had very low rates of internet use. In particular, foreign-born Latinos, Latinos with less than a high school education, and Latinos with household incomes of less than $30,000 experienced particularly large increases in internet use.
Whereas Latinos gained markedly in overall internet use, the pattern of home internet access changed very little. In 2006, 79% of Latinos who were online had internet access at home, while in 2008, this number was 81%. White and black internet users show a similar leveling off. In 2006, 92% of white internet users had a home connection, compared with 94% in 2008. In 2006, 84% of African American internet users had a home connection, compared with 87% in 2008.
While there was little increase in the likelihood of having a home connection among internet users from 2006 to 2008, rates of broadband connection increased dramatically for Hispanics, as well as for whites and blacks. In 2006, 63% of Hispanics with home internet access had a broadband connection; in 2008 this number was 76%. For whites, there was a 17 percentage point increase in broadband connection from 65% to 82%, and for blacks, the increase was from 63% in 2006 to 78% in 2008.
These results are derived from a compilation of eight landline telephone surveys conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Internet & American Life Project from February to October 2006, and from August to December 2008. In total, the Pew Hispanic Center surveys included 7,554 adults, and the Pew Internet & American Life Project surveys interviewed 13,687 adults.
The term Hispanic is used to describe the culture and people of countries formerly ruled by Spain, usually with a majority of the population speaking the Spanish language. These include Mexico and the majority of the Central and South American countries. And with that culture, as noted by Hispanic students in Pelican Rapids, are Christmas customs far different from those in the United States.
“In Mexico we receive gifts when we celebrate the Epiphany with the three wise men (kings), on Jan. 6,” said Alejandra Saavedra, a senior at Pelican Rapids High school who moved to west central Minnesota as a preschooler. “Santa Claus isn’t as revered in Mexico as he is, here, in the United States.”
She said that Three Kings’ Day, also known as “the night before,” was the time for opening Christmas presents in Mexico.
Epiphany is the completion of the Advent/Christmas Season and the Twelve Days of Christmas, which are usually counted from the evening of Dec. 25 until the morning of Jan. 6, which is the Twelfth Day. On this day Christians in Mexico and elsewhere commemorate the coming of the wise men bringing gifts to visit the Christ child, who by so doing "reveal" Jesus to the world as Lord and King.
Junior Diana Hernandez said that she and fellow students also have come to appreciate the traditions with Santa Claus and other holiday traditions here in the United States.
Saavedra, Hernandez and eight of their classmates who are students of Pelican Rapids High School’s Spanish teacher, Bridgette Holl, are working on a play — a modern day version of Snow White, in Spanish.
“Our class also involves Hispanic history,” said senior Israel Elizondo. “As far as the play goes, we plan to have videotaping on Wednesday, Dec. 23, something very special right before Christmas.”
All of the 10 students say they appreciate both Hispanic and American traditions during the Christmas season. Some remember the Epiphany and Three Kings’ Day celebrations in Mexico, while others have spent their entire lives in west central Minnesota.
“I came to Pelican Rapids in second grade,” said senior Maria Diaz, “so yes, I recall the Christmas traditions that we celebrated with our families in Mexico. This time of year is special in both countries.”
Students who are Catholic have the opportunity to celebrate a Christmas Spanish Mass, and weekly church services in Spanish, throughout the year at St. Leonard’s Catholic Church in Pelican Rapids.
Jose Rosiles, a high school senior, remembers living in a town in Mexico that was a journey of six or so hours from Mexico City.
“I like it here in Pelican Rapids,” said Rosiles. “It’s been fun having new friends and taking part in activities. I’ve been on the soccer team.”
Also part of the soccer team, which has Pelican Rapids partnering with Hillcrest Academy of Fergus Falls, is junior David Barragan.
Some of the students live in homes where English is the second language and they know more English than their parents who work at West Central Turkeys and other places in Pelican Rapids. They take pride in being able to speak both Spanish and English in their homes.
The students also appreciate the opportunities available to them in the United States, following their graduations from Pelican Rapids High School.
“I’ve been able to go all the way through the school system here,” said Alejandra Saavedra, a senior. “Next year I plan to study accounting at Minnesota State University, Moorhead.
Fellow senior Veronica Coronado, who started school as a first grader in Pelican Rapids, plans to attend college and pursue pre-law. Another senior, Maria Diaz, was a second grader when she began school in Pelican Rapids. She plans to attend college somewhere and pursue a goal of becoming a pediatrician. The other students have long-term goals, as well.
For her part, instructor Bridgette Holl says, “I’m proud of each of my students. Pelican Rapids Public Schools is a great place to teach, and an even better place to learn.”
Allen County health officials have launched a campaign to encourage Fort Wayne’s Hispanic residents to get their H1N1 flu vaccine.
Studies in large American cities found that minorities, including blacks and Hispanics, are more likely to be hospitalized with the flu. These groups are likely to have flu complications because they disproportionately suffer from underlying health conditions like asthma and diabetes.
Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan is concerned that could be the case for Fort Wayne’s minority populations, spokesman John Silcox said.
The Fort Wayne-Allen County Health Department’s H1N1 flu efforts have included a Web site, public-service announcements and advertising in local print and broadcast media. But because of language and cultural barriers, the message to get vaccinated might be lost among Spanish speakers, Silcox said.
To get the message out, the department has bought Spanish-language billboards, created Spanish-language pamphlets and bought advertising in Spanish-language newspapers. Posters and other educational materials were distributed to Hispanic businesses, churches and social centers, the department said.
Department staff have also begun conducting small clinics in neighborhoods and community centers used by Burmese and Hispanic residents, Silcox said.
Monday, the department will have a clinic at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, which is home to many Hispanic parishioners.
The department has had small teams in urban child care centers like the Early Childhood Alliance to vaccinate children and at the St. Henry’s community center to vaccinate Burmese residents, Silcox said.
Officials use the clinics to reach disadvantaged residents who might not have the resources or transportation to reach the main public clinic site at Carew Medical Park, he said.
The public-service advertisements also encourage Hispanic residents to wash their hands and to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze to prevent the spread of the flu.
Silcox said the campaign has been in the works for a while. Even though the number of people becoming sick with the flu has decreased in recent weeks, the regular flu season is just starting and the advice is good for either seasonal flu or the H1N1 flu, he said.
Tempers flared at a public hearing Friday on whether illegal immigrants should be allowed to attend North Carolina Community Colleges.
At issue: the possibility of illegal immigrants attending classes, providing they meet certain requirements.
If the plan gets final approval, it will go into effect in April.
Supporters of the plan far outnumbered opponents, and they made impassioned pleas.
"What distinguishes one young person's yearning for accomplishment from another's thirst for achievement?" said Ron Bilbao, with the North Carolina Coalition for College Access. "How can we choose some to realize their dreams in life, then turn to others and deny them everything?"
Proponents point out that under the current plan illegal immigrants would have to pay out of state tuition, and would not be allowed to take the place of any students who are in the U.S. legally.
"At the risk of sounding a bit sarcastic, the last time I checked North Carolina does not suffer from having too many people with too many skills and too much knowledge," said former Granville County Schools Superintendant Thomas Williams. "Let's be sure we do all we can to enhance our state's current and future work force."
The handful of opponents were just as emotional, with some openly ignoring -- and even mocking -- supporters of the plan.
"Since it is against federal and state law to hire an illegal alien, educated or not, what's the purpose of offering an illegal alien a college education?" asked James Johnson, president of NC Fire.
"When an illegal takes a citizen's job, and the citizen is unemployed the social services cost will be very high," added Ron Woodard, director of NC Listen.
The public comment session lasted two and a half hours, and time still ran out before everyone got to speak; those who missed out were still allowed to submit comments in writing.
A couple of teacher's aides used to be enough to serve all the Finley School District students who needed extra help because they were still learning English.
But about five years ago the small district hired an additional staff member -- a full-time teacher -- because that group of students kept growing.
More and more districts across the state are seeing that kind of shift in student demographics. As a result, school leaders are delving into research and adjusting staffing and teaching methods to find the most effective ways to reach all their students.
"Whatever we do to help these kids helps all kids" because instruction improves, said Barbara Donaldson, special services manager for Finley schools.
The number of students in the district who qualify for bilingual services based on their performance on a state assessment has doubled in the last five years, from 50 to 60 students to about 120 students.
Athena Pelly, the district's English as a second language teacher, works with them, helping to bolster their language and literacy skills through various exercises and activities.
Two teacher's aides help and the team works with Finley students in kindergarten through high school.
Other Tri-City districts also have seen growth in this student group.
In the Columbia-Burbank district, 7.7 percent of students qualified for transitional bilingual services in 2003-04, compared with 8.6 percent in spring 2009, according to state data. (Overall student enrollment declined during that time period).
The Kennewick district saw a jump from 8.6 percent of students in 2003-04 to 10.7 percent last May, the data said. Statewide, that group of students grew from 6.9 percent of the total school population to 8 percent in the same period.
It's been a different story in the Richland School District. The percentage of students needing bilingual help fell from 2.8 percent to 2.2 percent between 2003-04 and last year, state data shows.
But Richland has seen growth in the number of students from low-income families -- from 22 percent to nearly 30 percent of all students during that time period. The growth is something district leaders are watching closely, and "we'll continue working hard to serve (those students') needs," said Mike Kirby, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.
Research shows students in poverty and those who are learning English as a second language often struggle more than their peers and need extra support. The achievement gap exists across the country.
It's not because the students aren't as smart or capable as their peers, but because they generally face more obstacles, officials said.
For example, a student from a low-income family might not get as much help with homework because his or her parents are working long hours to make ends meet. And parents who don't speak English can't always help with assignments in that language.
Figuring out ways to help these students is good for all students, officials said. Teachers learn more effective methods that can be applied to different classes and instruction can be sped up because fewer kids are behind.
The Pasco School District hasn't seen its demographics change dramatically over the last few years, but it already had far more students living in poverty and learning English.
The district is having success narrowing the achievement gap, especially among English language learners. Several strategies and programs are in place, including what's called a "late-exit transitional bilingual" model, said Superintendent Saundra Hill.
In that model, students who aren't proficient in English learn core subjects like math in their primary language while also getting English instruction. As they become more proficient in English, the language proportion flip-flops.
The strategies and programs used by the district are research-based, Hill said, and data show they seem to be working.
For example, in spring 2009 more than 90 percent of 10th-graders who learned enough in the eyes of the state to exit the bilingual program after initially coming to Pasco knowing little or no English passed the state writing test. Nearly as many passed the reading test. Both results beat the state average.
The trend was similar for students who came from homes where a language other than English was spoken. Pasco's graduation rates also were at or better than the state numbers in most categories in 2008, according to district information.
Pasco teachers and other officials work hard because "we want these kids to graduate and select their futures from positions of academic power and personal confidence," Hill said. "That's our vision and our goal."
Pasco and other districts -- like Finley -- also have programs to engage parents and help them become more involved.
In Finley last week, Pelly, the ESL teacher, worked with a small group of second-graders on their writing. Most of her students come from homes where Spanish is spoken, although she also has native Russian and Ukrainian speakers.
Since winter break was coming, Pelly had the kids break into pairs and write their own versions of the Frosty the Snowman story. The kids giggled as they talked about Frosty riding a four-wheeler and goofing around.
One little boy was trying to write about the snowman's hat, but he got stuck spelling "magical." Pelly helped him sound it out.
She said she likes working with students learning English because she's been in their shoes. In middle school, she lived for a while in Germany and didn't speak the language.
It's rewarding to see her students learn and improve, she said. "Every year (the number of students needing bilingual services) goes up, but every year we exit more students than ever before," she said.
A recent study from the Pew Hispanic Center examines economic, academic
and socio-cultural benchmarks that reflect the status and the values of
the largest and youngest immigrant group in America: Latinos.
Hispanics in the United States
There have been about 40 million immigrants to the U.S. since 1965,
according to Pew, and approximately half came from Latin America. “By
force of numbers alone, the kinds of adults these young Latinos become
will help shape the kind of society America becomes in the 21st
century,” the report noted.
Researchers conducted over 2,000 phone surveys with “a nationally
representative sample” of Latinos, age 16 to 25, and supplemented their
findings with information culled from “government demographic,
economic, education and health data sets,” the report noted.
U.S.-born Hispanics appear to be hopeful about their potential for
economic advancement. According to The Associated Press, “About 78
percent of third-generation young Hispanics and 74 percent of those in
the second generation say they will be better off than their parents
financially.” Sixty-six percent of Hispanic immigrants believe they
will surpass their parents’ financial standing.
As a whole, Hispanic youths are more likely than blacks or whites both
to drop out of school and to become teen parents. However, when
comparing immigrant and “native Latinos”—those born in the U.S.—the
native Latinos have lower high school drop out rates, are less likely
to become parents as teenagers, and are more proficient at English. The
figures illustrate this well. At 17 percent, almost three times as many
Latinos drop out of school as blacks or whites, but restrict the data
to native Latinos and this number drops to 8.5 percent, which is
comparable to other races, according to the AP.
On a more troubling note, the report showed that native Latinos are
more likely to have been in a fight, have ties to a gang, and to be in
jail, than Latinos born outside the U.S. Mark Lopez of the Pew Hispanic
Center said he isn’t sure why second and third generation students are
more prone to involvement in gangs and violence. The fact that they are
more likely to be in schools, where gangs may have a presence, could
offer one reasonable hypothesis. But, Lopez notes, “[T]he survey
doesn’t lend any real analysis to this.”
“What I would like to see is more time,” said Eduardo Porter, of The
New York Times in a discussion with Lopez and NPR’s Michel Martin.
Porter notes that the wave of Latino immigrants is fairly recent
compared to other large immigrant groups, so it may take some time
before we can accurately answer the question: “How is this big
immigrant group going to differ from other immigrant groups that arrive
in this country?”
Latinos and Education
Deborah Santiago, the vice president for Policy and Research at
Excelencia in Education, wants lawmakers to recognize that the majority
of Latinos are not undocumented immigrants, or high school dropouts. On
Wednesday, Dec. 16., Excelencia in Education released its report titled
“Taking Stock: Higher Education and Latinos.”
“Often, students are told they are the ones who have to change, when in
fact the colleges themselves need to adapt as well,” Santiago is quoted
as saying, in a press release from Excelencia in Education.
In a briefing held Dec. 14 in Washington, D.C., Bertha Guerrero, CHCI
Public Policy Fellow for Congressman Raul Grijalva, explained how
special programs helped her transition from high school to college.
Guerrero said without such programs she might not have finished her
degree at UCLA.
“I went to look at my high school, elementary school, middle school
scores, [and] found out that they were the lowest performing schools in
my district and that district was … one of the lowest performing
districts in the nation … There were barriers that I did not see
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, by 2025, almost one quarter of the U.S. college-age population will be Latino.
As you know, newspapers are always struggling with race/ethnicity terminology. The latest discussion I participated in a few months ago was about how to identify Americans of Latino descent who may call themselves "Mexican" or "Puerto Rican" or whatever, but are American-born and should be distinguished from the Mexican or Peruvian immigrant. It was prompted by Justice Sonia Sotomayor's insistence on calling herself "Latina," which sparked its own discussion among reporters about what to call her ourselves.
So much of this stuff is about personal preference -- Hispanic or Latino? Black or African-American? In my black/Latino (or African-American/Hispanic) circles most friends embrace "people of color" as a perfectly acceptable term and I do, too, which doesn't negate Luisita's point. Technically, some Latinos are people of color and some are not, because Latino is not a race. This ethnic group includes whites, blacks and everything in between. But since those of Mexican descent are the majority among Latinos in the United States, and most of those are neither white nor black but a mix that is heavily Indian, Latinos as a group tend to easily fall under the people of color umbrella.
Which means that we writers will always have to navigate land mines!
A recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center found that just 25% of young Hispanics ages 16-25 view themselves as an "American" first when asked to define themselves. If they were the American-born children of immigrants, just one-third defined themselves as American. About half of the grandchildren of immigrants said they were American first. The majority of these young people identified themselves first by their family's country of origin. About 20 percent just said generally Hispanic.
Reporter Dianne Solis took a closer look at the study here. I refer to this study because about 69% of students in Irving ISD are Latino, and most of them are American-born. Visiting an elementary classroom in Irving once, I noticed a young boy ask his classmates, "How many of us are Mexicans here?" and many of the kids raised their hands.
My thoughts are that defining ethnicity/race is separate from nationality and I wonder how specific the surveyors were when asking their question. And I must admit that my American-born mother, who is from San Antonio, referred to herself as Mexican when she first met my dad as he recalls, and now says Mexican-American. But if you ask her about nationality, she will say she is a very proud American, period. When people ask my background, I often answer Mexican-American and German-American.
Similarly, columnist Ruben Navarrette confirms my thoughts in a recent column, mentioning that in the Midwest many ethnic Europeans identify themselves first by origin. I totally agree with his point because growing up in Chicago, many of my friends strongly referred to themselves as Polish, Italian, Irish or Greek despite being American. I've noticed that Texas is different and many people just refer to themselves as white or by nationality.
So what does this all mean? Is this because these youth don't feel accepted here, or they are just proud of their origins? When Irving high school students were protesting the lack of immigration reform and walked out of classrooms a couple years back, they were carrying the flags of Mexico and El Salvador for the most part and not U.S. flags (angering many.) I've also seen Irving teens refer to themselves as "SalvaMex," since their parents are from those two different countries.
The level of diversity at the major television networks is improving, according to report cards issued by The National Latino Media Council, a coalition of 16 of the country's largest Latino advocacy organizations.
The NLMC report found that all four networks have made incremental progress on increasing Latino hiring, with ABC and FOX leading the way, followed by CBS and NBC.
NLMC's 9th annual release of network television report cards summarizes the progress and shortfalls of the networks' efforts to diversify their workforces and increase Hispanic vendor contracts.
The grades are made based on three criteria: institutional programs and measures taken to bring Latinos into the employment ranks both in front and back of camera; actual hiring that is concrete and measurable; and of clear, statistical data utilized to grade diversity performance.
The reports focus on the primetime scripted programs from fall of 2008 to summer of 2009, as well as reality programs on the air during the same period. Grades received are proportional to the number of hours of prime-time programming each network had on the air during the '08-'09 period.
The ABC and FOX networks each received B+ marks. Both networks feature Hispanics prominently in primetime shows such as América Ferrera and Eva Longoria starring respectively in ABC's "Ugly Betty" and "Desperate Housewives," as well as Carlos Bernard's role on FOX's "24."
ABC was singled out for its efforts in hiring Latino writers for their programs and in awarding contracts to Latino venders.
FOX was lauded for its inclusion of Latinos in its executive creative team and the network's establishment of a pro-active outreach initiative to recruit Hispanics throughout its workforce.
Areas for improvement include increased hiring of Hispanic executives at ABC and additional Latino venders at FOX.
The next highest grade, a B, was awarded to CBS, which has featured Latino actors in prominent regular roles such as Michael Irby in "The Unit," Eva La Rue and Adam Rodríguez in "CSI: Miami," and Enrique Murciano and Roselyn Sánchez in "Without a Trace.”
CBS has continued to have the most visible and highest-ranking Latino executive in their creative team, with Nina Tassler at the helm.
This is of particular importance to NLMC as the executive team can make the biggest impact with regard to diversity on television.
However, NLMC found that CBS continues to struggle in the representation of Latinos in its reality programs. This year the network had the lowest number of Latino contestants on popular reality shows over the past three years.
Coming in last was NBC with a grade of C+, primarily for failing to hire a single Latino executive for its creative team. NBC was the only one of the four networks to fail to do so. On the positive side, NBC won praise for its creative hiring of Latinos for supporting roles, its proactive efforts to hire Hispanic writers and producers, and high level of spending with Latino venders.
Overall, NLMC found that the number of Latinos both in front of and behind the camera is increasing at the four major networks, even if the levels are not yet in line with the 15 percent of the U.S. population that Hispanics represent.
The coalition stated casting teams should be targeted for increased diversity in order to continue building on the progress represented in the report, adding the group intends to work closely with the networks to improve in this area.