Scholarship Award: Young Steward of Public Policy

Xuankieu Tran, Second Place Award 2003-2004

Scholarship Award

Young Steward of Public Policy

SRP General Dynamics C4 Systems APS The Arizona Republic Tucson Citizen

Second Place Award 2003-2004

"Parents And Schools Are The Key Players"

By Xuankieu Tran
Alhambra High School
Phoenix, Arizona

"Arizona is now growing with a higher rate of Latino population. In the last decade, there has been an increase of 600,000 young Latino residents to the state and half of the population under eighteen in both Phoenix and Tucson is now Latino. High populations of Latinos can be the key to a prosperous future with a large, hard-working and skilled labor force in Arizona. However, this opportunity may not be easily achieved for there are too many of Arizona's Latinos dropping out of high school or failing to obtain the basic education needed for more advanced study.

With educational deficits, Latinos are held back to working construction or low-end service jobs. These Arizona Latinos will be unable to prosper in an increasingly demanding economy. It will also create more competition for low-skill jobs, and it will be much harder for knowledge-based companies to employ high-skill positions. Latino drop outs will affect Arizona in that the state may not have the ability to compete in the new economy. The solution to decreasing the Latino drop out rate is to involve both the parents and the schools. Latino students need to be motivated to continue their education, and both the parents and the schools play a major role in influencing these students. High schools are encouraged to create workshops where parents and teachers come together to discuss the students' learning. The schools can also have assemblies where Latino motivators speak to the students, and the school can also create a mentoring program for these students.

The first solution to decreasing the Latino drop out rate is to build a strong partnership between the schools and the parents. The schools will only work effectively if they involve the students' parents and families. Latino students may struggle in school because the learning environment they face in school is different than the environment at home. At home these students have their own values, aspirations, language, cultural traditions and customs. When they go to school, they are face with a different reality that they are not prepared for. Therefore, parents and families of these students should be involved in creating a learning environment at home so that the students are better prepared for school.

With more funding from the state, each high school can create a workshop that meets with parents twice a month where parents and the school staff come together to discuss the learning of their children or plan out the curriculum. The schools can send home letters inviting parents to come to the workshop, and for those parents who do not speak English fluently, there will be translators at the workshop. The schools can also hire psychologists to speak to the parents at the workshop. Parents will learn how to create a learning environment at home and to promote a child's self-esteem. Most importantly, the idea that all children can attend college is planted in the parents' mind so that they can prepare their children for college. The workshop's goal is to raise parents' awareness of their rights to be involved in their children's education and to ensure that a child's love for learning is stimulated both at home and at school.

Now that the parents are involved in motivating the students, there should also be some changes in the schools. The State of Arizona can also give some funding to schools to hire Latino motivators. Each high school should have two assemblies a year where these motivators come to speak to the students. By listening to the success of people of their same race, students are more likely to be inspired to stay in school and to continue in their education. In addition to having Latino motivators, the schools can also create a mentoring program to help the Latino students who are struggling with their academics. Instead of allowing them to struggle and feel frustrated with themselves, we should make them feel that we can help. With the mentoring program, there will be people assigned to them one-on-one who will help them with any personal problems and also with their academics. Also, the mentors will be Latinos so that the students can relate more, and these mentors can volunteer to be in the program.

There are many reasons to why Latino students choose to drop out of high school, but parents and schools are the keys to help these students stay in school. The State of Arizona should consider these recommendations and try to incorporate them into their policies for schools to follow. Once both the parents and the schools work together, the state will see result in a decreasing rate of Latino drop outs. And if more students are going to college, that means Arizona is gaining more talented and educated people into the workforce. With a strong and skillful workforce in Arizona, it will lead to a prosperous and booming economy."

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