Goshen College’s Institute for Latino Educational Achievement, in collaboration with the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies, published a three-volume series of research reports, titled “Latinos in Northern Indiana,” during the spring of 2011. The reports assess the educational experiences of local Latinos and provide recommendations for improvement.
The research shows a rapid growth of the local Latino population over the past 20 years, though the source of the growth isn’t from immigration; it is from births in the United States.
During a press conference to announce the publication of the reports, Associate Director of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies Allert Brown-Gort said, “We need to work on how we integrate these young people and how we make them part of Indiana’s future. We cannot do well unless they do well.”
Many local Latinos have low incomes along with low high school graduation rates and high poverty rates. According to the research, they are generally welcomed and comfortable in schools, but foreign-born students face more social difficulties than those born in the United States.
The report includes several recommendations: better cultural awareness (cultural knowledge and bilingual counselors and teachers), more guidance in college preparation and peer-support programs for parents.
Robert Reyes, director of research for Goshen’s Center for Intercultural Teaching and Learning, said, “We are responding to one of the greatest social problems of our time – the challenge of education inequality in America.”
Reyes described the reports as written in a qualitative manner, using stories and quotes to bring the research to life. The first volume, “A Demographic Profile,” examines the recent demographic surge of the Latino population in St. Joseph, Noble and Elkhart counties in North Central Indiana. The second volume, “A Historical Account of Their Settlement 1990-2009,” describes the settlement and adjustment experiences of Latinos in the four cities of South Bend, Elkhart, Goshen and Ligonier. The third volume, “Educational Challenges and Opportunities,” assesses how Latino immigrant students and parents experience the educational systems in North Central Indiana.
Brown-Gort said that he hopes people beyond the academic setting will use the information. “They’re not academic documents; they’re not meant to be stored in a library,” he said. “They’re really meant for working decision makers at all levels from the local to the state and, not only in government, in business also.”