While California's Latino population is growing, and is likely to become the state's largest ethnic group within a few years, only a tiny percentage of Latinos are seeking and receiving college educations, according to a new data compilation by the Campaign for College Opportunity.
The Los Angeles-based organization says in a new report that while 57 percent of Latino students graduated from high school in 2009 - markedly lower graduation rates than those for white or Asian American students - just 16 percent graduated with the course requirements for the state's four-year colleges, and just 8 percent enrolled in one of those colleges.
The bottom line, the organization says, is that just 7 percent of California's Latinos 25 years or older have baccalaureate degrees, while 30 percent of all Californians have at least bachelor's degrees.
Latino attendance at community colleges is higher. Of Latinos who pursue college educations, two-thirds go to community colleges, but just 20 percent earn certificates or associate degrees or transfer to four-year colleges.
Michele Siqueiros, the campaign's executive director, calls the data "cause for significant alarm" because with the overall Latino population continuing to expand, low Latino college attendance could affect the larger society, especially in jobs that require post-high school education.
"California cannot succeed if its Latino students do not succeed," she said in a statement accompanying release of the report. "At present, our education system, including the community colleges, do not serve Latino students well."
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