I'm looking at the demographic trends of where Latinos are now and where they are heading, and I can see some serious issues for NYS ahead if we don't do something - if we don't make our leaders do something. I'm a Puerto Rican mom with two Latino daughters - I want to know what kind of future NYS will give them. And I'm telling you right now, it's not pretty.
The majority of Latinos in NYS are currently in the service and retail industries. Yes, there are many in the professions (doctors, lawyers, etc.) and a rising number are entrepreneurs. But the majority are in occupations that don't require a college degree.
Okay, so maybe that's because of baby boomers and other generations who didn't have the opportunities Latinos and people of color generally have today. So, I look at college demographics.
Yep, rising population of Latinos heading to college - but, not graduating at the same rate as whites. Hmmm. The State University of New York will soon be at 25% Latino students, but only 6% of faculty are people of color. That can't be right - I'd better make a few calls and check those numbers. But if that's true - no wonder grad rates aren't as high for students of color at SUNY. Where's the support???
All right, let's look at elementary and high schools. Again we have few Latino teachers, rising numbers of Latino students, and creeping numbers of graduation rates, and creeping numbers of high school grads going to college. From day one when a student of color enters kindergarten, there should be an assumption that that child is going to college. Every teacher, parent, principal, support service provider, cafeteria server, janitor, and coach in that student's entire educational career should be saying "of course you're going to college" every day. And NYS needs to give schools the support to make those words come true.
But the numbers are there. It doesn't look like it's coming true. Well, it is, but the rates of growth of high school to college transitions are creeping for Latinos compared to whites.
In 2050, there will be more people of color in NYS than whites. Will the State's economy shift to a population that is so heavy in service and retail industries that the State's financial, health, and legal professions/industries falter? Innovation, technology - will the economic and innovative strength of our country be centered in white states?
Until NYS's educational systems can meet the unique needs of Latinos and other people of color, NYS is facing terrible trouble in 2050. We must get our people into the sciences and technology, we must have them graduating from law and medical schools, we must have them on Wall Street.
But NYS is still stuck in a primarily white-based educational system, both in regular education and in higher education. And - NYS is still not doing near enough for Minority and Women Owned Businesses.
The kids entering kindergarten today will be our State's primary working population in 2050. What kind of work will they be doing? How will the State prepare them for the work needed in 2050?