Posted: 11:33 p.m. MST
Leaders from Arizona State University's Morrison Institute Latino Public Policy Center and the Arizona Latino Research Enterprise talked Wednesday night about the education gap between Latinos and non-Latinos in Arizona and how that will affect the future workforce.
They said this is not a new problem, but it is about time the community and state do something about it.
"We can no longer afford to separate Latino issues from Arizona issues, because they're one and the same," said Joseph Garcia, director of the institute.
An October report from the Morrison Institute found that only 69 percent of Hispanic students in Arizona graduate high school, compared with 83 percent of their white counterparts.
"This is our future workforce, our future competitive edge, if you will. But there's a gap when it comes to Latino education, and we need to close that gap in order for Arizona to take full advantage of having that competitive edge in the new economy," Garcia said.
The report lists a number of reasons why this is so; nevertheless, that trend is reflected nationally.
"What really has happened in the last 10 years? The question is, how do we stand, and how do we go forward," asked Lydia Aranda, vice chair of the Arizona Latino Research Enterprise.
In Arizona, leaders Wednesday said schools and the state cannot ignore growing minority groups.
The report projects that by 2030, Latinos and other minority groups will make up more than half of Arizona's population.
"The face of Arizona is changing, and we need to recognize that, and understand some of the unique challenges and benefits that Latinos present to Arizona," Garcia said.
Wednesday's presentation in Yuma was the first stop in the statewide tour. The group plans to return to Yuma at the end of the tour to present suggestions to improve the state of education in Arizona.
Several leaders from Yuma County attended the presentation, including the Board of Supervisors, superintendents, and some mayors.
The report titled, "Dropped? Latino Education and Arizona's Economic Future," is available at www.MorrisonInstitute.asu.edu/Latinos.