Programs Proven To Close College-Completion Gap Banned In Arizona
April 12, 2012

PHOENIX -- About half of all K-12 students in the Southwest are Latino. According to a recent report, many of these will not go on to earn a college degree.

About 19 percent of Latino adults have an associate degree or higher compared to 38 percent of all adults in the U.S. Questions about this discrepancy fueled a new report from the Washington D.C.-based Excelencia in Education.

One of the authors of the report, Deborah Santiago, says programs and support services that help all students are good, but that even more “intentional” ones are necessary for Latino students.

"They tend to be a smaller concentration of enrollment," Santiago said. "Because they might be the first in their family to go to college, availing themselves of the resources and support services available can be more challenging for them because they don’t know they exist."

The University of Arizona used to have programs like the ones Excelencia's report referenced. But in 2010 Arizona voters passed a proposition banning those kinds of programs.

Maria Teresa Velez, associate dean at the university's graduate college, recalls: "They passed a law that specifically states that individuals cannot be privileged by the state on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, or national origin."

Velez says she’s been able to hold onto to a few programs for Latino students, but only the ones that receive federal - not state - funds.