Excelencia: What works for Latino college success

At Miami Dade College, pass-Math is boosting Latino pass rates in gatekeeper math courses, improving retention and reducing math anxiety. A program at LaGuardia Community College strengthens counseling to help Latino and other low-income students move from remedial to college-level courses. San Diego State’s peer Mentoring program (pMp) helps community college transfers handle the transition.

Small programs produced real gains for first-generation Latino students, concludes Excelencia in Education’s Growing What Works report.

Only 21 percent of Latino adults 25 and older have completed an associate degree or higher, compared to 40 percent of all U.S. adults.  More Latinos are enrolling in college — especially community college — but success rates are low.

The report spotlights a variety of programs.

The Mother-Daughter Program at Knox College (Illinois) counseled families on the importance of completing a degree. “Latino families make decisions together and an informed family is more supportive,” says Deborah Santiago, Excelencia’s vice president of policy. Some mothers decided to enroll in college after participating with their daughters.

Some programs target male Latinos, who have higher dropout rates. At Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York, Doorway to Success focused on improving male students’ study habits, engagement and retention. The Clave Latino Male Empowerment program at Union County College in New Jersey includes learning communities, a monthly lecture series, professional development opportunities and a social and professional support network for business and economics students.

Belittling buzzwords

Playing Buzzword Bingo at a community-college faculty meeting reveals what leaders really think of their faculty, writes Rob Jenkins.

For example, some administrators see the faculty as a “team.”

 If we are a team, does that mean the leader is our coach? And if so, are we, therefore, utterly accountable to him or her alone? What if one individual doesn’t go along with the team? Might he or she be cut? After all, there is no “I” in “team.”

. . .  teams are almost always dictatorships. Benevolent, perhaps, but dictatorships nonetheless. The coach always has the last word, and divergence from the team concept is punished swiftly and surely.

Even worse is the word “family,” Jenkins writes. “If we’re a family, then who is the parent? And what happens to us if we’re bad?”

When a college leader calls himself a “change agent,”  it means “change for the sake of change,” Jenkin writes. “Beginning with the assumption that nobody knew what they were doing before you showed up is a slap in the face to all those who preceded you, including faculty.”

What’s your least favorite buzzword?