I find myself seriously puzzled by a new report from the Pew Research Center, which shows that Hispanic high school graduates are now enrolling in college at a greater rate than white graduates. Or to be more specific, I find myself puzzled by the likely explanation given by Pew for the big increase in college-bound Hispanics:
It is possible that the rise in high school completion and college enrollment by Latino youths has been driven, at least in part, by their declining fortunes in the job market. Since the onset of the recession at the end of 2007, unemployment among Latinos ages 16 to 24 has gone up by seven percentage points, compared with a five percentage point rise among white youths. With jobs harder to find, more Latino youths may have chosen to stay in school longer.
So because there aren’t enough lower paying labor jobs that require a high school degree or less, a large part of our population has decided to slum it by getting a college education and (presumably) better prospects at higher paying jobs?
I honestly have no idea what to think of this explanation. Is it actually the case, or is it some sort of horrid knee-jerk reaction about “those people not doing the low-skill jobs their blood calls for them to do?” Because it’s Pew and not, say, Jason Richwine, I’m inclined to think not. But if it is accurate, then again I say: WTF?
Has the “soft racism of low expectations” gotten so bad in this country that college-eligible Hispanic kids don’t even bother trying? Did the system somehow previously discourage them from applying because they were Hispanic? Did their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who went to college find that despite a diploma, a good mind and a strong work ethic their only option in the white-hiring job market was changing sheets at the Motel 6? Is there something that I’m just not seeing?
I seriously have no idea what to think about this, except that it just feels wrong. And weird.
Does anyone know about this stuff?