The benefits of a preschool education for children are well known. These benefits could be even more important for children who experience significant disadvantage, such as living in extreme poverty. Proponents of preschool education maintain that the ability to think analytically, reason abstractly, and solve problems through the manipulation of words and number can be improved through interventions, such as preschools programs. There is strong indication that preschool has a positive impact on Latino children. On average, Head Start reduces the gap in test scores between Latino and non- Hispanic White children and two-thirds of the gap in the probability of grade retention.
Although preschool is believed to be of benefit for children, Latinos are not enrolling in preschool at the same rates as other racial and ethnic groups, and even when they do enroll, few enrolled for more than a year. The low preschool enrollment of Latino children could be the result of language constraints, cultural ideas about childbearing, affordability, or lack of awareness about benefits and programs. There may also be differences in enrolment throughout California responding to program access, quality or supply. Besides, available programs may not respond to the needs of Latino children or parents. For instance, Latino parents may need more culturally sensitive programs with caregivers that support and promote the use of Spanish.
By 2025 Latinos would be close to half of the new entrants into the labor force in California, but the somber reality is that they continue to have some of the lowest college participation and graduation rates of all race and ethnic groups. If significant improvements are not made on the educational attainment of Latinos, this could have serious consequences for California.
To improve the skills of our labor force, we need to start at the pre-school level – but for Latinos in the United States, the educational experience is one of accumulated disadvantage starting from the beginning.
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