The Bay Area Fails Latino Students

yli is My Story

“Latinos 5 times as likely to fail at Cabrillo Schools” was the first line I saw as I opened a link to the Half Moon Bay Review. I refreshed, hoping that the link would open faster than it was loading. As I read through the article, I saw the way my school was critiqued and the district’s failure to cater to their Latino community. As a Latino who grew up in Cabrillo Schools, I knew where the district had failed.

I attended Hatch Elementary School where I believe the problems all began. Many of my classmates and friends in elementary school grew up speaking only Spanish at home. They needed more support to build on their English skills. As a student who learned English and Spanish simultaneously, I was able to navigate the school system with more ease than the others. As we got older, it was obvious that there were no resources available to help the students whose reading and writing skills were not advancing enough to move forward.

In middle school, we were divided into English Language Development (ELD) and non-ELD classes. What the district failed to recognize was that these students were having to learn two new topics at once. They were already struggling to learn new material while they were still learning a second language. 

Moving further and further up in grade levels usually came with harder classes along with additional educational barriers. Students began to give up and fall behind in classes. When the testing results from Cabrillo School District came back, it was clear which group got more attention and which group was ignored. It was astonishing to see that Latinos were 5 times more likely to fail. Latinos make up the majority of students at Half Moon Bay High School, yet they are more likely than their non-majority counterparts to fail. 

The issues we face are not just based on language barriers. There is also a socio-economic barrier that adds to the current problem. According to CalMatters “the median household income for Latino workers in the Bay Area is $70,900 annually,” as compared to $110,000 in the Bay Area as a whole. The lack of income creates inequalities that are very prevalent in the Bay Area. Latinos make up 54% of K-12 students in California but have lower test scores in every subject category. This can be related back to the gap in income which often impacts access to childcare, tutoring, and other support. San Francisco shows the largest test score gap between Latino and white students in the state with a 46 percent difference in the percentage of Latino and white students who met or exceeded the state math and English standards in 2017. The problem we are facing for proper education is not improving but rather growing. 

As a Latino student in Half Moon Bay, it worries me that my community is overlooked and not properly supported within our schools. I worry for future students who may not have the resources needed to succeed in their own community. I beg for my school district to begin to focus on our community and further invest in tutoring and other ways to uplift Latino students’ learning and retention.