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Bush's approval sought for U-M admissions policies

January 8, 2003
 BY MARYANNE GEORGE
FREE PRESS ANN ARBOR BUREAU

A group of national Hispanic leaders will ask President George W. Bush today to officially support the University of Michigan's admissions policies, which are being contested in two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The high court is expected to hear arguments in the cases challenging the use of race in law school and undergraduate admissions policies, in late March or early April.

The court is considering the issue for the first time since it ruled that colleges could consider race as a factor in admissions decisions in the landmark 1978 Bakke case. The court's ruling, expected this summer, is expected to influence admissions policies across the nation.

Twelve groups, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Associations of Colleges, will unveil an open letter to Bush today at a news conference at the National Press Club. It will ask Bush to file legal briefs with the court supporting U-M.

White House officials reportedly are lobbying Bush on both sides of the issue, according to a recent Washington Post report. Solicitor General Ted Olson is said to be eager to file a brief opposing U-M's policies, while White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales is said to be urging Bush to support the policies.

Neither Olson nor Gonzales could be reached for comment Tuesday. The question of whether to weigh in on the U-M cases "remains under review," according to a statement released by the White House.

Pilar Avila, a spokeswoman for the coalition, said members of the group have discussed the case with Gonzales.

A high court decision against U-M would have an adverse effect on higher education for all students, not just minorities, Avila said.

"This is not a diversity or a Latino issue," Avila said. "This issue concerns the entire nation. . . . A diverse student body increases the quality of education."

Only 11 percent of the 35 million Latinos in the country have obtained post-secondary education and more than one-third of the population is younger than 18, according to the U.S. census. The coalition is concerned that eliminating the use of race in admissions would reduce the number of Hispanic students in the nation's colleges and reduce their access to financial aid. This year, 4.7 percent of the students at U-M are Hispanic.

Terry Pell, president of the Center for Individual Rights (CIR), which represents the three white students who sued U-M in 1997, said minority enrollment at colleges in Texas, Florida, Washington and California, where race is no longer considered in admissions, has returned to approximately 10 percent this year.

Pell said both CIR and U-M want Olson to file a brief supporting their arguments.

"The brief would have more political than legal interest," Pell said. "The Supreme Court is interested in what the White House has to say, but they must take a longer view. A brief will not influence the case in a dramatic way."

U-M spokeswoman Julie Peterson said officials are pleased with the support of the Hispanic community.

"They have strongly articulated the reasons why access to higher education is so crucial for the Hispanic community, and their concerns about the impact on related programs including financial aid."

Sheldon Steinbach, general counsel for the American Council on Education in Washington, D.C., said many people are contacting the White House and asking for support in the use of race in admissions.

The council, an umbrella organization for 1,800 colleges and universities, expects to file a brief supporting U-M on behalf of several dozen educational groups, Steinbach said.

"The influence of a brief from the White House will depend on what it says," Steinbach said. "Amicus briefs are given deference for the quality of their arguments."

CIR's brief must be filed with the high court by Jan. 16. U-M's brief is due Feb. 18.


Puerto Rico marks its constitution's 50th Anniversary

By lan James Associated Press

MANATI, Puerto Rico - As a boy, Manuel Salgado Lugo labored barefoot in sugarcane fields, gathering bunches of felled cane and hefting them onto oxcarts.

Today, 50 years after Puerto Rico became a U.S. commonwealth, the cane fields have mostly disappeared under modern subdivisions, supermarkets and pharmaceutical factories. New tanks to recycle chemical waste rise next to the ruins of a sugar mill.

Salgado, 73, notes with pride that he no longer has to live in a dirt-floor hovel or sleep on a hammock of burlap sacks. "In those times, we weren't worth anything," he said.

Puerto Rico's transformation is a product of a unique, lucrative and conflicted relationship with the United States, which took it from Spain in 1898.

The Caribbean island's constitution, drafted by its leaders and approved by the U.S. president and Congress, took effect a half-century ago today, on July 25, 1952, establishing Puerto Rico as a "Free Associated State," or commonwealth.

Critics say the semiautonomous government is neither entirely free nor really associated with the United States. Some argue that Puerto Rico is simply an exploited colony.

Salgado, a retiree who sells lottery tickets and rolled tobacco on a corner in Manati, 30 miles west of the capital of San Juan, said he owed a great deal to Luis Munoz Marin, who was elected governor in 1948 and ushered in the commonwealth.

"Everyone has a house, furniture, a car," Salgado said, "thanks to God and Don Luis."

With U.S. help, the government bought cane fields around Manati and elsewhere and gave small plots to poor laborers. On one, Salgado built his concrete-block house and planted mango and banana trees.

His son and daughter learned to read, a skill he never acquired.  Salgado repaired signs on highways until he retired, and now receives a monthly Social Security payment of $312.

"Under the Free Associated State, life has been good," he said.

But Puerto Ricans remain deeply divided over their relationship with the United States.

Commonwealth supporters led by Gov. Sila Calderon will celebrate today outside the seaside Capitol to mark the constitution's anniversary. On the other side of the island, the small independence movement will hold a somber gathering in Guanica at the spot where U.S. soldiers invaded July 25, 1898, to wrest control from Spain.

For the first 50 years, Washington appointed Puerto Rico's governors and provided little aid while poverty reigned on sugar, tobacco, coffee and pineapple plantations. But after World War II, Puerto Rico started "Operation Bootstrap" with U.S. tax breaks, reorienting its economy from farming to manufacturing. Laborers left for the mainland United States in an exodus promoted by the island's government to ease unemployment.

There were outbursts of resistance to U.S. ties.

In 1950, two Puerto Rican nationalists tried to assassinate President Harry S. Truman in Washington. In 1954, nationalists attacked the U.S. House, shooting from the spectators' gallery and wounding five congressmen. From 1974 to 1983, the Armed Forces for National Liberation was involved in 130 U.S. bombings that killed six people and wounded dozens.

Political violence has faded as Puerto Rico has developed into one of the wealthiest places in Latin America. U.S. influence is evident along wide highways lined with malls, Burger Kings, and billboards advertising Coors Light. High-rise condominiums tower over San Juan's beaches.

Yet on weekends in Old San Juan, families still gather under a spreading banyan tree to play traditional bomba and plena music, swaying as they strum the rhythm on dried gourds called guiros.

Spanish remains the language of choice.  In some ways, being Puerto Rican is to live between two worlds. About 4 million Puerto Ricans live on the island, while 3.4 million more reside on the U.S. mainland, including more than 150,000 in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

Puerto Ricans were made American citizens in 1917, and many fought and died for the U.S. military, but islanders cannot vote for president and have no vote in Congress. Puerto Ricans pay no U.S. income taxes but receive more than $13 billion a year in federal funds.

"This is my first flag," retiree Ana Rivera, 56, said, motioning to a U.S. flag. Others say they are Puerto Ricans first, though glad to be U.S. citizens. But some argue that the relationship scars the psyche.

"We are neither here nor there," complained Carlos Pesquera, leader of the New Progressive Party, which wants the island to become a state.

The governor is pushing for even more autonomy, saying Puerto Ricans "have come along building our own destiny."

In Washington, the debate over the island's status provokes little interest, with many in Congress saying it is a decision for Puerto Ricans. Commonwealth supporters narrowly outvoted islanders who want statehood in a 1998 plebiscite.

Some U.S. legislators express frustration at Puerto Ricans' opposition to Navy bombing exercises on the island of Vieques, where 9,100 civilians live. But President Bush has pledged that the Navy will stop next year.

© 2001 inquirer and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.


Confectioners are sweet on the hot Hispanic market
Associated Press

CHICAGO - In the $24 billion U.S. candy business, it's no longer solely a matter of how sweet it is.

More companies these days are catering to the unique candy tastes of the fast-growing Hispanic population, where some like it hot. Really hot.

Sweet-tooth experts attending North America's largest confectionery trade show say candies with a Latin bite to them - often spicy and salty - are popping up in stores all over as manufacturers and distributors try to feed a burgeoning ethnic market.

Pineapple candies with a chili powder flavor. Milk chocolate-covered corn flakes, a Mexican favorite. Tamarind chili lollipops. Salted tropical fruit pulp candy.

They're not necessarily flavors most Americans would love at first bite. But with 35 million Latino consumers out there, candy makers don't need them all to.

"With the Hispanic population growing so rapidly in our country, that's a big market that's not currently being addressed," said Brad Terp, sales manager of Silesia Flavors Inc., based in Hoffman Estates, Ill.

Several companies have taken steps in the past year to address the market, stocking candies in stores in Hispanic centers: cities in California, Arizona, Texas and Florida, along with New York, Chicago, Denver, Salt Lake City and other areas.

Mainstream U.S. tastes have acquired more zing in recent years, from intense mints to sour power and spicier flavors. But Adriana King, head of U.S. distribution for Mexicali, Mexico-based Productos Hola, says the trend hasn't gone far enough for U.S. Hispanics - nearly two-thirds of whom are of Mexican heritage.

"Sour, tart tastes might work for the Anglo, but the Mexican will still go for salt, sugar and chili," she said. "My kids will eat the sour candies, but they like the chili ones nine times more."

Displaying her company's goods at this week's All Candy Expo, King boasted of the "very perky" flavor of chili-flavored hard candies. But her recommendation for dried apricot candies slathered with salt and lemon came with a verbal warning: they are meant to be washed down with tequila or beer.

"You don't want to eat them alone," she said. "They're too salty - you're going to go, 'Ohhh!" '

Monte's USA, the American subsidiary of Mexico's Montes y Cia, has added two new bags of candy in the past year - Fruit Amigos, a chewy fruit candy, and Fresitas, fruit-filled strawberry hard candy - to a "Hispanic bag line" that includes butterscotch, creamy chocolate toffee and coconut milk toffee.

While the candies are primarily aimed at Hispanics, the company uses labels in both Spanish and English and counts on crossover appeal.


Rise in childhood Type 2 diabetes alarms physicians Families can recognize risks, prevent onset of disease

HOUSTON - The number of children diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes is on the rise - exposing them to serious health risks associated with a disease traditionally referred to as adult-onset diabetes. "

We are seeing an alarming shift in the paradigm of a disease that once was thought to afflict only adults in their 40s and older," said Dr. Siripoom V. McKay, a diabetes and endocrine specialist at Texas Children's Hospital and assistant professor at the Baylor College of Medicine. "Before 1995, less han 5 percent of our newly diagnosed pediatric diabetes patients were Type 2. 

Last year, that figure rose to 31 percent." Approximately 16 million people in the United States have diabetes, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of those Americans, more than 90 percent are Type 2 diabetics. 

Although Type 1 still accounts for the majority of childhood diabetes cases, the rise in adolescent obesity has increased the incidence of Type 2 dramatically. 

"Although we have seen children as young as 5 years old with Type 2 diabetes, more commonly the mean age of those children diagnosed with Type 2 is 13-and-a-half years old," said Dr. McKay. 

"This youthful trend presents medical concerns, particularly in the case of Type 2 diabetes where the duration of the disease creates greater health risks." Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC. 

Type 2 diabetes, which is a metabolic disorder resulting from the body's inability to make enough, or properly use, insulin, can result in several life-threatening complications, including blindness, kidney disease, nerve disease, lower-extremity amputations, heart disease and stroke. 

"Unlike the attention-getting physical symptoms of Type 1, Type 2 diabetes presents acute symptoms that might not be as noticeable to parents," said Sue McGirk, diabetes research nurse coordinator at Texas Children's diabetes care center. 

Symptoms of diabetes include fatigue, frequent urination, extreme thirst and hunger, vision changes and unexpected weight loss. Specifically for Type 2 diabetes, a darkening around the neck often is present. Additional risk factors are inactivity, obesity, high blood pressure, a family history of diabetes and ethnicity. 

"Parents need to be aware of their family's medical history and to discuss t with their child's doctor," said Dr. McKay. "Children of family members with Type 2 are clearly at greater risk. Those of African-American, Mexican-American, American-Indian, Asian or Pacific islander descent also have an increased risk of developing the disease." 

Diabetes is a life-long condition that often requires a permanent change in lifestyle. By ensuring that family members avoid large food portions, eat healthy by controlling the intake of fat and calories and remain physically active, parents can help prevent the onset of diabetes. "It is extremely important that families make health and fitness apart of their daily activity," said Dr. McKay. 

"Parents should also understand that fitness doesn't solely equate to weight loss. Children who are physically active reduce their risk of health complications in general." To assist families in their transition to a healthier lifestyle, Texas Children's offers a comprehensive, 16-hour training program to patients and their family members diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. 

For more information on the diabetes center at Texas Children's Hospital, visit www.texaschildrenshospital.org, click on patient care centers and then diabetes. FACT SHEET Recognizing the risks of the Type 2 diabetes "¢ Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include fatigue, frequent urination, extreme thirst and hunger, vision changes and unexpected weight loss. 

Additionally, Type 2 diabetics often have a darkening around the neck called acanthosis nigricans. "Physical inactivity, obesity, high blood pressure, a family history of diabetes and race/ethnicity are risk factors associated with Type 2 diabetes. People of African-American, Mexican-American, American Indian, Asian or Pacific islander descent are particularly at a higher risk. "¢ Diabetes is a life-long disease. Treatment includes proper diet, exercise and medication.


Friday, January 25, 2002

Congreso de Latinos opens new digs Headquarters now offers one-stop shopping for social services

Nicholas Torres, left, Congreso's executive director with employee at headquarters. (G.W. MILLER III / DAILY NEWS)

By MICHAEL HINKELMAN
hinkelm@phillynews.com

CONGRESO DE Latinos Unidos has always been the city's foremost community-based social service organization for Latinos.

It's got political clout. Former Congreso executive director Alba Martinez is the city's Commissioner of Human Services, and the city contributes 55 percent of its $11.7 million budget.

Now, it's got something else to boast about - a new, six-story headquarters at the corner of American and Somerset streets in Fairhill. Formal dedication ceremonies are scheduled for this afternoon.

The facility, five years in the making, cost $6.5 million and was financed largely through contributions from the state, city and major foundations.

But the building, which was formerly a state prison factory that manufactured mattresses and boiler parts, is more than just a new headquarters for Congreso, said executive director Nicholas Torres.

The state-of-the-art facility will enable Congreso's 170 full-time staffers to provide enhanced social services for over 9,000 adults and children.

The headquarters consolidates several former branch offices at the new location so clients don't have to traipse to different locations in the city for assistance. The center is known as the Family and Workforce Development Center.

Congreso also can provide a wide array of social services all under one roof. "It's like . . . a one-stop shop social service agency," Torres said.

The building also has computer labs and high-speed Internet connections, in addition to work areas set aside to teach special union trades.

"We have to train individuals for the market of today," Torres said.

"If we're trying to build a workforce and take individuals out of low skills and low educational achievement and help them find jobs we need to teach them technology," Torres said.

Workforce development is likely to play a bigger role in Congreso's mission in the coming years, Torres said.

Statistics from a 2001 survey of 400 Latino households in Philadelphia and the 1999 Current Population Survey indicate a desperate need for such services.

Forty-eight percent of respondents in the 2001 survey have a 12th-grade education or less and 55 percent are either unemployed or not in the labor force, according to the CPS.

Torres said many Congreso employees got their initial job training after they were hired by Congreso. "We're almost a training lab ourselves," he said.

In addition to job training, the new computer facility also enables Congreso to keep in closer touch with clients.

"The technology enables us to bring all the services together and allows us to monitor a client more closely," Torres said. In the past, he said, a client may have received multiple services, but Congreso didn't know about it.

The new building is also designed to showcase the diversity of the Latino community.

Interiors and floors were designed to mimic small Latin American villages. Hallways and corridors are set at angles to reflect the winding streets found in many Latin American countries.

Each floor serves a different purpose, so all housing-related services are located on one floor, job training on another and so forth.

Walls are painted in vibrant orange and purple, which are traditional favorites in Puerto Rico, Torres said. An abundance of windows provides plenty of light.

"Clients like the building, they like the space, it's nice and clean, and, you know, they deserve to have everything they get," Torres said.

ゥ 2000 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.


Posted on Sun, Jul. 07, 2002
Cultural disconnect masks the diversity of Latin music
By Tom Moon
Inquirer Music Critic

It's been called the "Latin invasion," the constellation of pop stars with roots in Puerto Rico, Mexico and elsewhere who have arrived like messengers from a tropical galaxy, to conquer the States.

Ricky Martin. Enrique Iglesias. Jennifer Lopez. Marc Anthony, who performs Saturday at the First Union Center. Shakira. Paulina Rubio. Each embodies a different type of heat. Each rides a faintly exotic rhythm tweaked to appeal to Anglo ears.

Every time a star is born, there's celebration in the Latino entertainment industry, which accounted for $642.6 million in U.S. recorded-music shipments last year, up 6 percent from 2000. It's seen as further proof of creeping changes in the U.S. cultural appetite, confirmation that the power of the country's 32.8 million Hispanic residents can no longer be denied.

Yet those who have devoted their lives to Latin music - from Portuguese fado to Brazilian bossa nova to age-old Cuban son, all on stage next weekend at the Kimmel Center's "Fiesta Latina" - can't help but cringe.

"I love Shakira, she's beautiful," legendary New York salsa and Latin-jazz pianist Eddie Palmieri says, referring to the Colombian star, whose English-language debut was released in November. "But the tragedy is that people in this country think she is Latin music.
"The fact is, what she's doing is very limited, rhythmically, compared to what else there is. People who get excited by her music, they should prepare themselves, because they're going to get blown away when they hear the real thing."

If, that is, they do hear the real thing.  Though the recent Latino pop boom would seem to have sparked widespread interest in Hispanic culture, many veteran musicians accuse the industry of promulgating the millennial equivalent of "Babalu." The music's emphasis on gloss, its goal of assimilating by baldly embracing American pop tropes, has obscured the energy and the regional distinctions that enrich the broad range of styles characterized as "Latin."

Some groan that Latin pop has perpetuated the notion, entrenched since at least the mambo craze of the '50s, that the music coming from the Afro-Latin diaspora is nothing more than mindless dance music.

At the very moment that Latin music has arrived in the mainstream, some of its most important musical attributes - its rhythmic intricacy, staggering array of splinter styles, and juxtaposition of exacting precision against wild, flowing inspiration - are being slighted by the Latin-pop marketing machine.

"What's happening now is, when [the labels] get one thing that works, they want everything else to sound like that," says Albita Rodriguez, the Cuban singer now living in Miami, who will play Saturday in Verizon Hall.

Hyped as a salsa siren when she arrived a decade ago, the former Emilio Estefan protege - who performs under her first name - received the major-label push on several records, didn't break, and recently released Hecho a Mano, a small-label Unplugged-style back-to-basics son collection whose title is translated as "handmade."

The labels have rigid notions of what will appeal to Latin or crossover buyers, she says. "They don't care if it's a vulgar copy. They're scared of the diversity that's out there... . A lot of that, they don't know how to sell."

Albita, who says she left pop to grow musically, believes that the industry will eventually realize that Latin music's diversity is its strength. It's the very thing that attracts many Anglos fed up with the rote postures of pop.

Just when the musically adventurous tire of Bebel Gilberto and the other Brazilian electro-acoustic hybrids, a new rhythmic style from the African communities of Peru or the clubs of Monterrey, Mexico, (typified by the currently hot electro-Latin band Kinky) comes along to expand the horizon a bit further. Where Latin pop parades uniformly pretty (and "Americanized") sex symbols, the rest of Latin music is a bustle of styles, contentious philosophies, and highly individual dance pulses colliding in unexpected ways.

"The beauty of what's going on now is that Latin music is no longer based on one sound or one rhythm," says Tomas Cookman, an artist manager and cofounder of the Latin Alternative Music Conference to be held in New York next month. "It's not like we're all out here selling the 'Macarena.' It's all over the place. When you look beyond the pop stars, what you see now is a thriving bazaar."

The wares in that bazaar are influencing pop in unexpected ways. Non-Latin acts are taking a mix-and-match approach to Latin styles that's similar to the collage mentality of hip-hop. "I Can't Stop," the most compelling song on Will Smith's new Born to Reign, is built on a surging Enrique Iglesias-style gallop.

Also transcending geographical and linguistic barriers are romantic balladeers and songwriters who have upended longstanding Brazilian forms. Artists who incorporate Afro-Cuban religious chants or electronica's undulating loops. Singers who can melt ice with the slightest whisper, and others revered for their razor-sharp timing.

There are the wise septuagenarians of the Buena Vista Social Club and the anarchist teens of rock en español bands. Latin music's beats stretch from Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes' agitated displays of jazz virtuosity to torturously slow songs of longing performed by Misia, the fado singer who plays next Sunday at the Perelman Theater.

Latin's themes venture into the same territory explored in "serious" singer-songwriter pop. "Plastico," from the 1978 Rubén Blades/Willie Colón classic Siembra, is as trenchant a commentary on materialism as any in pop. Its arrangements - developed by producers who work both Latin and Anglo projects - may sound streamlined, but they're really a collection of elaborately choreographed interlocking parts, each contributing to an unstoppable locomotion, articulating a different facet of the syncopated clave rhythm that is the heartbeat of much Latin music.

"Latin music has as many, if not more, genres than American pop music," says Bruno del Granado, head of Miami's Maverick Musica, the Latin branch of Madonna's Maverick Records.

"Even those who are working on the pop side aren't just proud of their roots, they're knowledgeable. They can talk to you about Radiohead, and they can talk about Beny Moré [the pioneering Cuban singer of the '50s]. They're citizens of the world, not just bilingual, but bicultural," del Granado says.

The problem is that the Anglo audience isn't correspondingly fluent, many contend. A profound cultural disconnect keeps Latin music's creative explosion mostly underground in North America, where Anglo ears hear salsa, calypso and samba as the same basic limbo-line-at-the-resort fare. They are unable - or, perhaps, unwilling - to get beyond its utility in order to discover the music's distinctions and differences.

"What people outside of the Latin world don't understand is that, in Cuba, and Puerto Rico, and all over the place, the popular music is also the high culture," says Dita Sullivan, who manages the forward-looking Cuban singer and songwriter Juan-Carlos Formell.

"You dance to it, yes. But it's also regarded as art music. There isn't this middlebrow American prejudice that says everything popular is low. There's respect. It's loved, and cherished, and celebrated as an expression of something vital to the life of the people."

Will that indifference ever go away in the United States? Philadelphia producer Aaron Levinson - whose next project, Un Gran Dia En El Barrio, by the New York all-star band Spanish Harlem Orchestra, will be released in September - believes it can. He's noticed that, when Latin music is approached with an open mind, the conversion experience can be profound.

"People are curious about it now," Levinson says. "It's sort of all around us, and the people who are paying attention know how powerful it can be. One of the heaviest [non-Latino] house DJs in New York put Un Gran Dia on his top 20. He's taking these pure salsa vocals and spinning them in a deep house context. We didn't seek that out: The record's not even out yet. He's finding us."

A triumph like that sends out ripples. "It's what I call the Velvet Underground effect," Levinson continues, referring to the '60s rock band that was enormously influential without ever experiencing commercial success.

"You may only sell 10,000 copies of a record, but those people who bought it are like zombie converts. Their world has been changed; they can't stop talking about it. And they come back for more."

Contact Tom Moon at 215-854-4965 or tmoon@phillynews.com. (c) 2001 inquirer and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.philly.com


HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH CELEBRATING AMERICA'S MELTING POT
By Congressman
Ciro D. Rodriguez

Washington, D.C. - Every year, September is recognized as "Hispanic Heritage Month." This is a time when Hispanics, as a community, pause and reflect upon their heritage, culture and contributions to this great country. This special time also provides the opportunity foe all Americans, from every ethnic background, to understand the unique values held by each of us and leam to overcome the challenges we all share.

National Hispanic Heritage Month was created to honor Hispanic Americans for their many contributions to our Nation and our culture. First designated by Congress in 1968 as a week to honor Hispanic accomplishments, the observance later took hold among civil rights groups and other organizations. In 1988, Congress authorized the President to issue an annual proclamation designating September 15 through October 15 as "National Hispanic Heritage Month."

September also marks the beginning of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's (CHCI) Annual Issues Conference. For the last 25 years, the CHCI has pursued its mission to develop the next generation of Hispanic leaders through its educational and leadership programs.

This year, beginning on September 16th, the CHCI Issues Conference will provide an important forum for Hispanic leaders to dialogue on issues affecting our community ranging from education to health care to small business.

I will chair the Health Summit entitled, "Building a Healthy Tomorrow: Hispanics and Health Care Policy," where we focus specifically on issues of access to care and health disparities. Dr. Francisco Cigarroa, President of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, will join me to speak on the importance of steering more Hispanic students into the health professions pipeline. I also envision the Issues Conference as an opportunity to follow-up on the recommendations developed at the recent National Hispanic Health Leadership Summit in San Antonio, Texas.

During the summit, we recommended improvements in outreach to the under-served, making insurance and health care more accessible, better treatment for behavioral health, reducing violence in our communities and continuing to address the growing problems associated with HIV/ATOS and infectious diseases.

As parents and leaders, our primary concern should remain the well-being of our children. With this in mind, CHCI has planned to hold a youth workshop and a youth town hall meeting as part of the conference.

Recent statistics document the alarming disparities of incarceration rates for young Hispanics as compared to other ethnicities, and a dramatic rise in drug-use and crime among youths of all backgrounds. Trends such as these are troubling and should be the driving force for a collaborative effort in developing solutions that benefit not only Hispanics, but all Americans.

Through a meaningful exchange of ideas and an open dialogue, such as CHCI's Issues Conference we can develop and implement real solutions to the challenges facing Hispanics. While the conference is tailored to Hispanic needs, the issues addressed will improve the health and well-being of the entire nation.

All under-served communities will benefit from increased research and more culturally competent education programs, access to quality health care and the proper development of our children.

Posted on Fri, Sep. 06, 2002


Study: Disparity in graduation rates for Latinos
By James M. O'Neill
Inquirer Staff Writer

For years, colleges have tried to increase the numbers of Latino students entering their doors. But a national study released yesterday indicates that they must do a better job ensuring results at the back end - with graduation.

While second-generation Latinos enroll in college at the same rates as their white peers, they are not earning bachelor's degrees at nearly the same rate, according to the study, issued by the Pew Hispanic Center, supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts of Philadelphia.

About 37 percent of white high school graduates between 25 and 29 hold a bachelor's degree, while only 16 percent of comparable Latino students do, the study found after analyzing census data.

"In the past, higher education was more focused on the front end - getting Latino students enrolled - but it's clear we need to focus more on what happens once they're here," said Victor Vazquez, Temple University's special assistant for administration.

The findings are significant because Latinos are expected over the next decade to drive a large national increase in college-bound students.

The national disparity in Latino graduation rates is also reflected locally. While 44.6 percent of all Temple University undergraduates earn a bachelor's within six years, only 37.5 percent of Latino students do.

At Rutgers University, the six-year graduation rate for all students is 69 percent, compared with 57 percent for Latinos.

The six-year graduation rate at Pennsylvania State University for all students is 63 percent, compared with 53 percent for Latinos. (The numbers at the main campus at University Park are 81 percent and 68 percent, respectively.)

The reasons for the disparity are many, but they center on financial and family pressures. The study found that Latinos were more likely to attend community college than their peers, more likely to be part-time students, and more likely to be older when they enrolled in college.

Many of these decisions are made for financial reasons, but research has indicated that such choices reduce the chance of actually finishing college.

Mike Greenup, an assistant dean and director of Hispanic affairs at Rutgers' Camden campus, said he often saw Latino students decide to attend part-time so they could pay their way through college rather than take on formidable student-loan debt.

"I tell them that if they take out a loan, they can finish faster," he said. "It's an old-fashioned way of thinking, but they don't want debt. It's a really big deal to them. It's not necessarily the students themselves, but more their families. It's a cultural thing, absolutely."

Greenup said many Latino students feel they must continue to work, often full-time, while attending college classes so they can contribute to the family income.

The answer, Greenup said, is to make Latino students more aware of the benefits of attending college full-time. He said another solution would be to provide them with more direct counseling on the financial-aid process, which can be overwhelming, especially for immigrant parents unfamiliar with the paperwork involved.

Carmelo Miranda Lopez, recruitment coordinator at the Community College of Philadelphia, agrees. He said many immigrant parents misunderstand the nature of the loans and think that since they must fill out some paperwork, they, rather than the students, are responsible for the loans.

"It can scare them into saying the loan amount is a lot of money, and they can't afford to be responsible for it," Miranda Lopez said.

Without the loan, the student ends up leaving college for a time to save money for tuition.

"But then life impinges, and all of a sudden college doesn't look as important," said Miranda Lopez, who left Haverford College for a year to work before getting his degree.

Vazquez said that after noting the low graduation rate among Temple's Latino students, Latino faculty and staff decided in the mid-1990s to reach out to those students and provide them with more mentoring. That effort has paid off, he said, but graduation rates still have a long way to go.

Contact James M. O'Neill at 215-854-2514 or joneill@phillynews.com.


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