What blight has fallen on Hispanic kids that keeps too many of them from succeeding?

Hispanic gardenersHere in Marin, children grow up in very politically correct homes.  It would be the rare household in which kids here racist comments from their parents.  Also, here in Marin, kids grow up with Hispanic housekeepers and gardeners, most of whom have an incredible work ethic.  They show up, and they work long, well, and hard.  They are admirable.

But here’s something funny:  I listen to the kids, and what I pick up from them is that, at their public schools, the Hispanic kids are seen as second class.  This isn’t because they’re Hispanic, it’s because they have two qualities the kids in my community disdain:  they’re disproportionately represented amongst the academically lazy and stoner kids.

Think about how peculiar this is:  In the 20th century, most of America’s middle class came, not from the immigrants, but from the immigrants’ children.  The children were born into the migrant slums and saw their parents working like dogs just to get back.  To get out of that poverty and to relieve their parents terrible burden, these children studied hard, if they had access to education, and worked like dogs to raise themselves out of the ghettos.  That held true for Irish, Russians, Italians, Asians, old-time Hispanics, etc.

But something toxic apparently happened to too many in this current generation of Hispanic children.  They live in lousy neighborhoods, their parents and older, Latin-American-born siblings have a superior work ethic and, between wanting to escape the former and being able to emulate the latter, they should be precisely like those Asian “model minorities.”  But the opposite is true.  Too many of them have neither ambition nor discipline.

Any theories?  This is not a race issue.  This is a generational thing, with the children being the mirror image of what immigrant children used to be.

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  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    Dominance of media-driven popular culture probably has something to do with it.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Schools provide no honor or strength, as the Mexican and Latin cultures value. Hard work for the family is an honorable thing of virtue. Studying so you can become a lawyer for the white aristocrats is honorable?

  • qr4j

    What I am about to say is based upon my observations of children at church. I teach Sunday School at an Episcopal (therefore, not terribly uptight and relatively affluent but definitely upwardly mobile) church. The kids I encounter are from largely white middle-class families. But I am guessing some of the same principles apply.

    Parents these days coddle the hell out of their kids all too often. Not all parents. Not all kids. But MANY parents and MANY kids.

    Children are given what they want when they want it. When they throw fits, no one but their parents is allowed to scold them strongly. Discipline? What’s that?

    I am 45 years old. When I was a kid and acted up at church or school, I was appropriately disciplined by that organization’s leaders. When I got home, I got disciplined again.

    My parents placed expectations on me. I had chores to do. When I was in a missionary boarding school in a remote third-world country, I learned to chop wood, clean toilets, and do laundry. We had at least 2 hours of homework every night and on the weekends. And we had study hours during which we were to be quiet. Assignments all done? We read books or listened to music on our walkmen. (Remember those?)

    Why should Hispanic parents be any different from non-Hispanic ones? The difference is likely just how the lack of parenting manifests itself. At least Hispanic kids learn to work!

  • Danny Lemieux

    I recall living in a low-income housing project in Colorado (long ago) populated largely by American Indians and Hispanics.

    One day, I asked a Hispanic welfare mom (her husband was in jail for raping a minor and I suspected that she herself was a quite a bruja) why her kids were running around during the middle of a school day.

    She looked at me and said, “I worked all of my life in the fields (a blatant lie, that one). If it was good for me, it’s good enough for my kids”.

    I suspected then (and now) that her world view was not all that exceptional.

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    Off-topic but may be of interest to some of the crew here: Some survey data is floating around showing a sharp increase in this % of people who object to their kids marrying a member of the opposing political party. I just put up a post on this: But Would You Want Your Daughter to Marry One?


  • sabawa

    No adult supervision? Parents working two jobs? No history of climbing the ladder so it’s not passed on to their kids? Doesn’t one need a vision for the future to go there? I’m not sure if that is part of their culture…not enough role models?

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Mexico is not known for fostering a societal desire for social mobility. Those servants get nailed to a cross.

  • http://www.marchhareshouse.blogspot.com March Hare

    Lots of thoughts on this one, but no hard data…

    1.) Remember when La Raza declared “A Day Without Mexicans” several years back? The idea was to show how invaluable Mexicans were to the community and economy. Mexican students were encouraged to stay home from school as part of the protest. Two comments from my kids. a.) The high school was much quieter, i.e., there was no fighting between the AA and the Hispanic population because there were fewer Hispanics to fight with. b.) My oldest was at community college. When one of his Mexican friends showed up for class, my son asked him why he wasn’t out protesting. His friend basically said the protesters were losers. He was serious about becoming an engineer and didn’t have time to waste on meaningless protests.

    2.) There is a significant gangsta culture within the Hispanic community. It is so prevalent that even in grammar schools certain colors (blue and red) are prohibited. There is a “Gang Task Force” that will question high school students who flash gang signs or symbols, Education is not a priority among this culture.

    3.) While their parents are working, the children either are unsupervised or supervised by siblings. Girls especially are expected to take care of their younger siblings as well as do the household chores mama can’t do because she is working. That takes time, energy, and attention away from schoolwork.

    4.) An acquaintance of mine who teaches first grade and is bilingual has noticed that many Hispanic children do not have extensive vocabularies in either English or Spanish. Their parents don’t talk with them. In fact, the children are encouraged to be quiet and not to make a fuss or interact with adults. Another acquaintance, also a teacher and bilingual, has noticed that many parents are illiterate in Spanish as well as in English. They cannot spell the name of the school. They are unable to read the notices the school sends home. They have no idea they are supposed to be helping their children with schoolwork or how to do so. That is the job of “la maestra”.

    5.) I have heard, and know from experience, that fluency in the language of the “motherland” is lost by the third generation. This is not as noticeable with Hispanics because there is a constant infusion of new immigrants. Plus, we are more accommodating of the newcomers: not only are there as many Spanish language cable channels, store signs, driver’s tests, and ballots are now in Spanish as well. (I don’t mind the store signs, but driver’s tests and ballots should be English only, IMHO.)

  • JKB

    I think we should look to the African-American cultural trend against “acting White”. I suspect something similar is acting in the poor Hispanic adolescents. This is all reinforced, if not prompted, by the DemProg/social services effort to push multiculturalism as a means to stop adoption of White Protestant culture that prevailed for so long in this country.

    Essentially, there is an effort to keep minorities from embracing the modern world with its emphasis on the individual instead of the pre-modern world where the individual was defined at birth by their family, tribe, religion, caste. Perhaps not intentional, but I can’t say with certainty, the DemProgs are creating castes in American culture. This explains their strong reaction against a minority member who refuses to stay in their caste and votes Republican, is out spoken against the racialists, etc. They don’t seem so concerned over a minority member migrating through the classes as long as they stay true to their caste.

    This reading by Alan MacFarlane seems to have some relevance but he is frustratingly indefinite in his discussion:

  • Danny Lemieux

    As JKB points it, it really does boil down to a concept stripped from the PC public domain: culture.

    In the end, it is all about culture. That is why it is so necessary to revive the concept of the melting pot, wherein a truly unifying American culture is forged.

  • Charles Martel

    March Hare’s observations certainly square with my own. I grew up in an Anglo-Mexican neighborhood in Los Angeles, and many of my friends from K-12 were Mexican. I learned a few things from my childhood that don’t seem to have changed much through the years:

    1. Culturally, Mexicans are not attuned to education in the same way that Anglos or Asians are. While the parents of my friends wanted their children to achieve basic literacy, there was little expectation that their offspring would advance beyond blue collar-level jobs. A hands-on business or skill set was the expectation.

    Although that seemingly has changed, with far more Mexican youths enrolled in universities than in my day (the 50s and 60s), most of the majors those kids are involved in are fake, dead-end majors like sociology, education, or “studies” where they emerge thoroughly indoctrinated, as incapable of scholarly inquiry or critical thought as when they entered.

    2. The rise of the welfare state, which cossets illegal immigrants by looking the other way each time they break our laws, makes the United States the equivalent of the girl who puts out without ever asking for anything in return (OK, a vote for the Democrats). The contempt illegal immigrants have for our system is palpable. They most certainly have no intention of paying for the milk they’re getting for free in terms of learning about our effing history, culture or fundamental political assumptions. We are here simply to be screwed until we can’t be screwed anymore.

    3. Obama has destroyed the integrity of our southern border, and even a semi-literate illegal can understand that he/she is now free to cross it at will with little or no penalty. Who would owe fealty to a non-existent state that insists on pandering to him? Why assimilate when the Mother country is a (pretend) border crossing away?

  • JKB

    I googled up “hispanic youth work ethic” and got lots of sociology papers. I skimmed a few, now I feel dirty. How could anyone read such pap day in and day out? Not that some didn’t try but all devolved into the do more, spend more model. None seemed interested in really getting at a truth.

    But one, an NIH paper to help social workers work with Hispanics better had this observation

    “The Mexican cultural value of collectivism and communal orientation has the potential to serve as a protective factor in mitigating distress. The Mexican collectivist cultural value entails mutual empathy, deference to group interest over individual interests, and conformity to group expectations, providing a sense of belonging and respect to the individual (Holleran & Waller, 2003). Cabrera and Padilla (2004) indicated that the presence or lack of a strong family support system may influence the motivation to participate in community and overcome extreme poverty.”

    So there it, a pre-modern, tribe/family culture. So if the community culture devalues school, all are likely to. It should be noted that industriousness was noted about Hispanic youth. The problem seems to be the cultural appreciation of academics.

    From my own, non-Hispanic family, there is an example of this trend. My aunt has told me of my grandfather. He was illiterate because his parents didn’t send him to school. He was very industrious but as you can imagine his employment opportunities were limited. And this was during a time when there were plenty of low skill jobs, just at low pay.

    • JKB

      BTW, one paper did contrast the industriousness and at least desire to learn of the new immigrant, even illegals, with the 2nd generation who were not industrious or academically interested. That paper went so far as to equate these 2nd generation Hispanics with the African-American students.

      That would seem to lend credence to the hypothesis that the welfare state psy war seems to have an impact.

    • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

      “How could anyone read such pap day in and day out? Not that some didn’t try but all devolved into the do more, spend more model.”

      Why don’t you use the phrase “they can justify it all they want but it won’t change…”?

      Or do you feel not so strongly about this issue.

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    Re the earlier waves of immigration, Jews mostly had long placed a high value on education, with high status given to scholars. The same was true, though to a lesser extent, in Protestant countries (Bible-reading was important)…less so with immigrants from Catholic countries such as Ireland and Italy…though deference to authority probably required that when kids went to the public schools, they’d better behave; even more so in the case of the parochial schools.

  • JKB

    Is this a sign that Hispanics and perhaps African-Americans are starting to use math?


    The War on Math is multiplying, dividing families and just doesn’t add up.

  • Michael Adams

    The Bourgeoisie is the enemy. Why educate anyone to join the bourgeoisie? Dependents vote for the Socialists. People trained to be capable, might, eventually, end up voting Re;publican.

    A side issue, but interesting: Lefties talk about “bourgeois patriarchy” Clearly, these idiots have never really seen a pre- bourgeois society up close. . The women are all utterly subservient to the men. They put up with krep that Anglo women would not tolerate in their sleep. This is sometimes literally true, as one can see on a post-partum unit. The husbands or baby-daddies come for conjugal visits. The nursing staff try to tell the women that intercourse so soon after giving birth can lead to serious complications. The women, if they explain or even answer, just say that they have to be able to feed this baby and the other five. They can’t afford to refuse the bread-winner his due. The dominance of the El Cid type permeates the entire society. They are Guardians, takers, not Makers. For them, there is no dignity in making anything, only in taking. This Guardian-dominance is the pattern in all of Latin America, except for, perhaps, Argentina and Costa Rica. That’s why it is so terrible for us that they are coming here in such overwhelming numbers.

    BTW, I sent you Systems of Survival last year. If you did not get it, let me know, or borrow Chuck”s.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Pretty funny link you posted, JKB.

    Tell me, was that story about Hispanics acting Walter White?

    • JKB

      Don’t know. I do know the schools can be pretty militant when a kid just uses the formula method as opposed to one of the confusing common core math methods.

      But calling in a raid seems a bit extreme.