Educational Patterns of Dominican Immigrants to New York

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Education has always been important within the Dominican community. The majority of the Dominican work force is comprised of young, unskilled labourers, working in the secondary labour market, and the lack of Dominican professionals is a chronic problem. Obviously, a better education could help ameliorate the situation. Cultural laziness, contrary to what many seem to believe, is not the root of this problem. Most Dominicans are extremely hard-working, and, in fact, a large number moved to the U.S because they wanted to pursue higher education. However, our government doesn't have a system to make college readily available to children of the working poor, or the unemployed. Thus, Dominican children are often held back because of their parents poverty. But despite this, there has been much positive change, and more Dominicans are going to college.

In 2000, 35% of the Dominicans born within the U.S. over the age of 25 had some college education - twice as many as in 1980. This is still worse than the average American, nationwide, 52% of the population has some college experience. Plus, of those who went to college, only 10.6% completed their education, nationwide, 24.4% finished college. The high school picture is also a little bleak, less than 20% of the American population did not receive a high school diploma, versus 49% of Dominican students. Clearly, compared to all America, it's not too good, but, within the Hispanic community, if compared to U.S. born Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, you could say that Dominicans are doing quite well. Actually, there are over twice as many Dominicans in college versus Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, the other two large Hispanic populations. Dominicans see their culture as superior to other latin cultures, which may help motivate them to aim higher. Also, the large number of single-parent families has proved a mixed blessing, with many mothers insistent on their children going to college, seeing this as the only way to improve their social status.

Something I should probably mention as well, is the vast difference in status between first and second generation immigrants. The fact that Dominicans have come so far so quickly alone is noteworthy.About 60 percent of U.S. born Dominicans, 25 and older, have some college education, and, of these, 21.9% have even completed their education, receiving degrees. Once again, this is ahead of U.S. born Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, of which only 13.3 and 12.1 percent respectively have completed college.

In New York, the number of second-generation Dominican Americans attending college grew from 31.7% in 1980, to 55.1% in 2000. In contrast to other minority populations, Dominican children are almost always sent to school and so Dominican children have higher school enrollment rates. In NYC, the percentage of Dominican children who stay in high school is higher than that of of the general Hispanic populaion, and for females the percentage is almost equivalent to the average New York City retention rate. In 2000, there were 111,553 Dominican children enrolled in the NYC public school system, 10.4% of the student population. For public colleges, 8.5% of the students were Dominican (again higher than Puerto Ricans).

All things considered, the educational future looks bright for Dominicans, they are hard-working and adept, and, if their present rate of progress continues, maybe they'll even surpass the national averages!