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Ethnic Tensions in High Schools

March 18, 1993

In recent weeks, there have been a number of disturbing incidents at Mark Keppel High School which have resulted in heightened conflict between Asian and Latino students, arrests, and police being brought on campus.

The ethnic tensions in the school district involve larger underlying issues which the school district needs to address.

For example, we need to know why Latinos have such a high expulsion rate. In the academic year 1990-91, Latinos by far had the highest expulsion rate of any group in all three high schools.

At a meeting with the Multi-Ethnic Task Force last fall, school administrators informed the group that this pattern has been going on for 20 years and that they do not know how to explain it.

Latinos also have the highest dropout rates of any ethnic group in three local high schools. In the years 1989-1992, there were a total of 492 Latino dropouts at San Gabriel High School; 177 at Mark Keppel; and 426 at Alhambra High.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday March 21, 1993 Home Edition San Gabriel Valley Part J Page 2 Column 5 Zones Desk 2 inches; 37 words Type of Material: Correction
Letter writer--The name of a Monterey Park man who wrote a letter to the editor about the need to examine why Latinos are faring poorly in school is Jose Calderon. Because of a typing error, his name was printed incorrectly in Thursday's San Gabriel Valley edition.

In terms of the number of high school graduates completing the six component UC requirements for admittance into college, the figures are even more dismal when Latinos are compared to other groups in the schools.

What follows from these figures is the postgraduation aspirations by ethnicity. In the period 1989-1992, the average at all three high schools revealed that while 75% of Asian graduating seniors aspired to four-year colleges, only 13% of Latinos had such plans. Instead, at Alhambra High, 60% of Latinos opted for vocational/technical schools.

On the one hand, it is important to laud the academic accomplishments of Asian students in the schools. On the other, there is a need to get at the roots of why Latinos are faring so poorly academically.

In this time of diminishing resources, there is a trend toward blaming each other for one's gains or losses. No one benefits from such an approach. As a concerned parent of two children in the district, I urge our communities to focus on the structural causes of the problems and work together to find common solutions.

JOHN CALDERON

Monterey Park

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