Background/Context: Latinos are significantly more likely than Blacks or Whites to indicate high levels of satisfaction with local public schools. This is despite Latinos’ low level of academic achievement relative to other groups of students.
Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: The purpose of this study is to investigate the apparent contradiction between Latino parents’ high praise for public schools and Latino students’ outcomes. Specifically, this study disaggregates the data on Latinos’ praise for public schools to examine the extent to which Latino parents’ satisfaction differs between elementary, middle, and high school.
Research Design: This project was a secondary analysis of data from the Latino National Survey.
Findings/Results: Net of the effects of the control variables, Latino parents of elementary schoolchildren were significantly more likely to give the highest praise to their local public schools than parents of middle or high school students. This was true for both native- and foreign-born parents.
Conclusions/Recommendations: Reports of Latinos’ satisfaction with local public schools that do not account for children’s grade level are exaggerated. Latino parental satisfaction with local public schools is now at its peak – and we expect it to drop sharply in the near future as the disproportionately large cohort of Latino students now in elementary school moves into middle and high school. As the Latino school-aged population grows in the U.S., trends in Latino parents’ relationship with public schools and how they exercise voice or exit as a result of their (dis)satisfaction will be further elucidated. This study highlights one specific issue around which coalitions can be formed across parents to address the needs of Latino children in school.