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Latin Americans in the United States

National demographic data place 40 percent of Hispanic children at the poverty level (Lara-Alecio, Irby, & Ebener, 1997, p.27).

Hispanic students are at a disadvantage in the school system for many reasons. The lack of proficiency with the English language makes simple communications difficult with English speaking peers and with teachers who speak only English and may have limited experience with non- or limited English speaking students. The student's parents often speak only Spanish which can make communication between the school and home complex and inconvenient by requiring translation between the teacher and the parent. Parent participation has repeatedly been linked to higher student achievement especially for low income children. Some Hispanic parents had negative experiences with schools and do not wish to repeat the experience. Sometimes these experiences are the result of a lack of sensitivity and understanding on the part of school personnel (Lara-Alecio, Irby, & Ebener, 1997, p. 28). Many parents of Hispanic students are unfamiliar with how the school system functions in the United States and are unaware that they are welcome and encouraged to ask questions and assist in the classroom. They often are ignorant of the link and the relationship between home and school. The language barrier effectively prevents parent participation in many schools and classrooms. Sensitivity to these issues on the part of the teacher can result in more effective learni


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