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Ethnic Group in the United States

1). In urban areas, the drop out rate for Hispanic students is 50 percent or higher and 56 percent are functionally illiterate (Berry, 1998, p. 631).

These problems and others were alluded to by an Hispanic instructional aide and translator, an elementary school teacher with experience teaching Hispanic children; a female immigrant from Mexico; and her son (personal communication December 7, 1998). When asked about the most important things in life the mother answered that her family, and the children came first. The family regularly attend the local Catholic Church and consider it important. Neither parent is fluent in English and they want their son to learn to speak English quickly to help with communication and to teach them to speak it as well. Communication between the school and home is facilitated by the aide who is fluent in both Spanish and English. The teacher sends all notes home in both English and Spanish but acknowledges that communication problems still exist because some parents are not literate in either language. The student mentioned that some students get beaten if the teacher sends a note home because the Father will assume it means the student did something wrong. The aide agreed that it has happened and that when it is known that a parent does not read well then she will attempt to speak directly to a parent before or after school. Most of the children are walked to and from school by their mothers which facilitates communication and interaction between teachers and parents.

The mother said that homework was a problem because she and her husband could not help their son because of language difficulties and making time. Their son is the oldest of five children all under eight. He is expected to help with his siblings and his chores. The mother explained that it is difficult to find time to help him with his spelling words and learning his math facts. There are few books in the home and trips ...

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