Indianapolis group suggests changes in education of Latino, Black students

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The first report of Business Equity for Indy‘s learning and opportunities task force says fewer Latino and Black students are graduating from college, and businesses are feeling the impact.

“We need to all take action to address those disparities,” said Claire Fiddian-Green, co-chair of the task force. She’s also the president and chief executive officer of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, which provides grants to advance the vitality and well-being of the people of Indianapolis.

According to the task force, 3,077 Black students in 2013 graduated from high school in Marion County, but only 442 of those students graduated from college.

The task force says an education gap has made it harder for Black and Hispanic residents and businesses to thrive in the community. The report says employers who want more diversity are also struggling to hire more workers to fill their knowledge and skill-based positions.

To help bring change, the report makes recommendations that include exposing students to different career pathways.

“The fact that these gaps exist, that they are impacting too many Black and Hispanic individuals and families in our community, should be a real concern for all of us,” Fiddian-Green said.

According to community members, Indiana does not have enough Black and Latino teachers as role models. Francisco Valdiosera, executive director of the Monarca Academy charter school, said, “Educators, leaders who are in the schools who know what it took to get to and the struggles that one has when we even get to college to not just get to college, but to succeed in college.”

Valdiosera is not a member of the task force.

Also, the task force recommended a mandate for completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The task force believes the state government should make FAFSA completion mandatory as part of its high school Graduation Pathways requirement.