by Trimmel Gomes
A new study shows that selective public colleges nationwide admit disproportionately low numbers of black and Latino students, while receiving more funding per student.
The study, from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, found that all 41 states that have selective public colleges fund them at higher rates per student than their open enrollment colleges. But black and Latino students are underrepresented in almost all those publicly funded schools.
“Florida is the only state in the country in which Latinos are proportionally represented at selective public colleges.”
According to Martin Van Der Werf, associate director of editorial and postsecondary policy at the center and co-author of the report, Florida is showing significant progress, at least when it comes to Latino students.
“Florida is the only state in the country in which Latinos are proportionally represented at selective public colleges,” Van Der Werf said. “And that is really helped out by the fact that Florida International University is a selective public college and it’s about 70 percent Latino.”
However, African-American students remain under-represented. Although 21 out of every 100 college-age youth are black, they account for just eight out of every 100 freshmen at the state’s selective public colleges.
Van Der Werf said selective college admissions rely heavily on SAT scores, but those scores aren’t reliable indicators of college success.
He contends SAT scores reflect the quality of prior schooling and parental educational attainment, factors that favor white students. And selective public college admissions mirror the unequal funding of the K-12 system.
“We give more resources to the wealthier districts,” he said. “The wealthier districts produce students who do better on the tests, those students go on to selective colleges and things just don’t tend to change over time.”
He said wealthier school districts tend to serve more white children. Van Der Werf said he believes selective public colleges need to take a more holistic approach to admissions.
“That they accept students from a broader cross-section of the public, because these universities ought to be serving the broad cross-section of all people in that state,” he said.
According to the report, 38 percent of white Americans have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 23 percent of black Americans and 17 percent of Latinos.
Public News Service – FL
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