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ASK A MEXICAN

¡Ask a Mexican!

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Dear Mexican: Please explain to me why so many mexicanas seem to think it more important to stay home and babysit than to attend school (so that they may become more in life than producers of offspring). As an educator (lately of students identified as “at risk” for failure in high school), I have faced “absent on account of child care” as the leading excuse for non-attendance and truancy among my mexicana students. Please note, too, that these are not the young women’s children; often, they are not even the children of the nuclear family. Consider as well that this is a rare-to-nonexistent excuse among any other student group (in other words, this does not come up among diverse Latina or other populations). – Teach Her

Dear Gabacho: I’m not really sure what the point of your question is. Are you trying to imply that Mexican families don’t want their daughters to go to school? I’m hearing nowadays in my education circles concern about how Mexican teenage boys are falling behind their hermanas in educational attainment. Do you know for a fact that those girls are taking care of kids at home, or did you fall for their excuse by assuming that Mexican girls are about as far away from babies to take care of as a Bedouin is from a camel? I’m not trying to deny or excuse the disturbing rates of truancy among Mexicans, among the highest of any ethnic group in the United States, but instead of harping on one particular, imagined cause, how about attacking the whole enchilada? In “Preventing Truancy and Dropout Among Urban Middle School Youth,” a paper in the January 2009 issue of Education and Urban Society by Louie F. Rodríguez of Florida International University and Gilberto Q. Conchas at the University of California, Irvine, the profes identified high truancy rates as a leading indicator of an at-risk student (DUH!) and did what you seemingly don’t: ask the students why they’re truant. They also studied a Boston-area community group that succeeded in reducing truancy among Latinos and African-Americans. The trick? Giving a damn about kids, demanding they and their parents care, and making sure it takes a rancho to get the chamacos to succeed. “Educational research, policy, and practice have much to learn from grassroots community-based organizations that directly battle with the social struggles in urban communities,” Rodríguez and Conchas concluded. “Educators must assess the factors and influences within community-based organizations that motivate truant young people as a means to build stronger bonds across institutions.”

Why do Chicanos criticize gabachos while they are in the USA, and when they come back to México, they despise their compatriotas mexicanos by showing off their dólares? Seems that they don’t belong in neither USA nor Mexico. – Chale con el Chilango Chafa

Dear To Hell With Chilango Riffraff: The gabacho part is easy — Mexicans of all colores criticize gabachos, because the Virgin of Guadalupe told us to. As for the criticizing Mexicans in Mexico: they’re just learning from the natives, who never miss a moment to trash Mexicans who live in el Norte and their children as somehow lesser than Mexicans who live in Mexico. All we ever did? Save Mexico’s ass from the Third World with our billions of dollars in remittances.

Ask the Mexican at themexican@askamexican.net, be his fan on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano, or ask him a video question at youtube.com/askamexicano!

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