Bachechi, Kimberly N. “Workin' towards something steady: Aspirations and education in a semi-rural Hispanic community”, PhD, Boston College, 2015. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:104162.
Recent work on Hispanic immigrants has consistently shown a decline in educational attainment over generations-since-immigration despite the fact that advanced education is currently presented in the public arena as the foundation for economic mobility (Telles and Ortiz). This study investigates the seeming contradiction of Hispanic youth's disengagement from the system that is presented as the pathway to increased economic achievement. The dissertation is based on findings from a qualitative study consisting of in-depth interviews, focus groups, and ethnographic data collected during an 18 month stay in a small, semi-rural, largely Hispanic, community in New Mexico, where the local high school has a graduation rate of 55%. Refuting claims that school disengagement emerges from either low ability or "leveled aspirations," the findings of this study indicate that young people's decisions are based largely on the advice that they are given regarding the economic utility of post-secondary schooling. Lacking this advice these young people determined it was not worth the risk of time out of the labor market, money, and effort that advanced schooling required. The findings of this study argue that one of the key reasons these young people disengage from school stems from the failure of any institution or individual to make it clear to students how educational credentials connect to occupational opportunities. Thus, a number of young people who have had some success at school still choose to leave because they are unconvinced that educational credentials are actually economically useful.