Education Gap Among Underrepresented Students Focus of March 25 Lecture

Issue Date: 
March 22, 2010

In a lecture exploring the underlying issues behind the education gap for underrepresented students, Patricia Gándara, a professor of education at UCLA, will discuss the ramifications of the stagnant level of graduation rates for the nation’s fastest- growing populations. Titled “Finding Solutions to the Latino Education Crisis: A National Imperative,” the lecture will be delivered at 2:30 p.m. March 25 in Room 5604 Posvar Hall. The free and public event is part of Pitt’s 2009-10 Learning Policy Center (LPC) Colloquium Series. An RSVP is required for attendance; for more information or to RSVP, visit

Latinos comprise the largest underrepresented group in the United States, yet their rate of college completion is significantly lower than any other demographic group. In her talk, Gándara will discuss the cultural, educational, and social barriers that prevent underrepresented groups from obtaining quality educations. She will offer insight into the consequences for the United States, as the nation’s job market continues to demand more education levels in nearly every career field and underrepresented populations continue to make up larger portions of the workforce. She also will describe effective programs that use online curriculums to assist immigrant students at the prekindergarten through 12th-grade level gain access to core college preparatory coursework.

Gándara’s research centers on such issues as educational equity and access for underrepresented students, language policy, and the education of youth of Mexican descent. In addition to her teaching and research within UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, she is codirector for the University’s Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles. Prior to joining UCLA’s faculty, she served as the director of education research in the California legislature, commissioner for postsecondary education for the State of California, and associate director of the University of California Linguistic Minority Research Institute.

Gándara earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and English literature and a PhD in educational psychology at UCLA in 1969 and 1979, respectively; she earned a master’s degree in counseling and school psychology at the California State University at Los Angeles in 1972 and a certificate in Spanish language and literature at the Universidad Menendes-Pelayo in Spain in 1974. She is the author of several books, including the forthcoming Understanding the Latino Education Gap: Why Latinos Don’t Go to College (Harvard University Press, 2010).

The mission of Pitt’s LPC is to advance ideas that encompass both education policy and research on teaching and learning. The LPC utilizes Pitt’s School of Education, Learning Research and Development Center, Institute for Learning, and other regional assets to connect high-quality learning research with education policy decision makers. The purpose of the LPC Colloquium Series is to create informed discourse between researchers, policymakers, practitioners, and university students around timely national and local education policy questions.