Tuesday, June 02, 2015

A crisis in Lao American education

As much as I enjoy working with my colleagues in academia and in Southeast Asian American refugee resettlement, recognizing the 40th anniversary of the Lao Diaspora this year  has me looking at our quantifiable numbers frequently, and I find them wanting.

By our best estimates, only 13.4% of our community over 25 has a bachelor's degree or higher. In 2010, this meant 17,264 out of 232,130 Laotian Americans. That's almost 9 in 10 Lao over 25 without degrees, or 97,726 Lao.

That's enough Lao to make a city the size of Boulder, Colorado. And they're without college degrees. While I obviously have the perspective that a college degree is not necessarily the end-all, be-all of our Lao American journey, I still think that as a community we might want to have a conversation about this.

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