Keeping them in

FORTY-FIVE percent of Mexican-American and Puerto Rican students in the continental United States drop out of school, compared with 17 percent of Anglos , according to a new study. And nearly half of these drop out before high school , reports a survey by the National Commission on Secondary School for Hispanics.

For the benefit of young Hispanics and the rest of the nation, this situation must be turned around. Increasingly jobs, not to mention the requirements of everyday living, are demanding a high degree of literacy and learning from adults. It is a trend that will accelerate. To participate to their fullest capabilities in society, tomorrow's adults will have to be well educated. Schooling thus becomes a key to the future for all of today's American children, whether white, Hispanic, black, or other grouping.

School boards whose systems enroll sizable numbers of Hispanic children should look anew at their dropout rates and take steps to meet the educational requirements of Hispanics or others who are dropping out. The new study says some Hispanics quit because they feel schools do not care about them or about helping them to meet their career aspirations. In some schools it would help to provide more appropriate educational challenges, tutoring aid, or more counseling for students on the road to dropping out.

Similarly, the importance of persuading their children to complete school should be clearly pointed out to all parents.

Adding urgency to the problem: Hispanics are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States. And there is the language challenge. Some Hispanic students require special aid in English, the report says; but it finds too little help is provided and that no federal money is now available to aid them.

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