Socioeconomic Characteristics and Educational Attainment
The socioeconomic portrait of Latinos in Maine supports the emergence of a Latino middle class. The Latino median household income in 1999 was $36,244. This group’s household income was similar to that of Asians ($37,873) and nonLatino whites ($37,408), and it was well ahead of non-Latino blacks ($30,758). Latinos in Maine have high levels of education: Latinos 25 years of age and older have a high school or college degree (79.2 percent) at rates similar to those of non-Latino whites (85.5 percent).
Another factor influencing successful employment outcomes is language proficiency. The majority of Maine Latinos are fluent in English. Of the Latino migrants who report speaking only Spanish in the home, nearly three-quarters (72.4 percent) report speaking English very well. The public school systems in Maine appear to be addressing the needs of Latino children. For example, the Portland public schools has an Office of Multilingual and Multicultural Programs that offers technical assistance, training, and support to teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL).
And besides providing professional development, diversity training, and support materials for all teachers and administrators within the school district, that office also assists other professionals in the area, offers support to the community to train people in cultural competency, and employs a parent-community specialist who provides outreach and support to Latino families whose children attend the city’s public schools. Spanish is the third most spoken language in which service is provided in Portland’s schools, behind Somali and Cambodian.