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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Media Coverage of Immigrants in Public Schools Is Uneven, and Journalists, Scholars Share the Blame

by William Celis — December 04, 2006

There is a disconnect between the scholarship about immigrant children and the media that report it. Reasons abound for the uneven coverage in print and broadcast outlets, and this commentary explores the reasons why: From tainted research to uneven journalism, the American public is often left in the dark about the contributions and impact of immigrant children on the nation's public schools.

Pity the typical American who sits down these days to read, listen, or view a report about immigrants and public education. When they have finished digesting the news, they are likely to be left with a report that is incomplete or lacks context, if the immigrant experience in schools is even covered. Journalists, always easy targets, are only partly to blame for the muddle of voices we hear.

"We're overwhelmed in North Carolina trying to pay for the people who aren’t supposed to be here," Ron Woodard, director of N.C. Listen, a group in Cary that advocates greater restriction of immigration, recently told the Raleigh, N.C., News & Observer. "Why are we having to spend money on people who are here illegally?"1

The News & Observer, a well-regarded newspaper, never bothers to answer the question, which would have been easy enough to do. Public schools in North Carolina and elsewhere pay for the education of immigrant kids, whether here legally or illegally, because they are required to do so under federal law. The Plyler vs. Doe decision, a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, rarely cited in education stories about immigrant children, overturned a Texas law that allowed the state to withhold funds from any school district that enrolled illegal immigrant children.2 In its opinion, the Court said the state law violated the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment because “the Texas statute imposes a lifetime hardship on a discrete class of children not accountable for their disabling status.” The 5-4 decision arguably altered the face of public education as much as Brown vs. Board of Education.

Context, among other anchors of good journalism, has been lost in the sometimes ill-focused coverage about immigration and education, leaving many Americans with blurry notions about what, if anything, immigrant children are entitled to, how much their educations cost, who they are, how they learn, and what they have contributed.3 Some of these stories are admittedly difficult to cover because there are only estimates for the number of illegal immigrant children in the nation’s schools, generating more coverage that is less than precise. The Raleigh news report, for example, asserts that it costs more to educate immigrant children because of special education materials they need, but KHOU-TV in Houston, Texas, reports that it costs substantially no more to educate immigrant children in city schools than it does American-born children.4 Is the glass half-empty or half-full?

Meanwhile, Community of Peace Academy Charter School in St. Paul, Minn., would be happy for any coverage. The 600-student charter school, one of the oldest in the nation, has tried without success to interest local media to write about its successes and challenges in educating the children of Hmong immigrants. Or reporting how the school earns a sterling bond rating from Standard & Poors. Or writing about the accolades the school has won from the U.S. and Minnesota’s Department of Education.5

“There is a lot of available information about schools and charter schools in particular,” says Dr. Nancy Healy, the school’s instructional facilitator. “It’s hard. There’s a lot to learn, but I’d like journalists to ask. They just don’t ask.”

With the obvious overlooked, it is no surprise that nuance is also lost. There’s little understanding or recognition in coverage that not all immigrant children are recent arrivals; they may represent the second or third generation in the U.S, but they may still view the U.S. through the eyes of an immigrant and may still need services, and that has enormous implications in how immigrant children are educated, said Jill Kerper Mora, an associate professor of teacher education at San Diego State University, who studies immigrant students and their English language acquisition. Few stories explore those issues, she says.6 Scholars and education school professors who track immigrant populations and children and their impact on schools know and understand the court rulings and the nuance of the still-unfolding immigrant story. So do many journalists. Where the breakdown occurs between researchers and journalists is another story, and much of it can be tied to the quality of research.

In these politically polarized times, a report stripped of ideological taint is a rare document indeed. Charter schools, test scores, and the federal No Child Left Behind legislation are favorite targets of think tanks, foundations, and other groups whose political leanings often drive the findings of a study. Look for immigrant children to join the list. The dearth of straightforward research leaves the education journalist trying to discern a report’s scholarly worth, sometimes on deadline. These reports will sometimes get the ink or air time they don’t deserve, but journalists are better at spotting the agenda-driven study.

One former Florida newspaper editor spiked several education stories because he couldn’t tell whether the studies and reports upon which the articles were based were suspect. “When I was in the journalism business, I tried scrupulously to paint as fair a picture as I could and often killed stories because I perceived a slant or bias,” Mark Pudlow wrote me via email. “But I often wasn't equipped to recognize the bias, which I understand is one of the biggest challenges facing journalists today.”7

Framing stories around sturdy data isn’t the only challenge. In the media’s continuing downsizing and realignment—sending more resources, for example, to their online ventures—print and broadcast outlets have pushed veteran reporters and editors into early retirements, layoffs, and buyouts. The resulting hemorrhaging has resulted in fewer journalists doing more work, even as news holes in newspapers shrink because of declining advertising revenue. Specialists aren’t created overnight, and the impact of downsizing and realignment has been fewer and shorter stories at a time when domestic issues, particularly education, and now immigrants’ impact on schools, have become increasingly complex.

Combine that with the fact that the beat itself is still considered “soft” by some newsroom managers and less important, say, than covering politics, city hall, or business. A decade ago, when I was an education correspondent at the New York Times, a colleague met with a top editor at the paper to plan her next move. When she mentioned education reporting as a possibility, my colleague was aghast at the editor’s response.

“We don’t care about education,” he said.

That misguided attitude is changing, thankfully. More editors recognize, as they should, that the education beat is a key newsroom crossroad because to write about education also means writing about immigration, race and class, business, taxes, crime, housing and health. Few beats in the newsroom have the potential to cover as much terrain or more important stories. The Education Writers Association, whose members are increasingly seasoned journalists, has long called for a break-down-the-walls approach to education coverage by removing the increasingly meaningless barriers between newsroom beats and encouraging editors and reporters to approach education coverage broadly.8 The Dallas Morning News, for example, produced a multi-part series in 2004 about the redevelopment of South Dallas, long a heavily minority and economically impoverished section of the city. Central to the paper’s series, updated in 2005, was a package of stories about public schools, the impact of more tax revenue for schools, and the public schools’ significance as community anchors in a new South Dallas.9

Similarly, the Oregonian produced a lengthy series in 2004 about high schools in that state, offering readers a thorough and thoughtful examination about what’s good and bad about the Oregon high school in the new century. The series, which the paper tracked with updates in 2005, looked at family life, community violence, poverty, and a host of other issues that young people bring with them to school.10 More recently, the paper dispatched a reporter and photographer to cover the immigration story in Guatemala for a forthcoming package of stories. Education is expected to be a prominent theme.

More contextual journalism is possible, even on deadline and even during the current downsizing. But journalists could use help from education policy experts, state education officials, and professors at schools of education. They can assist by guiding reporters—the veteran and greenhorn alike—in discerning the good research from the bad, helping journalists avoid the studies whose underpinnings lean to the left or to the right, with little regard to historical context or contemporary realities. Journalists can also help themselves by asking researchers whether their studies were peer reviewed, whose money supported the research, and whether the academic, researcher, or think tank has discernable political leanings.

Katrina’s demolition of New Orleans helped generate discussions in newsrooms—even in journalism schools—about the need to improve the coverage of race and class. Perhaps immigrant children and their impact on schools will do the same for public education, always at the center of important readjustments. Backed by unassailable research, and supported by editors who extend education equal footing with “prestige” beats, journalists can’t fail in recording one of our era’s most important stories.



Notes

1. Schools Bear Burden of Immigration, The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C. Feb. 27, 2006. http://www.newsobserver.com/1155/story/412207.html

2. Plyler vs. Doe. U.S. Supreme Court brief.
http://www.tourolaw.edu/PATCH/Plyler/

3. Plyler vs. Doe, 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding undocumented children and youth.http://www.americanpatrol.com/REFERENCE/PlylerVDoeSummary.html. Immigrant students and their rights. What schools are obligated to provide immigrant students, from the Washington state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. http://www.k12.wa.us/MigrantBilingual/ImmigrantRights.aspx. Celis, William, “Forgotten History of Immigration.” Education Week, Oct. 4, 2006. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2006/10/04/06celis.h26.html

4. Immigrant education report. KHOU-TV, Houston, Texas, Oct. 12, 2006. http://www.khou.com/news/local/stories/khou061012_ac_immigranteducation.2ffd1081.html

5. Dr. Nancy Healy, telephone interview, Nov. 17, 2006. Dr. Healy is instructional facilitator at Community of Peace Academy Charter School in St. Paul, Minn.

6. Jung Zhang, U.S. newspaper coverage of immigration in 2004: A Content Analysis, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. https://txspace.tamu.edu/bitstream/1969.1/2464/1/etd-tamu-2005A-STJR-Zhang.pdf. Dr. Jill Kerper Mora, associate professor of teacher education, San Diego State University, San Diego, Ca., telephone interview, Nov. 17, 2006. Prof. Mora’s web page outlining reporting about test scores of limited English students: http://coe.sdsu.edu/people/jmora/Prop227/celdt.htm

7. Mark Pudlow, former Florida newspaper editor, email conversation. Nov. 14, 2006.

8. Lisa Walker, executive director, Education Writers Association, telephone interview, Nov. 20, 2006. Education Writers Association. www.ewa.org. See web site for compilation of award-winning education coverage.

9. “Dallas at the Tipping Point.” The Dallas Morning News 2004 series on rebuilding South Dallas. http://www.dallasnews.com/s/dws/spe/2005/tippingpoint/tpmain.html

10.“Fixing High Schools” The Oregonian 2004 series about high school reform. http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf?/education/fixingschools.frame

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: December 04, 2006
http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentId=12862

Monday, January 29, 2007

Just how well have charter schools worked?

Web Posted: 01/28/2007 02:13 AM CST

Jeanne Russell and Jenny LaCoste-Caputo
Express-News
Last year, the School of Science and Technology, a college-prep charter school, was alone among San Antonio middle schools when it earned the top rating of exemplary in the Texas public school accountability system.
Under a less rigorous, alternative assessment system, the San Antonio campus of the Eagle Academy charter chain repeatedly earned the rating of unacceptable and, in recent years, averted closure through a settlement with the Texas Education Agency.

Ten years into the charter school movement, the Texas experiment, like those under way around the country, is a confusing mix of extremes, and hardly the transformative educational experience reformers predicted.

About 60 percent of the state's 313 charter campuses are performing well enough, say observers such as Jonas Chartock, CEO of the Charter School Policy Institute, an Austin-based think tank that supports the charter movement. At either end are the successes, like the School of Science and Technology, which represent about 20 percent of the total, and struggling campuses like San Antonio's Eagle Academy, which represent another roughly 20 percent.

Troubled schools continue to provide fodder for critics who say charters — independent schools free of many regulations and paid for with taxpayer money — are doing students and parents a disservice.

On the Web
For more information on Texas charter schools, including assessments of individual campuses, go to: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/aeis/
Among the critics are some of the charter movement's most vehement boosters, who fear that low-performing charters are jeopardizing the push for a taxpayer-funded alternative to traditional public schools. In Texas, these critics are moving for airtight regulation for the first time.

Express-News Multimedia

(Jerry Lara/Express-News)
Barbara Macumba, 13, works on her essay at the School of Science and Technology. Macumba took 4th place in the Computer & Math category of the Texas Science Fair with her "Efficient Keyboards" entry.

(Jerry Lara/Express-News)
Katherine Schlagal, 14, checks out her classmates during physical education class at the School of Science and Technology.
Slide Show: A look at charter schools

State Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, chairwoman of the Senate education committee, and Sen. Kyle Janek, R-Houston, plan to introduce legislation in the next few weeks that would automatically shut down charter schools rated academically unacceptable two years in a row and reward those that consistently do well. The Legislature has talked tough before, but Shapiro said she wants loopholes closed, and Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands, said he supports her efforts.

"What we've done over the years is granted a lot of charters in the hopes that they would all be good, but that hasn't been the case," Shapiro said. "We can't just turn away and hope that they'll be better. We need some standards. The good charters want this. They want high standards."

Charter schools were sold to taxpayers as an exit plan for students trapped in failing public schools. However, the bulk of research shows that students fare similarly in both settings, with the slight advantage going to traditional public schools, said Henry Levin, director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Columbia University's Teachers College.

Nor does the balance of research generally support the notion that bad public schools have improved in response to competition, though at least one Texas study reported improved performance in some urban districts.

"Certainly, if you go back 10 years, charter advocates were talking about revolutionary changes. That just hasn't happened. Anyone who makes that argument is smoking something," Levin said.

"Do they provide competition? The answers are still out," he continued. "Do they provide parents with meaningful choices? In some cases, yes."

Enforcing tougher rules


The nation's approximately 4,000 charter schools serve about 1 million children in 40 states and Washington, D.C. — less than 2 percent of the nation's 60 million schoolchildren. In Texas, 70,904 students, less than 2 percent of the state's 4.5 million children in public schools, attended charter schools last year. Of the $12.6 billion Texas spent to operate public schools, $536 million, or about 4 percent, went to charters. There is no reliable total available for how much U.S. taxpayers have spent so far on charters nationally, according to the National Center for Education Statistics in Washington.
Advocates say continued support for the still burgeoning charter experiment depends on results. Only by weeding out the weakest links can the movement succeed, they say.

"Probably in the range of 20 percent should be shut down altogether, either for chronic underperforming, not serving kids, or not having the ability to manage the books," said Chartock, who believes Texas has "some charter schools that are the best in the country."

In Texas, efforts to police charter schools have been spotty, at best. In 2001, House Bill 1 gave the Texas Education Agency the power to close a charter school after two low-performing years. However, closure was not automatic, and it remained difficult to revoke a school's charter, meaning the operator could open other campuses. Moreover, a change in the state's accountability system raised questions about how to count consecutive years.

Last year's school finance bill further tightened the rules.

Under the current rules, state education officials singled out low-performing charters, including four Eagle campuses, for possible closure. Following state pressure, Career Plus Learning Academy in San Antonio closed last year. The Lewisville-based Eagle chain, however, negotiated a settlement to keep its campuses open based on success elsewhere, though it did close two campuses and reopen them under new management.

Shapiro's proposed bill would make the closure of a charter school after two years on the academically unacceptable list automatic, removing intermediate steps that have slowed enforcement and helped spur courtroom battles. It would also set an absolute standard that a minimum of 25 percent of a school's students must pass the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills tests in reading and math. If a school misses that mark two years in a row, it would have to shut its doors.

"We'll set a standard and they need to meet that standard in order to maintain a charter," Shapiro said.

The bill would also reward the best charter schools — those ranked recognized or exemplary by the state two out of three years — with money for bricks and mortar.

Currently, Texas charters, some of which operate out of storefront rentals or warehouses, get the same amount of money per student as Texas public schools, but no money for facilities.

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, supports Shapiro's bill, but has reservations about rewarding charter schools with money for buildings.

"We have schools in Bexar County and in South Texas that need money for facilities," Van de Putte said. "I'm a little uncomfortable with providing money for facilities for charters when our districts are in need."

Ultimately, Van de Putte called the bill a "positive piece of legislation" and said the money for facilities won't hold up her vote, as long as lawmakers put enough aside for poor districts that need it. Charter advocates outside the Legislature hope this carrot and stick approach might allow the state's most successful charter brands, most of which are not in San Antonio, to expand rapidly.

Many of the 43 local charter schools cater to students at risk of dropping out. Last year, two local charter schools earned the state's top ratings; one closed, and most continued to lag traditional public schools on test scores.

Schools established for the toughest-to-educate students may never post stellar TAKS scores even though many are doing tremendous work, Eissler said.

"You have to look at the makeup of charter schools," he said. "Some of them have as their market kids that have just dropped out."

Such charter schools argue that many of their students come to them far behind grade level. The students may make incredible progress from one year to the next while still not passing the state's test.

Shapiro's spokeswoman, Jennifer Ransom Rice, said there has been discussion of adding a caveat to the proposed bill that would allow such schools to prove that students are making considerable progress, even if their TAKS scores are sub par, thus saving themselves from closure. Rice said even if that measure is added to the bill, however, it would likely be a one-time-only second chance.

Eissler, a former school board member who supports charter schools, said closer scrutiny of charters is long overdue. "They do some good things. They push the envelope in certain areas," he said. "But it's a matter of spotlighting. They've been operating under the radar until now."

A school on the edge


Eagle Academy leaders attribute last year's low rating to a portion of the accountability system that counts how many students graduate in four years. Because students often arrive at Eagle's San Antonio campus as juniors or seniors, yet lag several years in school, this can be a hard standard to meet, school leaders said.
About 15 percent of Texas charter schools, like Eagle, specifically appeal to students who have fallen behind in credits, according to an analysis by the Charter School Policy Institute. After appealing to TEA last year, arguing that one student had been erroneously counted, the school was upgraded to acceptable. Under the state's alternative assessment system, a school can win either a rating of academically acceptable or unacceptable. Under the standard accountability system, most Texas public schools can earn one of four ratings: exemplary, recognized, academically acceptable and academically unacceptable.

Principal Linda Eichman readily acknowledges that Eagle Academy, in a strip mall on Fredericksburg Road, was in disarray when she took over. After she physically cleaned up the school and gave more authority to teachers, things improved. Enrollment has almost doubled this year to about 250 students. In the days leading up to the holiday break, some classes bulged at close to 40, a number Eichman sought to reduce by adding teachers.

She is concerned that more stringent oversight, like the kind Shapiro is proposing, could disproportionately hurt schools like the Eagle Academy, which reaches out to kids who are far behind.

"What bothers me is when you get a school like this one, which is a really good school, we're getting a bad rap all based on TAKS," she said. "If you shut down the ones that are not making progress, where are those kids going to go?"

Students sometimes sleep in class, and many listen to music as they complete worksheets or work on the computer, but the halls are orderly and teachers remain focused on whether they can complete the assignments necessary for credit in a particular class.

"We've gotten a reputation that we do work with kids here and that we care," Eichman said.

In 1998, the state of Texas granted the Eagle Academies of Texas chain charters to open 15 schools across the state, making it the state's largest chain of charter schools. The chain has weathered poor test scores, a critical state audit, and news reports challenging its payments to the for-profit Planagement Group, a management group with close ties to Eagle founders. Though it closed three campuses, the chain has grown overall, with 16 campuses across the state.

In recent years, the chain has severed its ties with Planagement, boosted its test scores, hired more credentialed teachers and principals, and adopted a new math curriculum. Eichman, who formerly worked for the TEA's office of school improvement, said she took the job because she believed the parent company was committed to cleaning up the school. She also felt as though the teachers, most of whom come through alternative certification programs, were dedicated to troubled youth.

"The question I asked was: 'How many teachers are staying?'" she said. "The answer was: 'All but one.'"

Eagle students, many of whom are behind in coursework or have lost credits due to absences, pursue credits by working individually or in small groups. Teachers monitor rather than lecture, and students are not grouped by subject but loosely organized by grade level, or their nearness to graduation. Students aren't penalized if they arrive late; they typically stay for about four hours, and the school works to accommodate their schedules. It offers limited electives and no physical education or sports.

That works for Kristal Treviño, 18, Amanda Castañeda, 17, and Genita Zertuche, 18. The girls have made it to Mario Rodriguez's room, a sought-after spot, as it signals they have completed nearly all graduation requirements. All three girls are studying to pass the science exit exam, and all three describe frustrations with large schools that made it hard to clear the bureaucratic hurdles needed to catch up after missing school.

Castañeda missed school for the first time her sophomore year, when she had an appendectomy. Then she lost ground when she traveled to South Carolina because her father died.

Treviño fell behind after giving birth to a daughter her junior year, and though wanting to stay in school, accumulated absences when her daughter was sick.

"I don't think I would be in school at all," she said. "I think it's better for me to be with my daughter when she's sick. I probably would have stayed home, just for a year."

Zertuche, an epileptic, fell behind after a bad seizure, and felt like her school wouldn't accommodate her short need to use a wheelchair.

"Public schools do everything they can within their means," Eichman said. "The larger high schools could not possibly reach this group of kids."

A modern charter


The Eagle Academy couldn't feel more different from the School of Science and Technology, a small, college-focused middle school, which attracted students from some of the area's top schools when it opened in 2005.
In a sixth-grade science class at the school, located off Loop 410, groups of two and three students huddle around beakers and timers as they test how the temperature of water affects the speed at which Alka Seltzer dissolves.

"My parents didn't want me to go to a (traditional) public school," said Orlando Benesh, 11. "They liked this school because it was small."

Aseem Panwar, 11, said he was attracted to the school's science focus because he hopes, one day, to be an astronaut.

"All of my friends wanted to come here," he added.

Parents offered similar reasons for choosing the school, citing its narrow academic focus and small size — about 330 students compared with 886 at Garner Middle School in the North East Independent School District, the nearest traditional public middle school.

"There were two things I liked," said Jaime Jurado, parent of a seventh-grader. "The desire for academic excellence, and the uniforms and character education."

The school is loosely affiliated with the Houston-based chain of Harmony Schools, which also focuses on science education and opened an elementary campus in San Antonio this year. Principal Mark Namver came from Harmony's Austin campus, and has relied on Harmony for teacher training and some materials.

It opened with sixth through eighth grades and added ninth grade this year, and about 160 of last year's 210 students returned.

"We don't have only smart kids here," Namver said, attributing the school's exceptional test scores in its first year to "hard work, individual attention and the school atmosphere."

Aside from its size and the fact that it is in a former furniture store, the School of Science and Technology feels like a traditional school, with a smattering of unique offerings such as the required character education classes, a Turkish language elective and an emphasis on its annual science fair. The school offers physical education but does not field competitive sports teams. In return, though, students gain a sense of intimacy. Teachers here, for example, open the school on weekends for students to prepare for the science fair, and do at least one home visit a year, said Assistant Principal Bulent Dogan.

"They (parents) say: 'For the first time in my life, a teacher is coming to visit my child in my home,'" Dogan said.

Like the School of Science and Technology, the state's most effective charter schools, a group that includes Harmony, the KIPP schools, the Houston-based YES Prep and the Rio Grande Valley-based IDEA Academy, are all small, college-preparatory schools.

What makes these schools successful, observers say, is an intense focus on college, and in many cases extended days, extended years and contracts and close relationships with parents. Many, though not the School of Science and Technology, which serves only 40 percent low-income students, have gained national attention because they have dramatically narrowed the gap between haves and have-nots.

The college-prep schools differ from schools like Eagle in that they demand much from parents and students, and are unlikely to draw a student like Treviño, who has fallen behind and is raising a child. It's the high-performing college-prep schools targeting low-income kids that Chartock hopes might grow to serve 10 percent of the state's children.

Paul Kelleher, chairman of the Trinity University department of education, is skeptical. The high-profile charter successes may attract a special type of parent and student, making them hard to replicate, Kelleher said, adding that charters may offer the greatest value as laboratories for new ideas.

"It seems to be that charters are a niche," he said, "maybe an important one."


jeanner@express-news.net

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/metro/stories/MYSA012807.01A.charters_mature.1bee008.html

Newspaper Clips on Dropout Conference at Texas Leg. last week

The story hit in 29 papers across the state! -Angela 

More voice concerns about tax rebate idea
(San Antonio Express-News © 01/29/2007) (Registration Required)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 3:45AM (Article ID 139377157)

education as top priorities. A lot of those competing needs are left unmet because Texas is one of the lowest-taxing states in the union, said F. Scott McCown of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a group that advocates for programs for lower-income people. "For example, recent deaths have shown (Child Protective Services)


Payday loan worth price you pay?
(Lubbock Avalanche-Journal © 01/29/2007)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 3:25AM (Article ID 139372072)

ans per year - and exorbitant interest rates (often higher than 500 percent APR), payday lending products drain more than $280 million in earnings from Texas workers each year, warns the non-partisan Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin. Moreover, the CPPP adds, repeated and indiscriminate borrowing pitch many payday loan customers into an endless cycle of debt. Across the country,


Rebates not seen as a top priority
(Houston Chronicle © 01/29/2007) (Registration Required)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 7:30AM (Article ID 139393052)

me look at all the competing needs," she said. Opposing viewsA lot of those competing needs are left unmet, since Texas is one of the lowest-taxing states in the union, said F. Scott McCown of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a group that advocates programs for lower-income people. "For example, recent deaths have shown (Child Protective Services) caseworkers must watch over far m


Dropout problem plagues state
(Corpus Christi Caller-Times © 01/29/2007) (Registration Required)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 4:39AM (Article ID 139383207)

ice. Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the past 20 years represent $730 billion in lost re


Dropout rate a crisis for state, experts say
(Houston Chronicle © 01/29/2007) (Registration Required)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 7:30AM (Article ID 139393053)

rt is needed. "I want to focus on programs at your high-risk schools," he said. "How do we keep those at-risk kids in school? We'll be looking at that this session. This is a priority of mine." Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count an effort to track the status of children ticked off myriad ways people with high school diplomas fare better in life than those without. While it w


Experts, lawmakers struggle with high school dropouts in Texas
(Abilene Reporter-News © 01/29/2007) (Registration Required)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 5:10AM (Article ID 139388042)

Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost


Experts, lawmakers struggle with high school dropouts in Texas
(Amarillo Globe-News © 01/29/2007)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 2:49AM (Article ID 139371796)

her at Rice. Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost revenu


Experts, lawmakers struggle with high school dropouts in Texas
(Austin American-Statesman © 01/29/2007) (Registration Required)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 3:25AM (Article ID 139372652)

at Rice. Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost reve


Experts, lawmakers struggle with high school dropouts in Texas
(Brazoria County Facts © 01/29/2007)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 3:25AM (Article ID 139371991)

at Rice. Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost reve


Experts, lawmakers struggle with high school dropouts in Texas
(Corpus Christi KRIS (NBC) 6 © 01/29/2007)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 2:49AM (Article ID 139356332)

at Rice. Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost reve


Experts, lawmakers struggle with high school dropouts in Texas
(Denton Record-Chronicle © 01/29/2007)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 2:49AM (Article ID 139353742)

Rice. Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost rev


Experts, lawmakers struggle with high school dropouts in Texas
(El Paso Times © 01/29/2007)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 2:49AM (Article ID 139364458)

rcher at Rice. Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost revenue


Experts, lawmakers struggle with high school dropouts in Texas
(Fort Worth Star-Telegram © 01/29/2007) (Registration Required)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 2:49AM (Article ID 139353600)

Rice. Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost rev


Experts, lawmakers struggle with high school dropouts in Texas
(Ft. Worth KTVT (CBS) 11 © 01/29/2007)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 2:49AM (Article ID 139353590)

Rice. Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost rev


Experts, lawmakers struggle with high school dropouts in Texas
(Galveston Daily News © 01/29/2007)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 3:25AM (Article ID 139372259)

at Rice. Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost reve


Experts, lawmakers struggle with high school dropouts in Texas
(Longview News © 01/29/2007)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 2:49AM (Article ID 139354091)

ice. Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost re


Experts, lawmakers struggle with high school dropouts in Texas
(Lufkin Daily News © 01/29/2007)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 2:49AM (Article ID 139354046)

ice. Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost re


Experts, lawmakers struggle with high school dropouts in Texas
(Marshal News Messenger © 01/29/2007)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 2:49AM (Article ID 139354066)

ice. Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost re


Experts, lawmakers struggle with high school dropouts in Texas
(Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel © 01/29/2007)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 2:49AM (Article ID 139354141)

ice. Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost re


Experts, lawmakers struggle with high school dropouts in Texas
(New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung © 01/29/2007)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 2:49AM (Article ID 139364684)

rcher at Rice. Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost revenue


Experts, lawmakers struggle with high school dropouts in Texas
(San Antonio Express-News © 01/29/2007) (Registration Required)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 2:49AM (Article ID 139354378)

Rice. Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost rev


Experts, Lawmakers Struggle with High School Dropouts in Texas
(San Antonio WOAI (NBC) © 01/29/2007)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 2:49AM (Article ID 139360465)

ice. Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost re


Experts, lawmakers struggle with high school dropouts in Texas
(Waco Tribune-Herald © 01/29/2007)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 2:49AM (Article ID 139354289)

ice. Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost re


Experts, lawmakers struggle with high school dropouts in Texas
(Wichita Times Record © 01/29/2007)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 3:25AM (Article ID 139372166)

Rice. Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost rev


LAWMAKERS TACKLING HIGH DROPOUT RATE
(Tyler Morning Telegraph © 01/29/2007)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 3:45AM (Article ID 139377218)

at Rice. Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost reve


One In Three Texas Students Doesn't Graduate
(Houston KPRC (NBC) 2 © 01/29/2007)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 2:49AM (Article ID 139354002)

Rice. Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost rev


One-third of students in Texas don't graduate
(Houston Chronicle © 01/29/2007) (Registration Required)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 7:02AM (Article ID 139356006)

at Rice. Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost reve


Texas high school dropout rate high
(Lubbock Avalanche-Journal © 01/29/2007)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 3:25AM (Article ID 139372104)

Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost reve


Texas high school dropout rate high
(Lubbock KJTV (FOX) 34 © 01/29/2007)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 3:25AM (Article ID 139372389)

Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost reve


Texas stuggles with dropout 'crisis'
(Dallas Morning News © 01/29/2007) (Registration Required)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 2:49AM (Article ID 139360225)

ikely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $


Texas stuggles with dropout 'crisis'
(Dallas WFAA (ABC) 8 © 01/29/2007)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 2:49AM (Article ID 139360224)

ikely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $


Texas stuggles with dropout 'crisis'
(Denton Record-Chronicle © 01/29/2007)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 2:49AM (Article ID 139360191)

ikely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said. Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages. The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $


More voice concerns about tax rebate idea
(San Antonio Express-News © 01/29/2007) (Registration Required)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 3:45AM (Article ID 139377157)

services and higher education as top priorities. A lot of those competing needs are left unmet because Texas is one of the lowest-taxing states in the union, said F. Scott McCown of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a group that advocates for programs for lower-income people. "For example, recent deaths have shown (Chi


Rebates not seen as a top priority
(Houston Chronicle © 01/29/2007) (Registration Required)
Indexed Jan 29 2007 7:30AM (Article ID 139393052)

, and at the same time look at all the competing needs," she said. Opposing viewsA lot of those competing needs are left unmet, since Texas is one of the lowest-taxing states in the union, said F. Scott McCown of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a group that advocates programs for lower-income people. "For example, recent deaths have shown (Child Protective Services) caseworkers m


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Tracking OrgID 19165

Dropout rate a crisis for state, experts say

In another post, I'll list the newspapers that covered the dropout conference at the capitol last week.

Angela


Jan. 29, 2007, 11:32AM

Dropout rate a crisis for state, experts say
Some estimates show half of all students in urban high schools quit

By GARY SCHARRER
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau


Texas schools lose one student every four minutes. Other data:

25 - 35% of Texas students leave school

50% of students in urban areas drop out

50% of Texas dropouts are black or Hispanic

76% HISD graduation rate for the class of 2005

Source: Texas Public School Attrition Study for 2005-2006 by the Intercultural Development Research Association; Houston Independent School District; Rice University's Center for Education

AUSTIN — At least half of all high school students in the state's urban school districts are dropping out of school, creating a crisis that state leaders are not doing enough to address, some education experts say.

Statewide, each graduating class has at least 120,000 fewer students than started high school, with more than 2.5 million students dropping out during the past 20 years, according to the San Antonio-based Intercultural Development Research Center.

"We really need to raise the alarm on dropouts. The general public thinks that, maybe, there's about a 5 percent dropout rate in Texas — maybe a 20 percent dropout rate in the worst urban schools," said Robert Sanborn, president and chief executive of Houston-based Children At Risk, a research and advocacy group for youths.

Researchers generally agree that Texas' statewide dropout rate hovers around 33 percent, which is about 20 points higher than official statistics compiled by the Texas Education Agency.

The dropout rate is highest for blacks, Hispanics and low-income students — currently about 60 percent, said Eileen Coppola, a researcher at Rice University's Center for Education. "In our major urban districts, we can safely say that it's 50 percent."

"If you live in a city like Dallas or Houston, and half of your kids are not finishing high school, it's a social crisis, because we know that those kids will likely live in poverty, be much more likely to go to jail, and they will have more health problems," Coppola said.


Houston's numbers

The Houston Independent School District reported a 76 percent graduation rate for the class of 2005. The graduation rate is the percentage of freshmen who start high school and finish four years later.
HISD spokesman Terry Abbott has said the district follows state guidelines for reporting its rates, but district officials also have said that the percentage of students who wind up getting a diploma could be as low as 60 percent because some don't even begin high school.

State leaders and lawmakers for years have acknowledged the dropout problem, but critics complain that few resources have been invested to fix it.

"Today is like Groundhog Day. Here we are again. We're going to beat this dead horse one more time, redefine the problem — and then what? I'm not really sure," Rep. Rick Noriega, D-Houston, said during a legislative briefing on the issue last week.

State leaders are aware of the high numbers but focus most of their attention on property tax cuts and other issues, Noriega and others said.

"A consistent dropout rate of 30 to 40 percent becomes, in effect, the state's de facto public policy," Noriega said.

"If our graduation rates in the state are 60 percent, that's our public policy as a state," he said. "We as Texans accept that graduation rate, apparently. That's what we do because that's what it is.

"Public policy is not what we say it is. It's not what is written. It's what's actual," he said.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst strongly disagrees with assertions that state leaders aren't doing enough to reduce dropout rates.

But he agrees dropout rates in some urban and border school districts run as high as 60 percent.

"We have a huge problem," he said.


Prevention initiatives

That's why he and Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, insisted last year on giving all school districts $275 per high school student for dropout-prevention and college-readiness programs.
But the so-called High School Allotment Program is "not targeted for communities with the greatest need," said Albert Cortez, a director at the Intercultural Development and Research Association.

Dewhurst said he agrees that a more targeted effort is needed.

"I want to focus on programs at your high-risk schools," he said. "How do we keep those at-risk kids in school? We'll be looking at that this session. This is a priority of mine."

Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count — an effort to track the status of children — ticked off myriad ways people with high school diplomas fare better in life than those without.

While it would cost at least $1.7 billion to keep those dropouts in four years of school, she said, the long-term costs for society are much more staggering.

"The 2.5 million students, twice the population of San Antonio, who have dropped out of school in the past 20 years represent $730 billion in lost revenue and costs for the state of Texas," she said, citing an Intercultural Development Research Association report.

Sanborn from Children At Risk said, "There's no defense — period — in terms of how we are allowing these many kids to drop out of school."

If the current trend line is not altered, average household incomes in Texas will decline, according to State Demographer Steve Murdock.

"It's easy to point figures and accuse state leaders of negligence," Shapiro said. "I am open to suggestions all day long. This is a huge public policy issue for me, and I want to make a difference."

Like Dewhurst, Shapiro believes the state's dropout problem is much higher than statistics compiled by the TEA.

Agency officials said they are addressing the concern that the numbers could be low.

"We're working aggressively on many fronts to address the dropout problem," TEA spokeswoman Debbie Ratcliffe said. "We are changing the definition of a dropout, as we were directed to do by the Texas Legislature, and that will increase the official Texas dropout number."

The agency has implemented programs at both the secondary and elementary school levels designed to help students become more successful so they don't consider dropping out, she said.

gscharrer@express-news.net

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/4506492.html

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Bush Proposes Adding Private School Vouchers to 'No Child' Law

Bush Proposes Adding Private School Vouchers to 'No Child' Law
By Amit R. Paley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 25, 2007; A16

The Bush administration yesterday unveiled an education plan that would allow poor students at chronically failing public schools to use federal vouchers to attend private and religious schools, angering Democrats who vowed to fight the measure.

The private school vouchers, which on average would be worth $4,000, were among a series of proposals presented yesterday that President Bush hopes will be included in the reauthorization of his signature education initiative, No Child Left Behind.

In a conference call with reporters, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said the initiatives were necessary to help students in the nation's 1,800 most persistently under-performing schools.

"How do we answer the question: What do we do for kids trapped in schools that continue to under-perform?" she said. "Is the promise of No Child Left Behind real?"

Democrats in Congress assailed the plan -- which also would allow low-performing schools to override union contracts or become charter schools despite state laws limiting their creation -- and expressed concern that the politically charged proposals could delay the reauthorization, which is scheduled for this year.

"Ideological proposals like private school vouchers and attacks on collective-bargaining agreements won't help this reauthorization move forward on shared, bipartisan goals," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

The plan also includes measures that enjoy bipartisan support. It addresses one of the most persistent criticisms of No Child Left Behind: that schools that meet state testing goals overall but fail in a small category must provide all students in the school with free tutoring or the option to transfer to another school. Under the president's proposal, only students in the categories that failed would receive those options.

The initiative also would hold schools accountable for test scores in science starting in 2008 (the current program holds schools accountable only in reading and math). It also would for the first time require states to publicize their performance on a national test that states are already required to administer.

Reg Weaver, president of the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers union, attacked the administration's proposal to allow some school administrators to override labor contracts to push out bad teachers and attract better ones.

"The No Child Left Behind law was designed to close the achievement gap, not to strip collective-bargaining agreements," he said.

The president's plan also would allow mayors to take over chronically failing schools and for those schools to transform themselves into charter schools, even if that would violate a state law capping the number of charter schools.

It was the private school voucher proposal, modeled on a plan implemented in the District in 2004, that seemed to anger some Democrats. The program in the Distict provides $7,500 vouchers, known in the administration as scholarships, to about 1,800 students, from kindergartners to high school seniors, attending 58 private schools.

"We have seen that the sky doesn't fall when kids go to private schools with public money," said Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform, who was briefed on the plan in advance by White House staff. "So school choice is not nearly as scary as some congressmen have led us to believe."

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, called the voucher proposal a "bad idea" that was unlikely to gain traction in Congress. "Private school vouchers, which would divert taxpayer dollars away from public schools that need them, have been rejected in the past and nothing has changed to make them acceptable now," he said in a statement.

Spellings insisted that the administration will try to push through even those proposals likely to face stiff resistance in Congress. "I plan to fight hard for the whole kit and caboodle," she said.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/24/AR2007012401982.html

Monday, January 22, 2007

"For America's Sake" by Bill Moyers

This is one of the more stirring, inspirational pieces of writing that I've read in a long time. It's by Bill Moyers who eloquently articulates what our heart and soul is as a nation.

Moyers critiques the neo-liberal notion of freedom as reducible to a private value. He says that we basically need to rescue the concept of freedom from the right wing which has distorted it for its own narrow, economistic purposes. Freedom, Moyers, explains is essentially a social idea, which explains why the worship for the free market “fails as a compelling idea in terms of the moral reasoning of freedom itself.”

Moreover, we as a nation have a long ennobling history—however flawed by horrible and challeging contradictions like slavery, racism, exclusionary processes, etc.—that equates freedom to social justice.

A must-read. Thank you, Bill! Yes, you should run for president! -Angela


http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070122/moyers

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Educators feeling left behind

This piece lays out the view that federal law punishes diversity, meaning that high-poverty and high-minority districts where many children are ill-prepared for school, lack family support, and schools are under-funded are especially negatively impacted by the law's demands that all students perform at grade level in reading and math by 2014. ELL & special education youth are other concerns. -Angela

Educators feeling left behind
Changes requested on 5th anniversary of 'No Child' statute


Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Angela Townsend
Plain Dealer Reporter
While the Bush administration touted the merits of No Child Left Behind on its fifth anniversary Monday, national and local educators called for changes in what they say is a flawed law.

No Child Left Behind won bipartisan backing when Congress passed it in 2002, and it's up for renewal this year.

The main goal is to have all students perform at grade level in reading and math by 2014.

That's admirable, educators say, but difficult to accomplish when financial constraints, uneven interpretations and an overemphasis on testing come with the package.

"There are too many people and too many school systems that are labeled as failing," National Education Association President Reg Weaver said Monday.

Instead of widespread sanctions, "let's figure out what's wrong and how we can help these people."

Schools that get federal aid but do not make enough progress must provide tutoring, allow students to transfer or initiate other reforms such as changing the staff.

The law's financial impact has been hard to quantify, but the cost includes teacher training, new textbooks and additional staffing. High-poverty districts like Cleveland, where many children are ill-prepared for school and lack family support, are especially challenged by the law's demands.

"Given the right resources, all problems can be adequately addressed," Cleveland schools CEO Eugene Sanders said. "But to expect a level of achievement to occur given that level of inequity. . . ?

"They basically say to you, 'Make it work,' but they don't give you the resources needed to make it work."

In a meeting on Monday with congressional leaders, President Bush pushed for the law's reauthorization but was noncommittal on their request for more money to help schools meet its requirements.

Paul Yocum, superintendent of the Cardinal district in Geauga County, echoed Sanders' complaints about the lack of money.

"We're not against upping the standards for our students," he said. "But when we're in a time of financial difficulty . . . it falls back on property owners - our voters."

Rick Buckosh, superintendent of the Clearview schools in Lorain County, said he has had to add remediation courses - not an easy thing to do when the district is laying off teachers.

Under No Child Left Behind, some veteran teachers are being told that they are not "highly qualified" to do their jobs.

Karen Vince, a special-education intervention specialist at Nordonia High School in Summit County, is one of 400 educators whose comments are included in a new NEA publication about the law.

"I've taught for 33 years, the majority of that in special education," said Vince, who this year has a class of 13 cognitively disabled students.

But holding the right license wasn't enough under the federal law. Two years ago, Vince's district sent her to four weeks of summer classes and one weekend workshop for coursework that transformed her into "highly qualified."

What did she learn?

"Basically, how to use the content standards book and some skills that are not applicable to what I teach," she said. "I had to take algebra . . . and I'm teaching my kids how to tell time."

Lawmakers outlined more concerns for U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings during Monday's meeting. They included: how to test special education and limited-English-speaking students; a desire to give schools credit for progress even when they fall short of annual targets; and the need to give students access to high-quality free tutoring.

Patti Picard, curriculum director for Hudson schools in Summit County, sees value in the law's clear standards, which have helped school districts set academic priorities, she said.

At the same time, such a strong emphasis on standardized testing is disconcerting, she added.

"When something like No Child Left Behind focuses so closely on a test score, it does affect the kind of teaching that you do," Picard said. "It becomes kind of a forced march."

She hopes legislators listen to the people who best know the challenges of teaching youngsters. Otherwise, she said, "I'm afraid that we're going to create a culture of people who have lost their zest for love of learning."

Information from the Associated Press was included in this story.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:
atownsend@plaind.com, 216-999-3894

© 2007 The Plain Dealer© 2007 cleveland.com All Rights Reserved.
http://www.cleveland.com/education/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/cuyahoga/116833546448420.xml&coll=2

Saturday, January 13, 2007

More children learn more than one language

More children learn more than one language
1/10/2007 8:06 AM ET

By Beth Walton, USA TODAY

Azure Warrenfeltz is fluent in Japanese and Spanish. She also can understand bits of French, German, Arabic and Italian, and she soon hopes to learn some Mandarin Chinese.
Azure is 4 years old.

"I'm smarter than my father. He can only speak one language. Muchas gracias!" she says playfully.

In today's globalized world, Azure is one of many young American children whose parents insist her education include foreign languages.

"It's such a global environment now, you never know what you might need," says Azure's mother, Julie Warrenfeltz, who started schooling her daughter in foreign languages when she was 6 weeks old. "I wanted to make sure she had every tool and every benefit at her disposal.

"She couldn't hold a violin, she couldn't stand upright, but I wanted her to do something," says Warrenfeltz, owner of Petite Ambassadors Language School in Jacksonville.

Not only is learning a foreign language easier for children than it is for adults, but children who are exposed to other languages also do better in school, score higher on standardized tests, are better problem solvers and are more open to diversity, says François Thibaut, who runs The Language Workshop for Children, which has nine schools around the East Coast. Thibaut is a pioneer in foreign languages for babies and children and is the author of Professor Toto, an award-winning home-based foreign-language curriculum for parents and children.

"When I started 35 years ago, very few people believed in this idea. Teaching kids who are 6 months seemed crazy," Thibaut says.

Today, Thibaut says, his schools can't keep up with the demand for classes; about 1,000 students are enrolled and even more are on waiting lists. The schools even get requests from expectant parents wanting to reserve a space for when their child is born, he says.

The schools serve students 6 months to 9 years old and offer courses in Spanish, French, Italian and, new this year, Chinese, which Thibaut says is becoming the most requested class.

"More and more people are aware of the importance of teaching another language to their child because we are in a global world," he says.

Language study for children is based on immersion, he says. Kids sing songs and play games to help develop language comprehension skills. "This is a natural way of learning language."

When children start learning languages at birth, they have the capacity to learn many languages at once without getting confused — because, as the brain develops, so too does the ability to separate one language from another.

Warrenfeltz says that sometimes when Azure was younger, she would mix up vocabulary words, using the shortest word no matter what the language. But by age 3, everything fell into place.

The word for "elephant" was too long and hard to pronounce in English, so at age 2, Azure would just say Zo, the Japanese word for the animal.

"It was clear to her what the objects were, but it was just so hard to enunciate, she would just pick the words that were the easiest," Warrenfeltz says.

Warrenfeltz's school takes students as young as 6 weeks in a course called Baby Boot Camp, which combines foreign language with strength training, balance and coordination exercises. She, too, has seen the demand for language classes grow in the past few years.

One of the reasons Anna Lynn and Stephan Oppenheimer of New York enrolled their daughter, Mireille, in Thibaut's language classes when she was 6 months old was to help her understand diversity and learn how to see things from different perspectives. They also hoped the language lessons would help their daughter appreciate her heritage; her grandmother is French.

"We both believe that could be a great gift to give our child," Anna Lynn says. "As Americans, we don't typically study other languages, and that can make us narrower in our perspective."

Warrenfeltz's two younger children, Indigo, 2, and Raymond, 1, also are learning foreign languages.

"It's amazing; you never know what is going to come out of their mouths," she says. "You'll see them walking down the road counting in Chinese or pointing to things in Arabic.

"I would hope that they would become ambassadors to Japan and all those wonderful things," but whatever Azure decides to do, languages will be an asset, Warrenfeltz says. "I'm just providing an opportunity so they can do whatever they want, wherever they want. They won't be bound by language."


http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2007-01-09-language-children_x.htm

International Baccalaureate puts participants on college fast track

Jan. 4, 2007, 10:17AM
Extra effort in classroom pays off
International Baccalaureate puts participants on college fast track

By ERICKA MELLON
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

On many Saturday afternoons, Harrison Collie, a varsity baseball player at Houston's Lamar High School, turns down invitations to work out, play ball or grab lunch with friends.

The 17-year-old plans to graduate in May with the prestigious International Baccalaureate diploma. And that means he has spent countless weekends at home, reading novels and writing essays (he recently compared, in his words, "the portrayal of the heroic figure" in Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn and Russell Banks' Rule of the Bone).

A senior, Collie has applied to several elite colleges out of state, as well as the University of Texas at Austin.

If he ends up at UT, or at any other Texas public school, he'll get an extra perk — thanks to a new law that rewards high school students for taking rigorous courses.

"I used to have kids ask me all the time, 'Why am I doing all this? Why am I banging my head against the wall? What's in it for me?' " said Jon Mallam, who has coordinated the IB program at Lamar High School for seven years. "So now, there is an incentive for them."


Debuted last year

Last year's batch of seniors was the first in Texas to benefit from the law, which requires public colleges to grant entering freshmen at least 24 semester credit hours if they complete the IB diploma program and score well on the related tests. The hours would boost most of them to near-sophomore status.
The law has helped standardize, and in some cases elevate, the number of credits colleges award IB graduates, according to Karen Phillips, executive director of the nonprofit Texas IB Schools, which pushed the legislation.

Under pressure to better prepare students for college, a growing number of U.S. schools and states are embracing the IB program, with its global standards, community-service mandate and near-rejection of multiple-choice exams.

Texas has 40 elementary, middle and high schools with the IB program — compared with about half that many five years ago, Phillips said. Worldwide, IB has authorized more than 1,900 schools, each of which survived a stringent application process that took about two years.


Lamar leads state

Lamar, in the Houston Independent School District, had 66 students graduate with an IB diploma in the Class of 2006 — the most in the state, according to Mallam. They were honored at a ceremony Tuesday at the Westin Galleria Houston.
"I'm still waiting for that magic day when we have 100 kids who get that IB diploma, and I don't think that's too far off in the future," Mallam said.

Not all the Lamar graduates go on to public colleges in Texas, but Florida and Colorado have similar credit-granting laws, and other states are considering them, said Bob Poole, of IB North America.

Southern Methodist University claims to be one of the country's first colleges to begin a comprehensive scholarship program for IB diploma recipients. Students can receive $4,000 to $12,000 a year based on their test scores.

"We've always encouraged our applicants to really challenge themselves as far as their coursework in high school. And (IB) is a program that really steps up the caliber of the high school curriculum," said Joseph Davis, an admissions counselor at SMU.

"I feel like I'm more prepared for college than I would be with any other program," said Asasia Carter, another IB-diploma candidate at Lamar.


Support for both

The IB program and the College Board's Advanced Placement program are often mentioned in the same breath by those promoting readiness for college.
President Bush, through his American Competitiveness Initiative, has expressed support for both. He has proposed spending $122 million to increase the number of math and science AP and IB tests taken and passed by low-income students.

Representatives of each program insist they aren't in competition. Students can earn college credit for passing both groups' tests, though IB requires extra work, including community service and a research paper, if students want the full diploma.

Of Houston ISD's 300 or so schools, only six offer the IB program: Bellaire and Lamar high schools; Lanier Middle School; and River Oaks, Roberts and Twain elementary schools.

Some elementary schools in HISD's central region also are mulling over the idea of applying, according to district spokeswoman Lisa Bunse.

Klein and Spring Branch each have one high school with the IB curriculum.

Linda Garner, who coordinates Klein's program, said the state law mandating college credit came just in time to help her students save money on tuition. She advises seniors to seek out visiting college recruiters whose schools offer extra perks to IB graduates.

"I told them, when you go to college night, you ask them, 'What do you do for IB students?' And if they don't do much for IB students, then you walk away and go to someone that does."

ericka.mellon@chron.com

ATPE Survey Shows Deep Dissatisfaction Over TAKS

According to the Quorum Report, ATPE parents and teacher prefer Multiple Criteria. Might they mean State Rep. Dora Olivo's bills.-Angela

Legislative Update
1-12-07 ATPE releases TAKS study

ATPE held a press conference at the Texas State Capitol Thursday to release the findings of a study commissioned by ATPE that examines the perceptions of teachers and parents regarding the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test.

The key findings of the study are:

• The TAKS does not provide an accurate assessment of a student’s academic level.
• The TAKS has resulted in a narrowing of the curriculum.
• Teachers are being forced to teach to the test rather than to the broader curriculum.
• The TAKS creates undue anxiety and stress on students, especially at the elementary-school level.

The study also includes ATPE’s recommendations for devising a system that reduces the high-stakes nature of the current accountability system and allows teachers to diagnose students’ knowledge base and that assesses their ability to acquire and apply learning through formative assessments and demonstrate skills and knowledge on a summative assessment.

Even before the session began Jan. 9, there was discussion among education and legislative circles regarding the need to revise the current accountability system. ATPE will work to encourage the Legislature to include meaningful input from educators when making decisions on this issue.

For more information, contact ATPE Governmental Relations.

Comment on Burka's TX MONTHLY analysis of the Latino Vote

Below is UT Arlington Professor Roberto Calderon’s analysis (in Spanish) --"Futuro latino esta aquí" [meaning, "The Future of Latinos is Here"] that suggests strongly that Burka would do well to not limit his analysis to South Texas and to consider north Texas. You can’t fully understand the Latino vote in Texas with a focus on South Texas. Geoeconomic and geopolitical trends that link Mexico and the U.S. at the “belly button,” as Calderon states, also need to be taken into consideration. Also as the recent massive mobilizations suggest and the electoral ousting of Republican candidates, north Texas—Dallas, in particular— is where a whole lot of the action is.

Burka’s "cultural analysis" regarding low voter turnout is also lacking if not antiquated and stereotypical. Widely researched crucial predictors of political participation across time and space—income, education, and age—merit mention.

I am aware that there is quite a bit of evidence which shows that Latino citizens vote similar to Anglos and African-Americans after taking sociodemographic factors into account (e.g., Campbell et al, 1960; Verba and Nie, 1972; Wolfinger and Rosenstone 1980) —although one study (Cassel 2002) found this to be especially to be true in presidential, rather than mid-term elections. Calvo and Rosenstone (1989) contradict all the other evidence, however, finding that even after taking into account social and demographic factors —at least with respect to the 1984 presidential elections—Latinos were less likely to vote.

The bulk of this research suggests, however, that Latinos are not apathetic and that they do vote at levels that are commensurate with their age and class background. Latinos’ relative youth as a population together lower levels of education and income is what impacts voter participation. Stated differently (politically), if you want to disenfranchise the Latino community, you under-educate or you mis-educate. There’s a lot to know here.
-Angela

References

Calvo, M. A. and S. J. Rosentone (1989). Hispanic Political Participation. San Antonio, TX: Southwest Voter Research Institute.

Campbell, A. P. Converse, W. Miller, and D. Stokes. (1960). THE AMERICAN VOTER, NY: Wiley.

Cassel, Carol A. (2002) Hispanic Turnout: Estimates from Validated Voting Data, Political Research Quarterly, Vol. 55, No. 2 (Jun., 2002), pp. 391-408

Verba, S. and N. H. Nie. (1972) Pparticipation in America: Political Democracy and Social Equality. Chicago: U of Chicago Press.


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http://www.texasmonthly.com/2007-01-01/btl.php?click_code=96f0d4eaad48345cb56a3cfefb7dbca2

Texas Monthly (January 2007)
BEHIND THE LINES

Minority Report
By Paul Burka

Argue all you want about the level of Hispanic turnout in the 2006 elections, but one thing is certain: Demographic inevitability alone won’t save the Democrats.

THE DAY OF RECKONING IS COMING. It could occur as soon as 2010, more likely by 2014, or perhaps as late as 2022, but nothing can prevent the moment when demographics takes over and the sleeping giant of Texas politics-the Hispanic vote-awakes at last and restores the Democratic party to its rightful hegemony.

Or at least that’s the dream. The stuff the dream is made of can be found in the projections of Texas’s population by state demographer Steve Murdock, at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Assuming that net immigration continues at the pace established in the last decade of the twentieth century, Hispanics will constitute 59.2 percent of the state’s population in 2040, Anglos but 23.9 percent. Long before then, Texas will be a Democratic stronghold again.

Or will it? Both the numbers and the anecdotal evidence suggest that Republicans are doing increasingly well with Hispanic voters here-so well, in fact, that the Democratic dream may be turning into a nightmare. This ought not to come as a surprise. The Hispanic population has become economically diverse. Even in South Texas, which lags behind the rest of the state economically, an upper middle class is emerging. But more than economics is involved. South Texas Democratic politics remains mired in the ways of the past-clan warfare, boss rule, and petty (and not-so-petty) corruption-and the Republican party has been the beneficiary.

The division of the Hispanic vote between the two major parties is one of the most crucial-and most disputed-statistics in Texas electoral politics. The William C. Velasquez Institute, in San Antonio, has long been regarded as the most authoritative source for how Hispanics are voting. But its exit polling of the recent gubernatorial race, based on 440 respondents in 32 selected precincts across the state, is simply not credible: Chris Bell, 39.5 percent; Carole Keeton Strayhorn, 28.6 percent; Kinky Friedman, 14.3 percent; and Rick Perry, 13.9 percent. Perry campaigned vigorously in South Texas. He had the support of eleven mayors (presumably Democratic, although the office is nonpartisan). Democratic sheriffs appeared in his TV ads on border security. A Dallas Morning News poll a few days before the election showed him getting 37 percent of the Hispanic vote. His actual performance in the big South Texas counties suggests that he did considerably better than the 13.9 percent in the Velasquez Institute’s exit poll. Perry got more votes in Cameron County than Bell did (the margin was only a few dozen votes, but he carried the county). He got approximately four thousand more votes than Bell in Nueces County. He lost Hidalgo County to Bell but still received 33.5 percent of the vote to Bell’s 42.67 percent. El Paso was even closer: Bell, 36.2 percent; Perry, 33.04 percent. Even in Webb County, Tony Sanchez’s home base, where Bell beat Perry by a two-to-one margin, Perry had 25 percent of the vote.

Granted, this is not a scientific analysis: There is no way to know how many Hispanics were represented in Perry’s total votes in these counties. But we do know from 2004 population estimates that Hispanics outnumber Anglos by approximately seven to one in Cameron County and by nine to one in Hidalgo County. To be competitive, Perry had to get a lot of Hispanic votes-a lot more than 13.9 percent.

The Velasquez Institute was not alone in doing exit polling in Texas. CNN and the Associated Press, among other national organizations, collaborated on far-more-extensive exit polling-2,090 respondents statewide. Their findings were considerably different from the Velasquez Institute’s: Bell, 41 percent; Perry, 31 percent; Strayhorn, 18 percent; and Friedman, 9 percent. What might account for the considerable variation? In 2004, when the Velasquez Institute gave George W. Bush a lower percentage of the Hispanic vote than most other polling organizations, critics suggested that the culprit might have been an unduly heavy reliance on inner-city precincts, which could have missed the move of upwardly mobile Hispanics to more-affluent areas, where, the theory goes, they are more likely to vote Republican.

Two questions emerge as crucial in the battle for the Hispanic vote in Texas: How do Hispanics vote, and why don’t they vote in greater numbers? Nationally, the increase in Hispanic voting is startling. The pollster John Zogby wrote recently that Hispanics constituted “5 percent of 95 million voters in 1996, 6 percent of 105 million voters in 2000, and 8.5 percent of 122 million voters in 2004.” Projecting to 2008, Zogby says, “With a highly competitive election and a heavy voter registration drive, we could be looking at an electorate that includes a Hispanic component amounting to 10 percent of 130 million voters.”

Imagine what might have happened in Texas had Hispanic participation grown by 65 percent over the past three election cycles. But it hasn’t. Mike Baselice, a well-regarded Republican pollster, says that the portion of the voting electorate that is Hispanic increases by roughly half of a percentage point every two years: for example, from 16.5 percent of the electorate in 2002 to 17 percent in 2004. At that rate, it will take sixteen years for the Hispanic vote to become a quarter of the electorate. And this was a lost year: Compared with the 2002 gubernatorial election, when Tony Sanchez headed the Democratic ticket, turnout in South Texas was dismal. Maverick County had a 15 percent turnout of registered voters, the lowest in the state, down from 26.5 percent in 2002. In Hidalgo County, the turnout dropped by a third; at 17 percent, it too was one of the lowest in the state. In Webb, the turnout was only 18 percent.

The low participation rate, particularly in traditional barrios, has been the subject of considerable discussion on the Internet. “What’s up with the decreasing Hispanic voter turnout [in Nueces County]?” asked a writer for the South Texas Chisme blog. “Blockwalkers were falling all over each other in the west-side precincts. Many of the low performing neighborhoods had 4 or 5 visits to each door.” But Republicans won three high-profile races in Nueces: county judge, sheriff, and court of appeals judge. Some of the explanations offered are obvious (the absence of a big name at the top of the Democratic ticket, strong Republican candidates at the local level), and others are familiar concerns (the perception in South Texas that the Democratic party took the border for granted when it was in power and still does, the grinding effect of poverty, which leads people to believe that voting benefits only the politicians, not the voters).

History and culture play a role as well. I learned a great deal about the history of Hispanic political involvement from the late Ruben Munguia, who, in addition to being Henry Cisneros’s uncle and political tutor, was one of a group of small-business owners who, in the years after World War II, first gave San Antonio’s West Side a voice in the affairs of the city. Munguia’s father was a printer in Mexico who came to San Antonio in the twenties when the successful Mexican Revolution turned left. “In Mexico,” Munguia once told me, “the government never did anything for you, it only did things to you.” That culture was transplanted to Texas, where the patrón system evolved, in which local political bosses exchanged favors (such as paying for funerals or arranging for a job) for votes. Straight-ticket Democratic votes. This was palanca (lever) politics: Vote Democrat and shut your eyes to what was going on. It was enforced by politiqueras, political workers (mostly female) who were, and still are, paid to get out the vote. Politics often took the form of a battle of clans in which power was an end in itself. Take over a county, a city, or a school board and you gained control of patronage: The “outs” got fired and the “ins” got hired. And so it went, decade after decade.

Democratic state representative Aaron Peña, of Edinburg, took on the subject of low Hispanic turnout in his blog, A Capitol Blog. “I am frequently asked why incumbent Court of Appeals judge Fred Hinojosa lost his race to [Republican] Rose Vela out of Corpus Christi,” he wrote. Peña mentioned the respect accorded the Vela name in South Texas and the growing number of Hispanics in the middle and upper middle classes. But he condemned “the sad legacy of South Texas boss or strongman politics which relied heavily on patrón-managed turnout rather than the advocacy of ideas.”

I called Peña to ask his opinion of the Velasquez Institute’s finding that Perry received only 13.9 percent of the Hispanic vote statewide. “That can’t be right,” he said. “Republicans are gaining ground. There has been a dramatic change in my lifetime of an educated middle and upper middle class, a tremendous growth in wealth. The banks are Hispanic friendly. There’s more capital available. This area is not hostile to Republicans. City leaders responded to Perry. Most Hispanics are socially conservative when it comes to gay marriage, respect for the military, and, if you’re older, abortion.” But Peña also assigns part of the blame for Hinojosa’s loss to “the historic neglect of the region by the state and national Democratic party.” There were no Democratic signs up, he said, but Perry and comptroller candidate Susan Combs went to Hidalgo County and put up signs. Even the politiqueras are no longer reliably Democratic; they’ll sell their services to the highest bidder.

Democrats are going to have to clean up their act or they are going to lose more and more races in South Texas. The older people who have lived under the patrón system all their lives are dying out. Younger, upwardly mobile Hispanics will not put up with it. The old ways will not go peacefully, but they will go. If Democrats ever hope to dominate this state again, they are going to have to recruit and elect clean candidates like Juan Garcia, a former Navy pilot and graduate of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, who defeated an incumbent Republican in a legislative race in Corpus Christi. They are going to have to base their appeals to voters on issues, not party loyalty. Otherwise, Republicans will have every bit as much claim to the Hispanic vote as Democrats do.

Peña ended his blog post with “Only time will tell.” He might well have added: “And time is running out.”


Links referenced within this article

Paul Burka
http://www.texasmonthly.com/mag/issues/authors/paulburka.php
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Futuro latino esta aquí

Roberto R. Calderón

Por si acaso nadie se había dado cuenta el 2006 borró toda duda de que el futuro de esta región, al igual que la del resto del estado y el país depende (y dependerá más con el tiempo), de la comunidad mexicana/latina para su propio bienestar.

Claro quedó con la movilización de abril pasado, sin precedentes en esta región, que la fuerza de la comunidad latina es y será contundente. Todos estaríamos más pobres sino fuera por las contribuciones de nuestra comunidad.

Además, Latinoamérica también sería mucho más pobre sin las remesas que contribuye la comunidad latina radicada en Estados Unidos. Para mediados del siglo 21 se anticipa que habrá alrededor de 100 millones de latinos en Estados Unidos. Esta cifra representará una cuarta parte de la población del país. Es decir, lo latino está aquí para quedarse. Lo mexicano también, no faltaba más.

Difícil sería querer borrar la proximidad de un país del otro como pretende hacer el llamado muro del odio que promulgó la mayoría saliente republicana en el Congreso de EU.

Aunque deberíamos decir que tal acción también contó con la complicidad demócrata, menos 83 cogresistas que votaron en contra.Para la comunidad latina este peligroso desdén del partido Demócrata avisa cautela para con un partido u otro. También cabe decir que la falla moral y política de los congresos correspondientes de México y otros países latinoamericanos en relación a la condición reprimida que viven sus connacionales aquí en el norte, fue y sigue siendo notable.

Primero son las inversiones del capital extranjero y sólo después el bien de sus connacionales. En la mayor parte de estos países el capital enviado por los inmigrantes supera el capital invertido por Estados Unidos, Europa o Asia en conjunto. ¿Por qué entonces se le extiende la alfombra roja a éstos pero no a los intereses substantivos de los connacionels emigrados?

¿De dónde nace esta disparidad geopolítica, no obstante las retóricas al contrario de los respectivos consulados y cuerpos diplomáticos?

Obviamente son estas complejas relaciones multilaterales: la del inmigrante y la relación entre su país y Estados Unidos. Si uno creyera en el dogma racista y arrogante que expide el movimiento antiinmigrante en Estados Unidos, uno pensaría que la ecuación es de un solo sentido. Es decir, los estadunidenses y su gobierno sonincapaces de cometer ningún error, ninguna fechoría, ningún atropello en la historia que justificara el movimiento de masas de mexicanos y latinomericanos hacia este país. El trasfondo del movimiento antiinmigrante lleva encima grandes razgos racistas que perciben al inmigrante como un ente menos deseable y, al fin de cuentas, incapaz de merecer su humanidad.

Su humanidad (desaparecida), se torna blanco del desprecio y explotación que se le adscribe y reparte en esta sociedad. Tan sólo está de ver el último ejemplo que fue la gran serie de redadas de la Operación Wagon Train, de las plantas de carne Swift a lo ancho y largo de seis estados hace algunas semanas, para reconocer lo poco que se le reconoce al inmigrante latino su humanidad y sus derechos laborales y políticos.

Las ganacias para el capital extranjero en Latinoamérica se multiplican porque tanto en los países de origen del inmigrante como dentro de la sociedad estadunidense, se generan condiciones óptimas para captar ganancias y divisas imposibles de lograr de cualquier otra manera.

Estados Unidos y México (y el resto de Latinoamérica) están atados del ombligo geográficamente. Podemos decir que el uno y otro coexistirán quieran o no hasta el fin de la historia. La marcha nacional de entre 3 a 5 millones de personas durante el año de 2006, empezando en enero y culminando con marchas históricas que surgieron en marzo y abril y que luego continuaron a menor escala hasta principios de septiembre, marcaron la mayor movilización cívica en la historia de Estados Unidos. Aquello de querer hacer criminales a los inmigrantes que tan sólo y buscan albergue y pan para sobrevivir, que huyen de las economías devastadas de sus países de origen, que cobró cuerpo político en algo que vino a ser conocido por su nombre popular, el Sensenbrenner Bill, o sea el H.R. 4437, detonó un eco masivo que movilizó a este autodeclarado "país de inmigrantes" como nunca antes. Y todo se hizo a pesar de los líderes electos a puestos políticos, a pesar de los medios comerciales de comunicación, a pesar de todo tipo de autoridades. El movimiento surgió del fondo de una esperanza extraordinaria que representa todo un pueblo de inmigrantes. El voto latino en el metroplex es ascendente. Diría que este es el momento en que debemos hacer religión cívica del voto electoral latino, en que todos debemos tomar seriamente el poder que ejercemos de manera individual para expresarnos políticamente de manera colectiva.

No fue accidente que el Norte de Texas y el resto del estado haya empezado a girar de nuevo hacia un dominio demócrata. El ritmo lo marca el cambio demográfico, lo marca el despertar de la comunidad latina al ejercer sus derechos cívicos y políticos. La realidad del inmigrante es que ha reconocido que estamos aquí para quedarnos no importe cuánto queramos al país de origen. Este país en el que vivimos hoy es el nuestro de aquí en adelante. Por cierto, nuestros hijos, nietos y bisnietos ya viven otra realidad y a ellos se les enterrará un día en algún futuro lejano en suelo estadunidense y no suelo del país de los padres y/o abuelos.

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Calderón es miembro de la facultad de historia en la Universidad del Norte de Texas.