Monday, March 20, 2017

Immigrants Drive the Texas Economy




Immigrants Drive the Texas Economy

New analysis shows economic benefits of immigrants, potential harms from anti-immigrant legislation

In the current environment of hostility toward refugees and immigrants, new resources from CPPP show that immigrants make Texas stronger and that discriminatory policies hurt our communities and economy.
This Wednesday the House State Affairs Committee will hear public testimony on SB 4. The House version of the bill may strip out the provision that would deny state grant funds to local entities like cities and counties that fail to comply with federal immigration detainer requests. However, this anti-“sanctuary city” proposal would still pose a serious threat to immigrant families and the Texas economy.

Action Alert: Contact your Texas State Representative today and let them know what you think about SB 4.

Immigrants Drive the Texas Economy: One out of every six Texans is an immigrant, and CPPP’s new fact sheet explores how immigrants contribute to the state economy. In addition to our statewide analysis, check out our fact sheets for Fort Worth, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, El Paso and Houston.

CPPP is committed to working with our partners at the Capitol and in the business community to protect pathways to opportunity for immigrants in Texas. View more of our analysis on how state policies impact immigrants.

Ann Beeson
Ann Beeson
CPPP Executive Director

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Blood and Betrayal in the Southwest—Latino USA

From LatinoUSA:  The Southwest was once a part of Mexico, but that doesn’t mean that Mexicans have always felt welcome there. Land disputes led to segregation, discrimination and even state-sanctioned violence. In this rebroadcast, NPR's Latino USA looks into the history of resistance leaders like Juan Cortina and Reies López Tijerina, the dark side of the Texas Rangers and school segregation in one of our most popular episodes dedicated to the often untold history of blood and betrayal in the Southwest.

Challenging the School Privatization Agenda: Let's Grow, Not Kill, Our Democracy

González: The new separate and unequal

Education is the most powerful tool we have. It is the one thing that can transform lives, break the cycle of poverty and allow us to realize the possibilities of an equal society.

In fact, quality public schools are like air. We take it for granted but can't live without it.

Even though the vast majority of us understand the power of education and the necessity of a public school system, many incorrectly assume that because we’ve had public schools in our state for so long, they will always exist.

In 2011, all of this was brought into sharp focus during one of my doctoral classes. The professor walked in with a frightened look on his face, saying, “This is the end of public schools as we know it.”

At first, his words seemed extreme. But, after serving on the House Public Education Committee and now beginning my third term in the Texas Legislature, it is clear that his words reflect reality.

In 2011, the Legislature cut $5.4 billion in public education funding and implemented a testing regime that centered accountability on a dehumanizing, ineffective standardized test.

In short, schools would get a lot less money while facing impossible standards. It was as if schools were intentionally being set up to be labelled as failures. Why do you think campuses are now being labeled A through F?

Creating the perception of failing public schools in the minds of the public was necessary to fuel the “school choice” movement.

Listening to the political rhetoric at the state and national level, this strategy seems to have been effective. Instead of a collective discourse on strengthening and funding our public schools, the conversation centers on supporting charter expansion and vouchers.

The expansion of “school choice” translates into the creation of multiple systems, facilitating a structure of separate and unequal.

Charter school quality, however, is questionable. Research demonstrates that, on average, they don’t outperform traditional public schools.

The real problem with “school choice” is the creation of an unequal, tiered system that allows students to fall through the cracks. These tiers are only created when money and resources are taken away from public schools.

In the long term, this approach is unsustainable for a state serving nearly 6 million students.
The unequal distribution of resources, along with the fact that charter schools do not operate under the same rules as public schools, exacerbates the problem.

Charters claim to be “public”, but are actually run by corporations or nonprofits, rather than locally elected school boards that are accountable to parents and the community.

Charters are not subject to the same regulations as public schools. Those regulations include class size limits, student-teacher ratios, and having school nurses and counselors on site.

Also, charters can control enrollment through admission requirements like geographical location, discipline records, sibling priority, academic ability, and through dismissal and expulsion procedures that differ from those of traditional schools. This allows charters to preferentially select students who are less-expensive to educate.

When we fragment the public school system, we create more opportunity for inequity without making any real gains.

If we assume charters are a necessary alternative for some students in a “failing” school – and leave the other students behind – we are arbitrarily picking winners and losers amongst our most precious population: our children.

They need our protection, willingness, and dedication to support the public education system we have depended on for so many years, one in which all children are welcome and served.

I am so proud of our El Paso area public schools. Now more than ever, our community must remain vigilant and active in protecting them.

Just as Texas and El Paso rely on clean air, our future is dependent on the maintenance and support of our public schools.

Rep. Mary González, D-Clint, represents District 75 in the Texas House of Representatives.

Texas Latino Education Coalition Day of Action

Consider joining us at the Texas State Legislature this coming Tuesday, March 21, 2017 for a Day of Action organized and spearheaded by a statewide coalition, the Latino Education Coalition (TLEC).  @TXLatinoEdu
Angela Valenzuela

Friday, March 17, 2017

83% Of America's Top High School Science Students Are The Children Of Immigrants

Happy to come across this story in Forbes that imparts an important, if inconvenient truth to some, about immigrant achievement in the U.S.  My guess is that those most in opposition are themselves the progeny of immigrants.  In any case, here's what author Stuart Anderson says in this regard:

The evidence indicates that the children of immigrants are increasing their influence on science in America. Sixty percent (24 of 40) of the finalists of the 2004 Intel Science Talent Search had at least one immigrant parent. In 2011, that proportion rose to 70% (28 of 40) who had at least one immigrant. And in 2016, the number rose again to 83% (33 of 40) of the finalists of the Intel Science Talent Search who had at least one immigrant parent.

Eye-popping, right?  (Continue to Anderson piece below.) 

Although the story of immigrant achievement is more complex than I can possibly do justice to in this brief commentary (for more, read my book Subtractive Schooling), research on immigrant achievement has consistently shown higher levels of achievement among our immigrant population relative to our U.S.-born youth.  As already suggested, there are caveats...

Despite these, research by my former student, Laurie Pierce, working with former Texas State Rep. Rick Noriega in 2000 showed that a very high percentage—I want to say at least 45 percent—of high school valedictorians that year in the Houston Independent School District (HISD) were immigrant youth.  For Texas legislators in that era with Rick Perry as governor, it seemed wasteful not to give these youth a chance by waiving their out-of-state tuition dollars.  After all, they had contributed positively to K12 education and it wasn't their fault that they found themselves in the U.S. Many of them didn't even know they were undocumented until they made that sad discovery in high school that having to pay out-of-state tuition as a "foreigner" was their only option if they had hopes of going to college.  And many of them did.
Plus, these young people were already living in the U.S. for an extended time period and it seemed the right thing to do.  Here are the qualifications:
To qualify in Texas, students must live in the state at least three years continuously before graduating from high school or receiving the equivalent of a diploma. Students who are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States must declare an intention to seek legal resident status as soon as they are eligible.
Years of advocacy by MALDEF,  LULAC, and other groups together with research that Laurie and I did contributed to the development and passage in 2001 of HB1403, Texas' in-state tuition bill, sometimes referred to as the "Texas Dream Act." 

Texas, was the first state to pass this and was followed that same year in 2001 by California's AB 540, with other states adoting it as law, as well.  Today, most folks recognize this as the federal DREAM Act. 

At the moment, there is a bill in the Texas House, HB 393, authored by a Texas legislator named Strickland to repeal the 2001 law but thankfully, House Speaker Joe Straus isn't hearing it as he deems the policy to be “perfectly acceptable,” according to the San Antonio Express-News. 

Not only is it "perfectly acceptable," but is in fact demonstrably important to our future as a society and economy as this piece indicates, as well as more recent research in 2015 by Ann Beeson of the Center for Public Policy Priorities.  Not only are immigrants poised to thrive with good policies like HB 1403 and the DREAM Act, but our state and nation, too.

Angela Valenzuela

83% Of America's Top High School Science Students Are The Children Of Immigrants

 Stuart Anderson, Contributor

Amol Punjabi won the First Place Medal of Distinction for Basic Research at America's top competition for high school science students in 2016.
(Linda Doane/Society for Science & the Public)

Amol Punjabi won the First Place Medal of Distinction for Basic Research at America's top competition for high school science students in 2016.
What would we lose if immigrants could no longer come to America? Surprisingly, one of the most important things America would lose is the contributions made by their children.

A new study from the National Foundation for American Policy found a remarkable 83% (33 of 40) of the finalists of the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search were the children of immigrants. The competition organized each year by the Society for Science & the Public is the leading science competition for U.S. high school students. In 2017, the talent search competition was renamed the Regeneron Science Talent Search, after its new sponsor Regeneron Pharmaceuticals,and a new group of 40 finalists – America's next generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians – are competing in Washington, D.C., from March 9 to 15, 2017.

Both family-based and employment-based immigrants were parents of finalists in 2016. In fact, 75% – 30 out of 40 – of the finalists had parents who worked in America on H-1B visas and later became green card holders and U.S. citizens. That compares to seven children who had both parents born in the United States.

To put that in perspective, even though former H-1B visa holders represent less than 1% of the U.S. population, they were four times more likely to have a child as a finalist in the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search than were parents who were both born in the United States.

Parents who were international students were more likely to have a child as a finalist than native-born parents. A total of 27 of the 40 children – 68% – had a parent who came to America as an international student. That means if international students cannot remain in America after graduation (through Optional Practical Training and improved visa policies) it will also deprive America of the potentially substantial contributions of their children.

Three of the finalists, or 7.5%, had parents who came to America as family-sponsored immigrants (although the number is four parents, or 10%, if one counts the family-sponsored immigrant who married an H-1B visa holder).

Among the 40 finalists of the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search, 14 had parents both born in India, 11 had parents both born in China, and seven had parents both born in the United States. People of Indian and Chinese birth represent only about 1% of the U.S. population each, according to the Pew Research Center.

In addition to China, India and the United States, the countries of origin for the parents of 2016 Intel Science Talent Search finalists represent a diverse set of countries, including Canada, Cyprus, Iran, Japan, Nigeria, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

The evidence indicates that the children of immigrants are increasing their influence on science in America. Sixty percent (24 of 40) of the finalists of the 2004 Intel Science Talent Search had at least one immigrant parent. In 2011, that proportion rose to 70% (28 of 40) who had at least one immigrant. And in 2016, the number rose again to 83% (33 of 40) of the finalists of the Intel Science Talent Search who had at least one immigrant parent.

The science competition has been called the “Junior Nobel Prize” and more than 95% of winners of the Intel Science Talent Search (STS) traditionally have pursued science as a career, with 70% earning Ph.D.’s or M.D.’s. Many of the students I interviewed hope to start their own companies.

In 2016, seven of the nine top awards were earned by the children of immigrants, including first place prizes for innovation and basic research. Amol Punjabi won the First Place Medal of Distinction for Basic Research for developing software that could be used by pharmaceutical companies to combat cancer and heart disease.

The children of immigrants among the finalists I interviewed understood the sacrifices their parents made to ensure them a better life. And, it is important to remember, all of these children, whether born here or naturalized, are as American as you and me.

Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna appreciates all her Nigerian-born parents have done to give her the best education possible. “They sacrificed so much for me,” said Augusta, who experimented with ways to improve the properties of cement, which has practical applications that include helping to prevent oil spills. “My father grew up during the civil war in Nigeria and couldn’t afford an education.”

Despite the obstacles, Augusta’s father, Tobias Nna, overcame the odds and was trained as a physical therapist. He came to the United States on an H-1B visa. “Our goal in coming to America was to provide an opportunity for our children to study, have access to journals and computers,” Tobias Nna told me. “I’m very happy they have taken advantage of these opportunities.”

“Seeing what my parents did to make a better life for their children has inspired me to do everything I can to succeed,” said Augusta. “This is the land of opportunity.”

Thursday, March 16, 2017

On the erasure of Spanish colonial history in Texas....

U.S. history ignoring Spanish, Mexican contributions

As many of us learned in elementary school, March 2, 1836, is Texas Independence Day.
Oddly, Texas is no longer independent since in 1845 (only a short nine years later), Anglo immigrant insurgents who illegally declared Texas’ independence from Mexico traded their independence to join the U.S. as a slave state.

And contrary to what we were taught in grade school about the 1836 Texas revolt, the independence journey began in 1810. As such, the birth of Texas independence undeniably comes with a Spanish-Mexican pedigree. Yet the struggle for liberty’s formula leaves this out and is typically ignored in mainstream Texas history.

Spanish explorer Juan de Oñate, in a rendering by El Paso artist Tom Lea, colonized the El Paso area. Along with Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and Hernando de Soto, such explorers are given short shrift in U.S. and Texas textbooks. Photo: /Houston Chronicle / Handout
Photo: /Houston Chronicle
Sadly, much more of U.S. (and Texas) history is left out of textbooks. For example, at the national level, both Roanoke and Jamestown, representing the earliest English settlements in what is now the United States, already had Spanish footprints.

Likewise, in Texas, most people don’t realize that Sam Houston’s endeavors for Texas independence took over a work in progress. Tejanas and Tejanos had already done the heavy lifting, sacrificing and dying for Texas independence. For example, on April 6, 1813, Texas’ first president, José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara, proclaimed the first Texas Declaration of Independence to jubilant Bexareños outside the Spanish Governors Palace. He signed the first Texas Constitution a week later.
As such, the significance of March 2 “Texas Independence” is — at best — only an episode in a much older chain of events.

The fact is that in rendering overall U.S. history, the roles of Spanish people, places and events, when mentioned at all, are typically distorted, discarded or dismissed.

So, it is with Francisco Vásquez de Coronado (1510-54), a strong courageous leader who figures prominently in the early history of both Texas and the United States. Still, he is often mocked in U.S. history books for what mainstream historians perceive as an outlandish quest, searching for the mythical city of Quivira.

Likewise, students in U.S. classrooms learn about the Spaniards’ lust for gold, search for imaginary places and brutality toward Native Americans. Rarely are they tutored about Spanish explorers’ positive impact in U.S. history.

Based on slanted lesson plans, students are most likely to recall unflattering details, not positive attributes. In fact, the English, Dutch, French and U.S. colonists own a significant share of brutal treatment toward Native Americans.

The fact that Spanish royal and religious leaders forbade ill treatment of indigenous people is well documented. They labored endlessly in attempts to avoid it but were generally hampered by the great distance involved. Many of the more ignoble violators of human rights were arrested, charged with crimes and fairly punished in Spanish courts.

So, a summary of the life of Vásquez de Coronado is in order. To start, here’s a little-known aspect of his story: Throughout his life, Francisco never used the last name of Coronado by itself. He used one of two last names, Vásquez or Vásquez de Coronado.

Vásquez de Coronado developed the first detailed exploration reports and the first glimpse of the people, vegetation and terrain of the Southwest (New Mexico), the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas. Attesting to their accuracy, his travel logs were used for years as authoritative documents for later explorers and settlers.

As with other explorers of his day, Vásquez de Coronado was fascinated by a prevailing myth of a mysterious island called Antilia, far into the Atlantic Ocean. Ancient maps even included the site. Supposedly, the Muslim invasion of Spain had caused seven Portuguese bishops to load all they owned in boats, and they sailed off and resettled far away in the sea. As such, when Columbus reached Española in 1492, European experts believed he had reached the Island of Antilia, and so named the group of islands. That name — the Antilles — remains to this day.

Most, if not all, 15th-century Europeans believed in the Antilia legend and the Strait of Anián, along with other legends. When famous explorer John Cabot first landed on the upper eastern shore of America, sailing for the king of England, he named the land “Seven Cities.” He believed he had found Antilia.
In initiating his 1539-40 journey, Vásquez de Coronado, governor of Nueva Galicia, was also hoping to equal the good fortunes of Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizarro by finding another Aztec empire in the north. After dispatching forward parties, the explorer was encouraged by promising reports. He split up his large expedition, totaling nearly 400 military men, families, more than 2,000 Native American allies, and large herds of horses, cattle and sheep.

This is verified as the first massive movement of Europeans into New Mexico. At times, contact with hostile natives was vicious. Even so, Capt. Garcia López de Cárdenas, leading one of Vásquez de Coronado’s subgroups, was among the first Europeans to see the Grand Canyon.

In 1541, the Spanish traveled through a grassy area they equated with a never-ending sea (Llano Estacado) in northern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle. Of special note to Texans is the fact that on May 29, 1541, Father Juan Padilla, a priest in the Vásquez de Coronado expedition, offered the first American Thanksgiving Day religious ceremony in the Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas Panhandle. A historical plaque identifies the site.

Although Vásquez de Coronado and Hernando de Soto visited the same region at the same time in Kansas and Arkansas, they missed each other by about 300 miles. Three intrepid Spanish explorers were the first Europeans to travel in today’s middle United States — Vásquez de Coronado, de Soto and Juan de Oñate. Thrown from his horse in 1542, Vásquez de Coronado was greatly limited by his injuries. He returned to Mexico City where his health worsened.

Francisco Vásquez de Coronado died in 1554 at the young age of 44.

Most explorers in America seem to have Spanish rather than English names. When you understand this, you understand that they have earned their place in history. The strong foundation of the authentic story of the U.S. rests on logs and cartography prepared by Spaniards Alonso Alvarez de Piñeda, Estéban Gómez, Lucas Vásquez de Ayllón, Pedro de Salazar, Fortún Jiménez, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, Bartolomé Ferrer and so many others.

They merit but rarely receive their fair share of recognition, respect and equal treatment with Anglo Saxon characters in U.S. history books.

It’s time to render U.S. and Texas history in a seamless manner. Mainstream U.S. historians must learn to enfold vital Spanish contributions to our nation’s founding. In Texas, pre-1836 Spanish-Mexican people, places and events must no longer be arbitrarily edited out of Texas history just because they don’t fit the Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston models.

Likewise, the Texas State Board of Education must stop using 1836 as the Texas history baseline.
Finally, if you want to learn more of the Spanish-Mexican pioneers who founded this great place we call Texas, plan to attend the 38th Texas State Hispanic Genealogical and Historical Conference, Sept. 28-30, sponsored by the Tejano Genealogy Society of Austin, at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Austin.

José “Joe” Antonio López was born and raised in Laredo and is a U.S. Air Force veteran. He lives in Universal City and is the author of four books. His latest is “Preserving Early Texas History (Essays of an Eighth-Generation South Texan).” This article was first published by the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service.

Texas Senate Education Committee to Consider Dangerous Voucher Bill

From the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP)...

Texas Senate Education Committee to Consider Dangerous Voucher Bill next Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Contact your state senator, and urge them to stand up for public schools

On Tuesday March 21, the Texas Senate Education Committee will discuss Senate Bill 3, a dangerous proposal that would use taxpayer dollars to subsidize private school education without accountability.

According to our recent policy analysis, SB 3 vouchers would cut public school funding in our state by more than $2 billion per year if five percent of Texas children opted into the program.

Contact your Texas State Senator and members of the Senate Education Committee today, and tell them to oppose SB 3. Click here to see how many dollars would be siphoned from public schools in Senate Education Committee members' districts.

Instead of diverting tax dollars to subsidize private school tuition for wealthier families, the Texas Legislature should remodel Texas’ outdated school finance system to ensure that there is sufficient financial support for all kids to get a quality public education, no matter where they live or what their background. 

Ann Beeson
CPPP Executive Director

Center for Public Policy Priorities

7020 Easy Wind Dr, Suite 200, Austin, TX 78752\

"Trumpism" of the Past is the Authoritarianism of the Present

Here's a comment by Gary Borgnis from the Huffington Post Facebook pageI take issue only with the "nation of immigrants" motif that while true for so many disregards the continuing presence of the native population that existed before there was such thing as a place called the "United States."  This is hardly a trivial point, as the vitriol of this current white nationalist administration is premised on the notion of an original, if ultimately untenable, white claim to the land.  
From the Sept. 2016 rally at the Texas SBOE against racist textbook

Such is the stuff of myth making important to empires and empire building.  This has been an ongoing form of "Trumpism," if you will, conveyed in Eurocentric curricula, the hegemony of the English language, institutionalized forms of oppression, and so on that served and serves as fertile ground for the "authoritarianism," noted by Borgnis, of the present.

So my hope is that America also wake up to a critical stance towards its own history that at least from where I sit involves supporting the teaching of Ethnic Studies in our schools.  At some point in a more inclusive, explicit multicultural future where power-neutral or power-evasiveness by the white majority is an anachronism of the past, Ethnic Studies becomes the default curriculum in our schools.

Short of this, Borgnis' words ring true to me this morning and happy to share:
"This is a calling like none we have ever seen before in the history of our country. It is not a calling of liberals, conservatives or independents, but of all Americans. A calling for Americans of all backgrounds, ages, and races to rise in defense of one America. Throughout our history we have fought off many external threats to our republic and democracy. For the first time in our history we are faced with an internal threat from our own president. An internal threat from a mentally unstable president who refuses to release his tax returns because it would expose his lies and corruption. A vengeful president whose vindictive narcissism determines his every word, action and tweet. A racist president and an administration that would stoke the fires of hate, anger and fear in turning us against each other only to create a vacuum void of hope they would fill with authoritarianism and a dictatorship. 
Let us not forget who we are. We are Americans and everything it means to be an American. Upon that common ground we embrace the core values of our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence that have always been our greatest gift . Our love of freedom has always been the bond that has held us together, moved us forward and defended us from fascism. We are mostly a nation of immigrants and our strength has always been in our diversity. Our power has always been our belief and commitment that we strive to be one nation with inalienable rights where all people are created equal with justice for all. Make no mistake. All of this can and will be lost if we do not heed the call. "United we stand, divided we fall." has never rang more true. Rise. Rise up. Answer the call." ~ Gary Borgnis, #ChooseTruthOverTrump, #Resist, #Persist, #AnswerTheCall (Feel free to copy, paste and share my post.)

Final comment for Texans, I've mentioned this Ethnic Studies bill (SB695) by Senator Sylvia Garcia elsewhere on this blog.   Please visit the page to see what you can do.  We need folks to weigh in so that the bill gets heard this legislative session.