Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and English Language Learners (ELLs)

Excellent presentation by Dr. Wayne Wright on the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) with respect, in particular, to English language learners.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Why Do Millennials Not Understand Racism?

Interesting read.  We of course know that we can't imagine race/racism away. 
We have to work at it. Ideally, it interrogates white, middle class privilege.  And it overlaps with other forms of subordination and oppression related to gender, sexual orientation, class, documentation status, and so on.  It's institutional, individual, and historical.  It's a multi-faceted problem.  And there's ample scholarship to provide guidance in this regard—literally decades worth of research, writing, and publishing in this area of race and ethnic relations, multicultural education, and beyond. 
Millennials will benefit best and most from ethnic studies as a new default in public education—and about which I have already written, alongside vast, numerous others that similarly opine.
Angela Valenzuela

May 16 2014 5:42 PM

They think if we ignore skin color, racism will somehow disappear.

Millennials see racism as a matter of different treatment, justified by race, that you solve by removing race from the equation.
When you hear MTV, you don’t think “research.” But, for the last few years, the music television channel has been building a public affairs campaign to address bias called “Look Different.” Aimed at millennials, it seeks to help them deal with prejudice and discrimination in their lives. And as part of the project, MTV has worked with pollsters to survey a nationally representative sample of people ages 14 to 24 to measure how young people are “experiencing, affected by, and responding to issues associated with bias.”

Overall, MTV confirms the general view of millennials: Compared with previous generations, they’re more tolerant and diverse and profess a deeper commitment to equality and fairness. At the same time, however, they’re committed to an ideal of colorblindness that leaves them uncomfortable with race, opposed to measures to reduce racial inequality, and a bit confused about what racism is.
All of this is apparent in the findings. Ninety-one percent of respondents “believe in equality” and believe “everyone should be treated equally.” Likewise, 84 percent say their families taught them to treat everyone the same, no matter their race, and 89 percent believe everyone should be treated as equals. With that said, only 37 percent of respondents (30 percent of whites and 46 percent of minorities) say they were raised in families that talk about race.

For this reason, perhaps, a majority of millennials say that their generation is “post-racial.” Seventy-two percent believe their generation believes in equality more than older people, and 58 percent believe that as they get older, racism will become less of an issue. It’s almost certainly true that this view is influenced by the presence of President Obama. Sixty-two percent believe that having a black president shows that minorities have the same opportunities as whites, and 67 percent believe it proves that race is not a “barrier to accomplishments.”


It’s no surprise, then, that most millennials aspire to “colorblindness.” Sixty-eight percent say “focusing on race prevents society from becoming colorblind.” As such, millennials are hostile to race-based affirmative action: 88 percent believe racial preferences are unfair as a matter of course, and 70 percent believe they are unfair regardless of “historical inequalities.” Interestingly, the difference between whites and people of color is nonexistent on the first question and small (74 percent versus 65 percent) on the second. But this might look different if you disaggregated “people of color” by race. There’s a chance that black millennials are more friendly to affirmative action than their Latino or Asian peers.
For all of these aspirations, however, millennials have a hard time talking about race and discrimination. Although 73 percent believe that we should talk “more openly” about bias, only 20 percent say they’re comfortable doing so—despite the fact that a plurality of minorities say that their racial identities shape their views of the world.

What’s more, for all of their unity on tolerance and equality, white and minority millennials have divergent views on the status of whites and minorities in society. Forty-one percent of white millennials say that the government “pays too much attention to the problems of racial minority groups while 65 percent of minorities say that whites have more opportunities.” More jarring is the 48 percent of white millennials who say discrimination against whites is as big a problem as discrimination against racial minorities. With that in mind, it’s worth a quick look at a 2012 poll from the Public Religion Research Institute, where 58 percent of white millennials said that discrimination against whites was as big a problem as discrimination against minorities.
It’s hard to say which is the “true” number, but there’s no doubt that a substantial plurality of young white people believe their race is a disadvantage, which is ludicrous given the small number who say that they’ve felt excluded because of their race (10 percent) or say that they’ve been hurt by racial offenses (25 percent).
But while this reaction doesn’t seem to have a basis in reality, it makes perfect sense given what millennials writ large believe about racism. Let’s go back to the results on colorblindness and affirmative action. Seventy-three percent believe that “never considering race would improve society,” and 90 percent say that “everyone should be treated the same regardless of race.”
From these results, it’s clear that—like most Americans—millennials see racism as a matter of different treatment, justified by race, that you solve by removing race from the equation. If we ignore skin color in our decisions, then there can’t be racism.
The problem is that racism isn’t reducible to “different treatment.” Since if it is, measures to ameliorate racial inequality—like the Voting Rights Act—would be as “racist” as the policies that necessitated them. No, racism is better understood as white supremacy—anything that furthers a broad hierarchy of racist inequity, where whites possess the greatest share of power, respect, and resources, and blacks the least.
And the magic of white supremacy is that its presence is obscured by the focus on race. When a black teenager is unfairly profiled by police, we say it’s “because of the color of his skin,” which—as a construction—avoids the racism at play, from the segregated neighborhood the officer patrols to the pervasive belief in black criminality that shapes our approach to crime. Likewise, it obscures the extent to which this isn’t just different treatment— it’s unequal treatment rooted in unequal conditions.
Millennials have grown up in a world where we talk about race without racism—or don’t talk about it at all—and where “skin color” is the explanation for racial inequality, as if ghettos are ghettos because they are black, and not because they were created. As such, their views on racism—where you fight bias by denying it matters to outcomes—are muddled and confused.
Which gets to the irony of this survey: A generation that hates racism but chooses colorblindness is a generation that, through its neglect, comes to perpetuate it.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Scientists unlock a secret to Latinos' longevity, with hopes of slowing aging for everyone

Very interesting research by UCLA bioinformatician Steve HorvathThanks to Dr. Rudy Acuña for sharing.

Latinos' measured longevity, he finds, is largely genetic, but also related to levels of educational attainment.  This is what surprised me in this report:
Horvath emphasized that Latinos’ slower aging rate cannot be explained by lifestyle factors such as diet, socioeconomic status, education or obesity, because researchers adjusted for the influence of such factors.
They are of course referring to findings in populations so on an individual level, variation on such things matter.  Moreover, these findings do not at all mean that we shouldn't eat nutritiously, but rather to shed light on what has been termed, the Hispanic paradox,” which according Horvath,

“It suggests that what gives Hispanics their advantage is really their Native American ancestry, because they share ancestry with these indigenous Americans.”
Further worthy of note is the finding of beyond the age of 85 for African Americans, their lifespans tend to be longer than comparable whites.  

Barring the ravaging effects of colonization (for example, read this illuminating piece that advocates for food sovereignty for Native Americans in the U.S.), to this I would add that "sharing ancestry" is a living, breathing thing, too, since Mexican Americans and others that emanate from Central and South America often eat an ancestral diet.

Every time we eat a corn (not flour) taco, that's an indigenous meal.  The whole planet can thusly benefit from this diet and I encourage everyone to read this book titled, Decolonize your Diet by  Luz Calvo and Catriona Rueda Esquibel, and to also check out this website for more resources on how to do this.  

I personally try to consume nopales or nopalitos (cactus) regularly.  I use the small, tender leaves from my cactus in my garden to regularly make jugo verde (green juice) that you can read about here.  One of the ingredients, parsley, is also a natural teeth whitener.  I notice my teeth whiten with regular use.

Hope folks find this helpful.  I'm making me a jugo verde today!

Angela Valenzuela

Scientists unlock a secret to Latinos' longevity, with hopes of slowing aging for everyone

A new way to measure how humans age suggests that Latino Americans withstand life’s wear and tear better than non-Latino whites — and that they may have their Native American ancestors to thank for their longer lives.

The findings offer some insight into a long-standing demographic mystery: Despite having higher rates of inflammation and such chronic diseases as obesity and diabetes, Latinos in the United States have a longer average lifespan than do non-Latino whites.

The research also helps answer questions about why some people die young while others live to old age, and what chronic diseases have to do with aging.

To get a handle on some of these thorny issues, UCLA bioinformatician Steve Horvath and his colleagues have been trying to devise a biological clock that measures age more comprehensively than simply counting up birthdays. Their method reflects the activity level of the epigenome, the set of signals that prompt one’s genes to change their function across a lifespan in response to new demands.

This “epigenetic clock” captures a key feature of aging: that as we grow older, there are complex but predictable changes in the rate at which our genes are switched on and off.

Continue reading here.

#NativeAmericans #FoodSovereignty #LatinoParadox #HispanicParadox #LatinoHealth

Thursday, August 18, 2016

AB 2016 just cleared the California Senate floor...Consider writing a letter of support

Good News out of California! 

Yesterday, AB 2016 cleared the Senate floor with a final vote of 32-5. Soon it will make its way to the Governor's desk so please send us a signed copy of your letter of support by end of day Sunday. Please CLICK HERE for a sample letter and email the signed copy back to us ASAP to: (Many thanks to those

As we mentioned earlier this week, if passed, AB2016 will create a model A-G approved Ethnic Studies Curriculum that school districts can adopt, and would be the first of its kind in the entire country!

who have already sent a letter of support!)

Check out an earlier post on this on my blog.

Please Consider Making a Donation

If you support the work we are doing with the Ethnic Studies Now Coalition please help us fund the movement. We cannot do it without you. With your help we can expand our community organizing/advocacy campaign, provide professional development support for teachers and curriculum design for school districts. PLEASE make a donation to Ethnic Studies Now! by clicking the link below:


José Lara

Coordinating Committee Member, 
Ethnic Studies Now Coalition
Tel. (213) 267-9031
Fax. (323) 844-0110


Sunday, August 14, 2016

U.S. judge blocks Texas law on election interpreters

U.S. judge blocks Texas law on election interpreters
 12:59 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016
Austin American-Statesman

A federal judge Friday blocked Texas from enforcing a state law that limits the availability of interpreters in polling places, ruling that it violates protections guaranteed by the U.S. Voting Rights Act.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman of Austin came in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Mallika Das, who was born in India and who, in October 2014, brought her son into a Round Rock polling station to act as an interpreter because she had limited proficiency in English.

Officials at the Williamson County polling station, however, barred Saurabh Das from helping his mother, relying on a state election law that requires interpreters to be registered to vote in the same county as the person they intend to help.

Because Saurabh Das was registered in Travis County, his mother had to vote without his help.

In a summary judgment relying on briefs and a hearing held Monday, Pitman ruled that the residency requirement violated Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act, which guarantees voters the right to be helped by a person of their choice if they need assistance because of blindness, disability or inability to read or write.

To enjoy the same opportunity to vote as other citizens, Pitman wrote, limited-language voters must be able to navigate polling stations and communicate with election officers.

“They must be able to understand and fill out any required forms, and to understand and to answer any questions directed at them by election officers. And they must be able to do so with the assistance of a person whom they trust,” the judge added.

In addition to voiding the law on interpreters at the ballot box, Pitman gave state lawyers seven days to provide him with “additional remedies” needed to protect the rights of limited-language voters. Lawyers for Das will have another seven days to respond to the state’s suggestions.

The lawsuit was filed on Mallika Das’ behalf by the Organization of Chinese Americans-Greater Houston, a nonprofit that seeks to improve the social, political and economic well-being of Asian-Americans and Pacific-Americans.

Das, however, died before the case could be completed, but Pitman rejected state lawyers’ request to dismiss the lawsuit, ruling that the organization had standing to continue in her place.

Pitman also ordered the state to pay the organization’s legal fees and court costs.

No Time to Lose: How to Build a World-Class Education System State by State

Go to this website for the actual, downloadable report recently out of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).


 No Time to Lose: How to Build a World-Class Education System State by State 


The bad news is most state education systems are falling dangerously behind the world in a number of international comparisons and on our own National Assessment of Educational Progress, leaving the United States overwhelmingly underprepared to succeed in the 21st century economy.
The U.S. workforce, widely acknowledged to be the best educated in the world half a century ago, is now among the least well-educated in the world, according to recent studies.
At this pace, we will struggle to compete economically against even developing nations, and our children will struggle to find jobs in the global economy.
States have found little success. Recent reforms have underperformed because of silver bullet strategies and piecemeal approaches.

Meanwhile, high-performing countries implement policies and practices and build comprehensive systems that look drastically different from ours, leading them to the success that has eluded states. Pockets of improvement in a few districts or states is not enough to retain our country’s global competitiveness.
The good news is, by studying these other high-performing systems, we are discovering what seems to work. Common elements are present in nearly every world-class education system, including a strong early education system, a reimagined and professionalized teacher workforce, robust career and technical education programs, and a comprehensive, aligned system of education. These elements are not found in the U.S. in a consistent, well-designed manner as they are found in high performers.
We have the ability to turn things around. Much higher-performing, yet less-developed countries—such as Poland and Singapore—have made significant progress developing their education systems in just a decade or two because they felt a strong sense of urgency.
State policymakers, too, can get started right away to turn around our education system by taking immediate steps to:
  • Build an inclusive team and set priorities. 
  • Study and learn from top performers.
  • Create a shared statewide vision.
  • Benchmark policies.
  • Get started on one piece.
  • Work through “messiness.”
  • Invest the time. 
We must directly face these challenges and begin immediately to reimagine and re-engineer our own education system. We must implement meaningful and comprehensive changes that will produce real results for our students.
State legislators must lead this work. Education is first and foremost a state responsibility. Each state can develop its own strategies for building a modern education system that is globally competitive, similar to the approach taken by other high-performing countries.
But we must begin now. There’s no time to lose.

Release Event

2016 NCSL Legislative SummitA media event was held Aug. 9 at the 2016 NCSL Legislative Summit to release “No Time to Lose: How to Build a World-Class Education System State by State” to the media.

About the Study Group

The National Conference of State Legislatures hosted a plenary session during its 2013 Fall Forum to discuss the results of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) most recent survey of what 15-year-olds in industrialized countries could demonstrate about their knowledge of reading, mathematics and science. This survey is known as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Upon hearing of the disappointing performance of students in the U.S., officers of NCSL’s Standing Committee on Education requested that NCSL launch a legislative study into international comparisons of high-performing education systems. They wanted to study other high-performing countries to learn which policies and practices were in place and what lessons the U.S. and individual states might learn from their success. They also wanted to learn about the consequences for our economy and quality of life if we failed to improve our standing.
A bipartisan group of 28 veteran legislators and legislative staff, along with several partners from the private sector, began an 18-month study in 2014. They focused on the highest performing countries on PISA to discover commonalities across their policies and practices. They met with education leaders from these countries, along with national and international experts who study their systems. They also visited several countries to see the differences firsthand.
This first report explains why there’s no time to lose in rebuilding state education systems.  However NCSL’s study group still has questions—and surely the reader does too—about how to design and implement these systemic changes in the states. Where should legislators begin—teacher recruitment or preparation, standards, assessments, early learning? How should states realign their resources? Do some of these policies fit together better into an actionable package? There is still much to learn and discover.
The study group members will continue to meet through 2017 to find the answers to these and other questions by continuing to study and learn from other successful countries, as well as districts and states here in the U.S. Upon completion of our study, the study group will produce a policy roadmap that states can use to guide their reforms, as well as provide support to states ready to embark on these efforts

Selena - Mexican American Music of Today - Mi Musica with Selena Quintan...

Just came across this wonderful history lesson on Tejano music by the late Selena Quintanilla herself.  Listen to Part I and then go to Part II to see the remaining part of her presentation (scroll down to my other blog post this morning).

By Dr. Deborah Paredez
 I am happy to see she got excellent advice on this by people whose work I know and respect, including Dr. Olga Najera Ramirez, Dr. Manuel Peña, and Abel Salas.  On so many levels—and of course, especially for her family—her senseless death at the tender age of 24 when she was murdered is profoundly tragic.

Here is a great biography of her on wikipedia which is the source of this next paragraph that reveals her singular impact on music history albeit posthumously:

Dreaming of You, the crossover album Selena had been working on at the time of her death, was released in July 1995. It sold 175,000 copies on the day of its release in the U.S.—a then-record for a female vocalist—and sold 331,000 copies its first week.[229][230] Selena became the third female artist to sell over 300,000 units in one week, after Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey.[231] It debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, becoming the first album by a Hispanic artist to do so.[232][233][234] Dreaming of You helped Selena to become the first solo artist to debut a posthumous album at number one.[235] The recording was among the top-ten best-selling debuts for a musician, and was the best-selling debut by a female act.[236] Dreaming of You joined five of Selena's studio albums on the Billboard 200 chart simultaneously, making Selena the first female artist in Billboard history to do so.[237] The album was certified 35x platinum by the RIAA, for shipping more than 3.5 million copies in the U.S. alone.[74][238] As of 2015, the recording has sold five million copies worldwide, becoming the best-selling Latin album of all-time in the United States.[239] In 2008, Joey Guerra of the Houston Chronicle said its lead single, "I Could Fall in Love", had "made the Tejano goddess a posthumous crossover star".[240] Her death was believed to have sparked an interest in Latin music by people who were unaware of its existence.[241][207][242] It was also believed her death "open[ed] the doors" to other Latin musicians such as Jennifer Lopez,[243] Ricky Martin, and Shakira.[244]
Our Tejana music legend, our own Tejana "candle in the wind," your death remains as wildly absurd today as is was the day that it happened on March 31, 1995.  We miss you, Selena, but are thankful for your many legacies, including this lesson on Tejano/a music and its roots and influences, rightfully positioning it as a contribution to our world's musical heritage.

Angela Valenzuela