Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Latino Groups Clash over NCLB Funding, QUORUM REPORT, April 5, 2005

Latino Groups Clash over NCLB Funding, QUORUM REPORT, April 5, 2005

Latino Groups Clash over NCLB Funding, QUORUM REPORT,
April 5, 2005

I received this from a colleague. The Quorum Report
is a news service provided to legislators and
subscribers ( Several of
us LULAC-ers finally got a chance to testify last
night. My name finally came up at 12:15AM! Battling
a sinus infection, I lost my voice and whispered my
testimony into the microphone (I posted my testimony
on my blog at See
attached documents on Hispanic CREO and the Black
Alliance for Educational Options, as these reveal
their connections to right-wing foundations. About 68
members of ACORN submitted opposition cards (yesterday
was their lobby day), but their cards will not be
submitted into record because Chairman Grusendorf
makes witnesses stay in order for their vote to count.
Scores of opponents had planes and buses to catch and
didn’t get a chance to testify, while nearly all of
the pro-voucher folks got a real hearing. He also
permitted lengthy testimony from them beginning at
around 2PM for voucher supporters. Voucher opponents
(except for a literal handful of witnesses earlier on)
didn’t begin testifying until around 8PM. And then he
attempted to curb our testimony urging us to hurry up
so that we wouldn’t be there all night. At the very
end as well, the committee heard testimony from
someone from the Eagle Forum and witnesses who said
that they were Republican and that opposition to
vouchers cuts across party lines. They expressed a
tremendous amount of concern about how strings would
ultimately be attached to private schools receiving
tax dollars and thusly impinging on the autonomy of
the private sector. I could say more but I’ll stop
here. I’m on antibiotics today (smile). -Angela


Hispanic CREO stages school choice rally; Texas LULAC
says concerns of minority communities being hijacked

Two Latino groups clashed today over whether a
lobbying effort in favor of school voucher legislation
was funded with taxpayer dollars.

The Hispanic Council for Reform in Educational Options
(CREO), a national non-profit organization, brought
hundreds of Latino parents and students to the Capitol
for a rally in support of school choice. Gov. Rick
Perry and other Republicans spoke at the rally.

The League of United Latin American Citizens said it
was illegal for Hispanic CREO to use grants it
received under the No Child Left Behind Act for its
lobbying efforts.

"Hypocritically, Hispanic CREO profit from
governmental largesse while decrying so-called 'big
government' that public schools represent," said
Angela Valenzuela, Texas LULAC's education committee
chair. "It is clearly insidious and under-handed."

Not so, said Rebeca Nieves Huffman, president of
Hispanic CREO. Nieves Huffman said that although her
group held 501c3 non-profit status, it could, through
an 'H' Election, use a small percentage of its funds
for lobbying. She said NCLB funds were not used for
Tuesday's rally.

"We are not lobbying. We are here with the parents who
are directly affected by the Legislature and these
parents want school choice," Nieves Huffman said. "We
are so careful about our No Child Left Behind money
because it is a government grant. The parents here are
not related to No Child Left Behind. That is complete

NCLB includes money for local organizations to educate
communities about tutoring options, remedial education
and educational choice.

Marcela Garcini, Hispanic CREO's director of parental
outreach in Texas, said her group has received
$500,000 under NCLB. She said the money was being
spent teaching Hispanic parents their rights under the
federal act.

"That is totally different from our school choice
movement," Garcini said. "Our accounts are so clear.
The Department of Education audits our money and we
never use the money to promote school choice."

In a press release titled ¡NO LO CREO! Texas LUALC
said that despite the fact that NCLB has been
"shortchanged by $8 billion," the Department of
Education had "funneled" $40 million to a small group
of right wing, anti-neighborhood school groups.

Valenzuela said Hispanic CREO got its start-up money
in 2001 from the Walton Family Foundation and the
Friedman Foundation. "Two leading right-wing
foundations," she said.

Valenzuela said Hispanic CREO then received a $500,000
grant under NCLB in 2003, "even though it had no
proven track record." She said it received the same
amount in 2004, and, last October, was awarded a
five-year $2.5 million grant from the Department of

"Of course it would be illegal for Hispanic CREO to
use any of that money for lobbying - for instance, by
telling people to call their legislators in support or
opposition to particular bills or to bring citizens to
Austin for a pro-voucher lobby day," Valenzuela said.
"So, who's paying for Hispanic CREO to be lobbying

Garcini said Hispanic parents and students attending
today's rally came from urban minority neighborhoods
in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and
Austin. She said they were rallying in support of
House Bill 1263, an urban school choice pilot program
for certain students authored by Rep. Linda
Harper-Brown (R-Irving).

HB 1263 was one of three pilot voucher bills being
heard by the House Public Education Committee today.

"This bill will allow children in difficult
situations, such as the victims of family violence,
ESL students, to move out of low-performing schools,"
Garcini said. "This bill benefits our kids, not the
wealthy kids."

Garcini disputed claims from the Coalition for Public
Schools that voucher bills could drain billions of
dollars from the state's public schools to pay for
tuition at private and religious schools.

"That money does not belong to the school districts,
it belongs to the children. The money must follow the
children," Garcini said. "When you have more than 50
percent dropout, when you have only 3.1 percent of
Latinos holding a BA degree, something is not

Valenzuela said that while urban public schools are
chronically under-funded, a coterie of well-funded
organizations were trying to persuade minority
communities that diverting funds from public education
in the name of choice would benefit them.

"We believe that it is of the utmost importance that
these organizations not be allowed to hijack the
concerns of communities of color, which include their
desire for genuine educational options that benefit
their children," Valenzuela said.

Speaking at Hispanic CREO's rally, Perry said he
wanted to let parents "liberate their children from
poorly performing schools." Hispanic CREO supporters
began the rally with chants of Si Se Puede.

Copyright April 5, 2005 by Harvey Kronberg,, All rights are reserved
To see my testimony early this morning, check out my
blog at

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