Friday, April 28, 2006

White teens accused of brutal racist attack: Hispanic boy left for dead

This is all so very tragic for all of the youth and families involved. Our nation's institutions--families, churches, and schools--need to search for ways to better educate our children on the subject of diversity--and specifically, on issues pertinent to immigration in historic and contemporary perspectives. To prevent the loss of even more lives, we need this now more than ever. -Angela

SPRING, Texas (AP) -- Two white teenagers severely beat and sodomized a 16-year-old Hispanic boy who they believed had tried to kiss a 12-year-old white girl at a party, authorities said.

The attackers forced the boy out of the house party, beat him and sodomized him with a metal pipe, shouting epithets "associated with being Hispanic," said Lt. John Martin with the Harris County Sheriff's Department.

They then poured bleach over the boy, apparently to destroy DNA evidence and left him for dead, authorities said. He wasn't discovered until Sunday, a day after the attack. (Watch how a neighbor described the victim's injuries -- 1:34)

The victim, who was not identified, suffered severe internal injuries and remained in critical condition Thursday.

Keith Robert Turner, 17, and David Henry Tuck, 18, are charged with aggravated sexual assault, investigators said. (Watch teens' acquaintances describe them -- 2:11)

Prosecutors are considering whether to attach hate-crime charges, but unless the victim dies, the possible penalty would be the same. If the boy dies and it is ruled a hate crime, the attackers could face the death penalty, authorities said.

The case has been turned over to the homicide division, Martin said, normal procedure in severe assault cases.

Authorities set bond at $100,000 for Turner and at $20,000 for Tuck.

Spring is a middle-class, largely white suburb of 36,000 residents, located about 10 miles north of the Houston city line.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Extremists Declare 'Open Season' on Immigrants; Hispanics Target of Incitement and Violence

The national debate is playing at ground level in terrifying ways. This report by the Anti-Defamation League is worth reading. -Angela

ADL Report: Extremists Declare 'Open Season' on Immigrants; Hispanics Target of Incitement and Violence

Washington, DC, April 24, 2006 … White supremacists and other far-right extremists are engaging in a growing number of violent assaults against legal and illegal immigrants and those perceived to be immigrants, while singling out all Hispanic Americans as potential targets, according to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). To counter this emerging new threat, the League has outlined a broad public policy Action Agenda stressing Congressional action and increased vigilance by law enforcement.

Extremists Declare 'Open Season' on Immigrants: Hispanics Target of Incitement and Violence takes a detailed look at how white supremacists, racist skinheads and others identifying with far-right extremist groups are using the national debate over immigration reform as a means to encourage likeminded racists to speak out, or even commit violent acts against immigrants. The full report was issued today at a special session at the ADL Shana Amy Glass National Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.

"It is time to shine the spotlight on those who have seized upon the immigration debate as an opportunity to advance their agenda of hate, bigotry and white supremacy," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "This report reminds us that there is a direct connection between the national policy debate and the atmosphere surrounding the daily lives of immigrants. Extremist groups are seeking to exploit the flow of foreign workers into this country to spread a message of xenophobia, to promote hateful stereotypes and to incite bigotry and violence against Hispanics, regardless of their status as citizens."

The extreme fringe of the anti-immigration movement includes white supremacist groups, anti-Hispanic hate groups masquerading as immigration reform groups, and vigilante border patrol groups who have conducted armed patrols along the borders of the United States.

While most hate crimes targeting Hispanics have not been the work of the extremist groups themselves, the groups' virulent anti-Hispanic rhetoric has contributed to a broader climate of hate. Thus, it comes as no surprise that since 2000, the FBI has reported over 2,500 hate crimes directed at individuals on the basis of their Hispanic ethnicity. The reluctance of many victims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities compounds the safety risk.

The new focus by far-right extremists on Hispanics in particular and the immigration debate more generally has been borne out over the past several years with an increase of violence against Hispanics, according to the ADL report. The report also shows that white supremacist organizations have also amplified their hate-filled rhetoric as the issue of comprehensive immigration reform has moved to the forefront of national policy debates.

The Rhetoric: Racists Declare "Open Season" on Immigrants

The new ADL report cites examples of virulent anti-immigration rhetoric from both notorious and lesser-known figures on the American far-right scene. Some examples include:

• "Slowly but surely we are headed toward the solution that I have been advocating for years: KILL ILLEGAL ALIENS AS THEY CROSS INTO THE U.S. When the stench of rotting corpses gets bad enough, the rest will stay away." -- New Jersey Racist radio talk show host Hal Turner, October 31, 2005.

• "We now have another game animal to add to our list of available targets for our favorite pastime, hunting, and we'll declare permanent OPEN SEASON on these dirty wetbacks! From what I've heard through the grapevine the Skinheads and Klans across the country are more than prepared for this type of action. I say let's play by state and see which state can claim the most kills and let the jewsmedia whores keep score!" – Web site of Aryan Nations faction leader August Kreis, October 2005.

• "They (Hispanics) are barbarians, they are our enemies, they want to destroy our civilization and we have to fight them. We need to organize better and be more open activists; otherwise, I only see race war in the future – post by "AllisioRex"on the neo-Nazi Web forum, Stormfront, July 2005.

Aside from racist rhetoric against Hispanics, white supremacists also have been urging each other and white Americans as a whole to "fight back" against the perceived "invasion" of the U.S. by organizing explicitly anti-immigration counter-protests and events. The ADL report notes, for example, that White Revolution, an Arkansas-based neo-Nazi group, asked its followers to participate in a national "Anti-Invasion Day" on April 10, 2006 in response to pro-immigrant marches planned for that day.

"The rhetoric we are seeing about Hispanics is downright scary," said Mr. Foxman. "While these sentiments are often relegated to the private chat rooms, blogs and message boards maintained by hate groups, it only takes one individual with hate in his heart to act on these notions. For us, that is a very real concern as the national discussion on immigration continues to gain momentum."

The Violence: Growing Number of Assaults

The past several years have seen a growing number of violent assaults and attacks by white supremacists against legal and illegal Hispanic immigrants, as well as Hispanic American citizens, with crimes ranging from vandalism to brutal assaults and murders. In most cases the perpetrators did not even know the victims, but targeted them solely because of their appearance.

Some examples include:

• November 2005, Texas: Christopher Chubasco Wilkins, a prison escapee, was recaptured and charged with murdering three men in the Fort Worth area during his month-long escape. Wilkins, who according to police is a self-proclaimed white separatist, is alleged to have shot and killed two Hispanic men and one African-American man.

• October 2005, California: A Sacramento man and two other suspects were arrested and charged with allegedly attacking and injuring six people in a hate-crime spree at two local parties. One of the alleged perpetrators was charged with using brass knuckles after shouting epithets against Hispanics and proclaiming "white pride" at a party.

• September 2005, Utah: A federal judge sentenced Lance Vanderstappen to 20 years in prison for trying to kill a Hispanic man while in a holding cell in July 2005. The victim had stab wounds to his neck, throat and chest. At a court appearance Vanderstappen, a member of the notorious Soldiers of Aryan Culture white supremacist prison gang, admitted that he targeted the victim because he was Hispanic.

• May 2005, Arizona: White Supremacist Steve Boggs received the death sentence for murdering three fast-food workers in Mesa, Arizona during a robbery in 2002. Boggs wrote to a Mesa police detective that he wanted to "rid the world of a few needless illegals."

The ADL Action Agenda

To face this emerging new threat, ADL leaders and Cecilia Muñoz, Vice President for Public Policy of the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S., stood together in Washington, D.C. to outline a broad public policy Action Agenda, encompassing the following points:

• Congress must reform our nation's broken immigration system in a manner that is comprehensive and will serve our security, humanitarian, and economic interests. The current system has created a vulnerable underclass of people living in our communities who lack meaningful rights under our law and are subject to exploitation. This situation creates fodder for extremist groups. Both the tenor and outcome of the reform debate will speak volumes about how we embrace diversity in our own communities and welcome foreigners in our society.

• Law enforcement officials must be prepared to vigorously investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute criminal threats of violence and incitement – including those transmitted over the Internet. Americans deeply value and appreciate the importance of the First Amendment to our Constitution in protecting the speech of all in our pluralistic society. But free speech is not absolute, and criminal threats and incitement should never be ignored.

• Local law enforcement officials should not be tasked to investigate and enforce civil immigration laws. Any effort to direct local police to both "serve and protect" the community and pursue and detain illegal aliens may undermine the trust necessary for local law enforcement officers to perform their job effectively within immigrant communities.

• Congress and the Administration should enact measures and implement school anti-bias education programs which promote civility and acceptance of differences in our society.

• Politicians and civic leaders should never engage in divisive appeals based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion. Especially as election season heats up, political leaders must set the tone for civil national discourse and play a productive role in shaping attitudes in opposition to all forms of stereotyping and bigotry. Members of Congress and administration officials must avoid demagoguery and should instead seek opportunities to speak out against bigotry, intolerance, and prejudice in our society.

• Civic leaders must exercise national leadership. National leaders from every sector of society – including government, business, labor, religion, and education – should use their prestige and influence to encourage efforts to promote tolerance and harmony and to combat bigotry.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Evacuee TAKS scores prompt concern

April 25, 2006, 11:55PM

Evacuee TAKS scores prompt concern
Many stand to repeat 5th grade if they don't pass math and reading tests by summer

Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

Fifth-graders who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina are lagging even further behind in math than on reading, leaving some educators worried that hundreds of Texas' newest pupils may have to repeat the grade.

Only 45 percent of the 2,396 fifth-grade Katrina evacuees who took the math Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills this month passed, compared with 82 percent of the Texas students, according to statewide results released Tuesday by the Texas Education Agency.

Last month, 47 percent of the Louisiana students enrolled in Texas passed the reading test, compared with an overall passing rate of 80 percent.

"Unfortunately, I don't think it'll be in the best interest of these students for a grade-level committee to pass them along," said Alief school board President Sarah Winkler. "You can't make up two to three years in a semester. I don't care if you're a magician, it can't happen ... But we're going to try."

The gap was slightly wider in some Houston-area districts, including Spring Branch. Only 42 percent of the Katrina pupils in that district passed the math portion, compared with 90 percent of other students.

Fifth-graders are required to pass both the math and reading portions by the summer to be promoted.

"There are some who really have to show some improvement between now and late June, or they run the risk of being held back," TEA spokeswoman Debbie Graves Ratcliffe said. "The reality is, some of these children will spend an extra year in a public school — here or someplace."

If a pupil hasn't passed the reading or math portions on the second try, a grade-placement committee of the child's teacher, principal and at least one parent is formed to develop an action plan.

If the child fails on the third and final attempt, a parent can appeal the child's automatic retention to the committee, which would then need to vote unanimously in order to promote the child.

Tutoring programs

In 2003-04, only 1 percent of fifth-graders in Texas were retained, Ratcliffe said.

Area school leaders said they will make every effort to make sure the Louisiana students pass by the third try in late June.

"We've said from the beginning, we don't think there's a better place the evacuees could have landed than in Houston, Texas," HISD spokesman Terry Abbott said. "Obviously, it is taking a tremendous effort and will continue to do so until the summer ... The good thing is, we have tremendously educated people who make it their business to help kids."

The Houston Independent School District and several other area districts did not release their math scores Tuesday, saying they were still analyzing results and calculating the passing rates of Katrina students.

Since more than 40,000 displaced students arrived in Texas last year, schools have been rushing to create tutoring and remediation programs to help those who may be lagging behind.

They've been lobbying for grants, donations and federal funding to try to finance the extra programs.

"The data speaks for itself. But rather than throw up our hands in despair, we choose to give all students an opportunity to succeed — irrespective of their origin or length of time in district," Aldine school board President Rick Ogden said.

Educators will spend the next few weeks focusing on the content areas in which students struggled, including probability, statistics and algebraic reasoning for fifth-graders.

Because curricula vary so much, the TAKS may include topics that students from Louisiana have not yet covered, educators said. They added that those students may have mastered other topics that Texas students haven't yet covered.

"Pacing can be different from state to state. What we're working on now is filling in the gaps," Alief spokeswoman Susan Castro said.

In Alief, 46 percent of Katrina fifth-graders passed the math test, compared with 77 percent of the others.

The district is working with some area nonprofit groups to create a summer day camp to help Katrina students improve their math and reading skills. Alief officials also have purchased extra books and computer programs.

"We've got children and families that are willing to work, and we're certainly going to do everything we can," Castro said.

Statewide this year, Texas fifth-graders' scores improved by 2 percentage points on the math test. Fifth-graders have made dramatic gains in that portion of the TAKS since it debuted in 2003, even though the standard for passing also has been raised.

In 2003, when students had to answer 24 of the 44 questions correctly to pass, 79 percent of them did so. This year, with 34 correct answers required, 82 percent of Texas students passed.

This article is:

The Immigration Impasse

Thoughtful opinion by the editors of the New York Times. -Angela

April 25, 2006
The Immigration Impasse

If there ever was a moment in the debate over immigration when presidential leadership was urgently needed, it was yesterday, when Congress returned from its two-week intermission with the Senate's short-lived compromise in tatters. But all President Bush offered was a restatement of the painfully obvious and a bunch of bland generalities.

In the last installment of this melodrama, Senate leaders failed to find the courage to foil the Republicans who had lighted the fuse on amendments intended to blow apart a pale and fragile compromise. Meanwhile, nervous and defensive Democrats wrapped the bill tightly in a procedural blanket.

Mr. Bush might have thought he was answering lawmakers' pleas for help when he informed an audience in California that mass deportations wouldn't work. That's a sensible — if fairly obvious — generality. But this is a moment for specifics. The president could have argued forcefully for comprehensive reform and spelled out the distinction that the Senate has drawn between an earned route to legalization and the detested free ride of amnesty. Instead, he blandly labeled the Senate compromise an "interesting approach," as if he were pondering a piece of modern art rather than the fate of something central to his domestic agenda.

The pieces of comprehensive reform are in place: tighter borders and stricter enforcement of employment laws, more visas for temporary workers, and a path to citizenship for many of the 11 million to 12 million people who are here illegally. But the ingredients of an endless stalemate are there, too, nurtured by a Republican hard core that blindly insists that there are only two things to do with illegal immigrants: exploit them or expel them.

The Senate's latest immigration bill is an awkward, unappetizing compromise, which would shut out many newer immigrants and impose daunting red-tape hurdles on the rest. But at least it remains wrapped around a vital principle: the option of citizenship for those in the shadow population who want and deserve to become Americans.

Senator Arlen Specter, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, says his panel will take up immigration immediately, and he insists that a majority in the Senate support comprehensive reform. But it's not clear how willing the majority leader, Bill Frist, is to stand up to those in his party's right wing who want to enshrine police-state enforcement as the beginning and the end of immigration strategy.

Comprehensive reform will also mean ensuring that if a decent bill is passed by the Senate, it will not be destroyed later when the House and Senate negotiate privately over their different measures. Supporters of comprehensive reform deserve a guarantee that a conference committee will not include senators who are eager to shred good legislation to reconcile it with the xenophobic bill passed in December by the House. And Mr. Bush needs to signal the House that he is behind the Senate's approach.

With elections looming, there are many who are content to confine the immigration debate to a netherworld of bumper stickers and T-shirt slogans, where remedies are simplistic and short-term. The Republican National Committee, after all, has begun broadcasting lies on Spanish-language radio in the Southwest. The ads accuse the Democrats of supporting efforts to turn illegal immigrants into felons, when the opposite is true.

With a strong push from Mr. Bush, the tardy Mr. Frist could guide this wearying saga to a better ending. Millions are watching, and waiting.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


There are powerful forces pushing for this kind of schooling. It's clear that this will work for some children. Any prescription for schooling generally that takes the teacher out of the picture--as well as other school-based relationships with adults--is neither humanizing nor an ultimate panacea. In Freirian terms, this parallels the banking concept of education where that which is taught is presented as a fixed, objective body of knowledge rather than the outcome of politics, compromises and negotiations between interests of varying degrees of power. Accordingly, I offer this quote by Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University:

"America's capacity to survive as a democracy relies not only on the provision for free public education; it rests on the kind of education that arms people with an intelligence capable of free and independent thinking." --Darling-Hammond.


April 25, 2006, 6:57AM
Pilot electronic education projects debut here
HISD planning to launch program for 200 students in coming months

Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

At 8 years of age, Brian Reynolds barely has time for school. The brown-haired, freckle-faced boy spends 15 hours a week playing golf and at least five hours a week in music lessons. He's active in his church, just graduated from the Cub Scouts and spends stretches overseas visiting family in Ireland.

For the Reynolds family, a new state-approved "virtual school" offered through a Houston charter school was a perfect match. Brian's parents pulled him out of the gifted-and-talented program at the Houston school district's Briargrove Elementary this year to enroll him in the Southwest School's Texas Virtual Academy.

"He, at first, really missed going on the playground, but I think he's accomplishing so much more," said his mother, Lynn Reynolds.

Brian must spend 30 hours a week on schoolwork, but is required to show up in person only to take the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test, freeing up his schedule to travel and participate in junior golf tournaments.

The Southwest School is the first of five programs in Texas to launch under a pilot approved by state lawmakers in 2003. The Houston, Coleman, Fort Davis and Iraan-Sheffield school districts also are developing "electronic course pilots" that are expected to begin soon.

HISD officials hope to launch their program for 200 students in the next few months. While the details are not final, the program is expected to offer a broad range of math, science, language and other classes to middle- and high-school students, district spokesman Terry Abbott said.

Some critics worry that virtual schools — piloted twice before in Texas — are just a way to filter tax dollars to private companies and families that otherwise would home school their children. They've dubbed them "virtual vouchers" and say they drain resources from traditional brick-and-mortar campuses.

"This is, more or less, subsidies to home schoolers to make money when the program has no proven benefits and high costs," said Karen Miller, a resident of the Cypress-Fairbanks district who has testified against virtual school legislation in the past five years.

Advocates, however, said the technology may help reach students with special needs, such as athletes, pregnant students and potential dropouts. High-tech education options are the wave of the future, they say.

"There's no question it can be done very well," said Kate Loughrey, director of distance learning for the Texas Education Agency. "I think online learning holds a great deal of promise for the state of Texas."

Janelle James, chief operating officer of the Southwest School, said her school's program has built-in accountability such as state-required testing and end-of-course exams.

"This is not home school," she said. "There's a whole lot that's different."

The Southwest School hired K12, a for-profit, Virginia-based company founded in 1999 by former U.S. Education Secretary William J. Bennett, to create and manage its program. The school pays the company about 80 percent of the $4,750 in state funding it receives per student.

James said K12 has created a program that should put to rest any quality or accountability concerns critics may have.

"Being first is nice, but doing it right is better," she said. "It was not easy to do this and to get it from conception to fruition. That was a lot of effort and a lot of work."

The Southwest School, which opened its first campus in 1999, now has 1,600 students spread out among prekindergarten, elementary, secondary and residential treatment facilities. The school was rated "academically acceptable" by the state in 2005.

When students sign up for the Texas Virtual Academy, K12 Inc. ships nearly a dozen boxes of books and supplies to their homes. Everything for the year — from jump-ropes for physical education to vegetable seeds for science projects — is included.

Placement testing

Each student also is loaned a computer and provided a stipend for Internet access, if needed. Tests help place students in the appropriate courses, which may be above or below their actual grade level.
Lynn Reynolds said she was surprised when the diagnostic tests showed that Brian — a straight-A pupil — was struggling in geography. His skills have sharpened in the few weeks he's been studying at their southwest Houston home in the Texas Virtual Academy, she said.

"He's actually learned a lot more," she said. "I was surprised about what he didn't know."

Brian — and the 90 other third- through sixth-graders who have signed up in the Virtual Academy's first month of operation — can log on in their pajamas early in the morning or finish lessons before bed time.

Teachers check in with students regularly through e-mails, phone calls and semi-monthly conference calls. They also can track how much time students spend online, what lessons they have completed and what grades they have earned.

While it is not required, students are asked to attend monthly field trips and take TAKS preparatory classes.

Under the program, Brian's teacher oversees about 60 students a day — nearly three times the normal elementary load. Brian said he had mixed feelings about attending the virtual school, but is mostly enjoying it.

"There's a lot of bad things, like not being able to see your friends every day," he said. "But I like the work. I like science, for sure."

Brock Gregg, governmental relations director for the Association of Texas Professional Educators, said he worries about how this type of impersonal schooling will affect children.

"We'll be watching very closely," he said. "It may work, but I think we should move very slowly and not expand this program until we can prove the young children learn just as quickly and just as well this way."

State school board member David Bradley, a Republican who represents southeast Texas, said he supports broadening parents' options.

"To me, it looks like an opportunity for school choice," Bradley said. "I'd also like to see a pilot program to allow true school choice — vouchers."

State officials are asking for an extension to continue the program a year past the August 2006 deadline. Because of budget cuts and the effort to create these curricula, four of the five pilots haven't yet begun.

Still, Loughrey said she thinks the pilot program — along with two conducted a few years ago — have put Texas on the verge of creating a policy that will allow virtual schools to grow.

"Sometime over the course of the next year or two, we will have a very solid idea and recommendation on the best way to move forward," she said. "As a state we're moving forward at a pretty good clip."

Construction of Family Detention Center in Texas & Curricular resources on immigrants and education

In addition to the educator guide provided below, here is another great resource by Bill Bigelow of RETHINKING SCHOOLS, titled, The Line Between Us: Teaching About the Border and Immigration.

It’s getting really scary for families right now with rumors of raids at local establishments where immigrants congregate, including Home Depot, HEB, El Gran Mercado Market, Fiesta, and Wal-mart. In light of the following news account on a situation that turned chaotic here locally [click here], at least some of this is perceived to be occurring.

In any case, given the existence of these plans for the construction of a family detention center near Austin [click here], concerns about raids are quite legitimate. Our local consulate advises the following:

> 1. Tell the students they are safe.
> 2. That they have right to not answer questions and to request to speak to attorney if they get picked up.
> 3. Contact the consulado for help at 478-2866 ext 106, especially if one of their family members was picked up.

If you are aware of any victims of border patrol sweeps in public establishments—as opposed to their workplaces—get their names and contact information to your local MALDEF office. The Latino civil rights community—including Dolores Huerta who expressed this much recently on NPR—is communicating their concerns to immigrants about the May 1st work boycott, primarily because the civil rights community will find it difficult to protect workers who get fired or who otherwise experience retaliation from bosses. MALDEF provides helpful action-oriented suggestions for undocumented immigrants at the following website.

In my mind, this places a special burden on those of us who can participate in the boycott , to do so in their place. As suggested herein, educators should also demonstrate sensitivity, awareness, and even leadership regarding the complexity of issues surrounding undocumented immigration.

Paz y solidaridad,


The New York Collective of Radical Educators Presents...

No Human is Illegal:
An Educator’s Guide for Addressing Immigration In the Classroom

Please Help Us Get This to Educators Everywhere

Download Guide for free at

In the recent weeks HR4437 advocates have sought to introduce
legislation that will radically change the legal, social, and
economic status of immigrant communities in the United States. The
debate rages on and we have heard the opinions ranging from the
conservatives to the democrats to the left˜and a powerful
constituency has emerged stronger than ever before in the 21st
century˜students. How will educators encourage these acts of
critical thinking, civic responsibility, agency, and above all˜
student leadership in advocating for all human rights? How can
educators engage their students in these critical issues in the
classroom? How can we serve as the liaison between students and the
mixed messages the media and politicians are sending? The debate over
immigrant rights in the United States, the supposed ╲land of the
free and home of the brave╡, will continue to increase in intensity
and will peak on May 1st ­ with the Great American Boycott.
NYCoRE has organized two strategies to encourage teachers to bridge
their activism both inside and outside of the classroom.

1) The No Human Is Illegal Resource Guide: This guide is for
educators to take on the important issues that teachers and students
alike have been tackling in their activism from INSIDE the
classroom. This resource can be best used online as a web resource.
The links and topics will be relevant long past the next few marches
and protests.

2) Join NYCoRE at the Great American Boycott march on May 1st:
NYCoRE will be meeting between 3:45 and 4:15 pm in front of the
Barnes and Nobles on Union Square. Look for the NYCoRE sign and join

Let us join voices as teachers, students, and community members to
oppose this anti-immigrant, anti-human legislation! As teachers we
can do so in the classroom and in the streets!

Download Guide for free at

The New York Collective of Radical Educators Presents...

No Human is Illegal:
An Educator‚s Guide for Addressing Immigration In the Classroom

Please Help Us Get This to Educators Everywhere

In the recent weeks HR4437 advocates have sought to introduce legislation that will radically change the legal, social, and economic status of immigrant communities in the United States. The debate rages on and we have heard the opinions ranging from the conservatives to the democrats to the left˜and a powerful constituency has emerged stronger than ever before in the 21st century˜students. How will educators encourage these acts of critical thinking, civic responsibility, agency, and above all˜ student leadership in advocating for all human rights? How can educators engage their students in these critical issues in the classroom? How can we serve as the liaison between students and the mixed messages the media and politicians are sending? The debate over immigrant rights in the United States, the supposed „land of the free and home of the brave‰, will continue to increase in intensity and will peak on May 1st ˆ with the Great American Boycott.

NYCoRE has organized two strategies to encourage teachers to bridge their activism both inside and outside of the classroom.

1) The No Human Is Illegal Resource Guide: This guide is for educators to take on the important issues that teachers and students alike have been tackling in their activism from INSIDE the classroom. This resource can be best used online as a web resource. The links and topics will be relevant long past the next few marches and protests.
2) Join NYCoRE at the Great American Boycott march on May 1st: NYCoRE will be meeting between 3:45 and 4:15 pm in front of the Barnes and Nobles on Union Square. Look for the NYCoRE sign and join us!!!

Let us join voices as teachers, students, and community members to oppose this anti-immigrant, anti-human legislation! As teachers we can do so in the classroom and in the streets!

House approves new tax on business

April 25, 2006, 1:47AM

House approves new tax on business
Legislators also OK separate bill to tap the surplus for small tax cut

Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau

AUSTIN - The Texas House Monday night approved a sweeping new business tax that is the cornerstone of Gov. Rick Perry's proposal to cut school property taxes and meet a June 1 court deadline for avoiding a potential shutdown of public schools.


The $3 billion measure will now go to the Senate, with supporters hoping the two chambers will finally be able to agree on a tax overhaul. Four previous efforts in the past two years failed.

"The (tax) system is broken. It's time to fix it. This is a fair bill," said Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton, a co-sponsor of the measure that passed 80-68.

But Democrats attacked it as underfunded and complained that it wouldn't raise any additional funding for the public schools.

"It is the largest tax bill in Texas history, and it doesn't give one penny to the public schools," said Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco.

A procedural problem with the proposed $1 per pack cigarette tax hike caused it to be sent back to the Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.

Perry wants to use the expanded business tax, an increase in the state cigarette tax and a portion of the budgetary surplus to cut school operating taxes by about one-third over the next two years.

The House also approved another bill, a fallback measure, that would pay for smaller cuts in school taxes by simply using a portion of the budget surplus and not raising state taxes. The sponsor said it would meet the Texas Supreme Court's order for changes in the state's school finance system

Dozens of amendments

Several dozen amendments, many proposing special tax breaks for an assortment of industries, were offered to the business tax bill. Most were withdrawn or defeated, but one amendment, an accounting provision designed to soften the financial blow for current payers of the franchise tax, could cost as much as $40 million in tax collections in the first year.
Altogether, Speaker Tom Craddick said, amendments that were adopted cut $58 million from the $3.45 billion that the bill, as approved by the House Ways and Means Committee, would have raised for the governor's proposed property tax buy-down.

The bill would replace the loophole-ridden corporate franchise tax with an expanded tax applying to all corporations and limited liability partnerships with more than $300,000 in annual revenue.

As such, it would bring many law firms and other professional service providers under the state business tax for the first time.

GOP lawmakers had been under heavy pressure from conservative, limited government groups not to enact new taxes to pay for a property tax cut. And many Democrats were opposed to the business tax because all of the revenue would be dedicated to property tax reductions, rather than providing a new funding source for education.

The House adopted 141-1 an amendment to prohibit companies from deducting the costs of hiring undocumented immigrants from their taxable income. The provision also would give the state comptroller the authority to enforce the restriction.

Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, the amendment's sponsor and the son of immigrants, said he was attempting to crack down on the "thousands and thousands" of Texas businesses that hire illegal workers.

"Without a demand, there's really no supply," he said.

"I'm tired of hearing the demagoguery out in the marketplace," he said, referring to the current political debate over immigration. "Unfortunately, it's Texas business that is breaking the law on a daily basis."

Otto questioned how effectively the state would be able to enforce the provision, but only Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, voted against it.

The bill would allow a company to deduct either its compensation or production costs from its gross receipts. Wholesalers and retailers would be taxed at one-half of 1 percent on the remaining base. Other companies would pay a 1 percent tax.

All sole proprietors and general partnerships and other companies with less than $300,000 in annual revenues would be exempt.

The House adopted an amendment by Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, that would remove the tax liability from any company owing less than $1,000 in taxes a year.

Rep. Corbin Van Arsdale, R-Tomball, won approval of a provision that would require Texas voters to approve any subsequent increase in the new business tax rate.

The House voted 146-2 to approve a safety net bill that could allow the schools to remain open if Perry's tax plan fails to pass. House Bill 1 would use $2.4 billion of the state's $8.2 billion surplus to cut school operating taxes by 11 percent.

Bill sponsor, Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, said the tax cut would meet the minimum requirements set by the Texas Supreme Court, which found the current school tax system unconstitutional.

Final passage is expected today.

Perry has dubbed the bill the "get outta Dodge" plan because it could allow lawmakers to enact a short-term fix without the broader tax restructuring the governor wants.

The vote on Chisum's bill came after several hours of debate, during which the House stripped a controversial provision that could have allowed a few wealthy districts to keep all of any additional taxes levied for local enrichment.

Two Houston Democrats, Reps. Garnet Coleman and Harold Dutton, voted against the fallback bill.

Coleman said it would not do anything to improve the schools.

Chisum's bill would lower school operating taxes by about 17 cents per $100 valuation.

Local school boards could raise them three cents this year and as much as 14 cents next year with voter approval.

Higher tax on cigarettes

That tax reduction is only about one-third of what the governor is seeking.
Perry's deeper, proposed cuts are dependent on passage of the business taxes and higher cigarette taxes, which would go up by $1 a pack.

The House approved another measure — part of a five-piece package of tax legislation — that will dedicate all the revenue from the higher state taxes to pay for the school tax cuts.

Another bill is designed to make sure that buyers of used cars don't lie about the purchase price when calculating sales tax.

It would use the vehicle's "blue book" value as the basis for determining tax.

This article is:

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Flow of migrants unaffected by debate in U.S.

I know I deviate from education when I cover immigration, but at least in an indirect manner, it informs trends that will certain impact our educational system. -Angela

Flow of migrants unaffected by debate in U.S.
Immigration discussion has not yet produced rush from Central America to U.S.

By Jeremy Schwartz
Saturday, April 22, 2006

MEXICO CITY — When Victor, a 20-year-old Honduran migrant, struck out from his home a month ago for the United States, he had no clue that he was trying to cross the border in the midst of a roiling debate over illegal immigration.

Upon arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, he was heartened to see massive demonstrations of undocumented immigrants on the news. But he's been more focused on trying to cross the Rio Grande.

"I've been preoccupied," said Victor, who is staying at a shelter in the city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, and asked that his last name not be used. "I haven't been able to pay a lot of attention."

In Mexico, experts and observers say the immigration debate in the United States and potential reforms have not yet produced what many expected to be a rush of immigrants to the border. Instead they say, the availability of jobs and weather on the border continue to have more influence on decisions to migrate.

"The flow is continuing as normal," said Fray Carlos Amado, director of a shelter for migrants in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, across the river from El Paso. "The discussion (on immigration reform) will have an impact when they cross, depending on how it goes, but it doesn't affect the decision they take. At least the people who are passing through here, many of them don't even know about this debate."

In Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, observers say the promise of immigration reform, or the threat of more border enforcement, has yet to have an impact.

"It's definitely not changing the migratory flow," said Rebeca Rodriguez of the Center for Border Studies and Promotion of Human Rights. "This is what we see day by day."

Although it's nearly impossible to gauge with certainty the number of migrants crossing the border illegally, U.S. Border Patrol arrests can give a rough clue.

For the fiscal year starting in October, apprehensions are up 7 percent along the southern border from last year. But for the first 16 days of April, during the height of street protests and congressional discussion in the United States, apprehensions fell about 14 percent compared with 2005, from 78,379 to 67,288.

A Border Patrol spokeswoman attributed the drop to safety campaigns in Mexico. The time period also coincided with the Christian Holy Week, which may have reduced the number of migrants leaving home.

Deborah Meyers, a researcher at the nonprofit Migration Policy Institute in Washington D.C., said it's too early to conclude whether the debate is having an effect on illegal immigration. People may wait to see how things shake out or they may accelerate their journey, hoping to qualify for amnesty or arrive before a new wall is built.

"But there's a strong argument to be made that illegal immigration has little to do with American policy," Meyers said. "It's the networks that drive migration: people here telling people at home about the reform or about a job."

Find this article at:

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Campaign Targets Perceived Liberal Bias in Schools

Our universities do possess an important function. They are some of the few remaining spaces where controversial issues of left- as well as right-leaning persuasion may be addressed. Clearly, we as academics need to elaborate fully what we want and mean by academic freedom; or else it's going to get defined for us as this piece suggests. -Angela

April 19, 2006
Campaign Targets Perceived Liberal Bias in Schools
By Sean Cavanagh

Having witnessed what they regard as the corruption of colleges by liberals and left-leaning academics, conservative activists say they are launching a venture to eliminate any such bias from the nation’s public schools.

“It’s a campaign we’re beginning today,” said the author David Horowitz, who helped organize an April 7 conference to promote those plans. “This is a very large grassroots movement waiting to happen.”

The conference here was hosted by Students for Academic Freedom, a division of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, a Los Angeles-based organization that advocates conservative views among students and the public at large. Mr. Horowitz, the center’s president, said the attendees’ long-term goal is to keep ideological agendas, which they believe have become pervasive on college campuses, from taking hold in K-12 schools, too.

Mr. Horowitz said those involved in the effort are fighting both liberal and conservative bias in education. But many of the speakers at the event complained most vociferously about the influence of left-leaning administrators and teachers. Several college students recalled what they said were attempts by professors, campus administrators, and their former high school educators to promote liberal positions and downplay conservative views.

Organizers of the event presented an award to Sean Allen, a 16-year-old high school student from Aurora, Colo., who became immersed in controversy over alleged political bias in one of his classes. The student made a tape recording of highly critical comments one of his teachers made about President Bush in a 10th grade geography class, an incident that drew national attention earlier this year.

Mr. Horowitz said public schools have a fiduciary responsibility to present lessons objectively because they are financed by taxpayers, unlike, for instance, private colleges. Public anger over political one-sidedness in classes will only rise, he said.

School officials, “out of pure self-interest,” should acquaint themselves “with the principles of academic freedom,” Mr. Horowitz told conference attendees.

Legislation Pursued

Bradley Shipp, the national field director for Students for Academic Freedom, said his organization hopes to encourage state legislators to introduce measures to encourage schools to guarantee objectivity in classroom lessons.

Critics of such proposals are likely to complain—wrongly, in his view—that those measures would restrict speech, Mr. Shipp said in an interview. Those charges will prove to be unfounded, he said, because his organization will encourage lawmakers to introduce nonbinding resolutions to raise public awareness of potential classroom bias.

One legislator who attended the conference, state Rep. Samuel E. Rohrer, a Republican from Pennsylvania, said he planned to call for hearings later this year on political leanings in K-12 schools. Mr. Rohrer chairs an education subcommittee.

See Also
Read the related story, “Students Continue to Fuel Activism on Immigration Policy.”
According to Mr. Horowitz, political bias in schools has been obvious in recent large-scale protests over proposals aimed at curbing illegal immigration. Thousands of students have walked out of their schools to take part in those events, actions that were tolerated, and even encouraged, by some teachers and administrators, Mr. Horowitz said. ("Students Sound Off on Immigration," April 5, 2006.)

Mr. Horowitz has written frequently about his transformation from a 1960s-era radical leftist to a political conservative. He is a frequent commentator on television and campuses today. His recent book Uncivil Wars “chronicles his crusade against intolerance” in academia, according to a biographical description of his work.

Teachers’ Colleges Eyed
Others, however, say recent evidence suggests a push by people on the right, not the left, to influence public schools.

Jeremy K. Leaming, a spokesman for the Washington-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State, noted the wave of state and local challenges to the teaching of evolution in science classes and the attempts to promote “intelligent design,” the idea that an unnamed creator shaped life’s development. ("Legislators Debate Bills on the Teaching of Evolution," April 5, 2006.)

“I don’t think you’d call those liberal actions,” Mr. Leaming said in an interview.

Sol Stern, who spoke at the Washington conference, took particular aim at teachers’ colleges. Some, he said, promote a slant to the left in their curricula, and through the discussion of “social justice” topics, which, as Mr. Stern sees it, favor political liberalism.

But Arthur E. Wise, the president of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, said those fears were exaggerated. Mr. Wise said his Washington-based group, in a 2004 survey of about 60 teachers’ colleges, found that only a “small minority” of them emphasized social justice as part of their mission. NCATE accredits colleges of teacher education.

Generally speaking, social- justice concepts are most prevalent at education schools at religiously oriented institutions, Mr. Wise said, such as those with Roman Catholic and evangelical affiliations. Different schools, however, were likely to have different notions of what the term meant, he noted.

Mr. Wise scoffed at the idea of a liberal predisposition in teachers’ colleges nationwide, saying those schools were unlikely to follow any political orthodoxy.

“They pride themselves on the uniqueness of their missions,” he said.

PHOTO: Sean Allen, a student who drew national attention after he recorded his teacher criticizing President Bush, helps kick off an effort to keep political one-sidedness out of K-12.

—Susan Walsh/AP
Vol. 25, Issue 32, Pages 5,18

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

States omit minorities' school scores

The problem is that even when you're counted, you still don't really count. -Angela

States omit minorities' school scores
By Nicole Ziegler Dizon, Ben Feller and Frank Bass, Associated Press Writers | April 18, 2006

Laquanya Agnew and Victoria Duncan share a desk, a love of reading and a passion for learning. But because of a loophole in the No Child Left Behind Act, one second-grader's score in Tennessee counts more than the other's. That is because Laquanya is black, and Victoria is white.

An Associated Press computer analysis has found Laquanya is among nearly 2 million children whose scores aren't counted when it comes to meeting the law's requirement that schools track how students of different races perform on standardized tests.

The AP found that states are helping public schools escape potential penalties by skirting that requirement. And minorities -- who historically haven't fared as well as whites in testing -- make up the vast majority of students whose scores are excluded.

The Education Department said that while it is pleased that nearly 25 million students nationwide are now being tested regularly under the law, it is concerned that the AP found so many students aren't being counted by schools in the required racial categories.

"Is it too many? You bet," Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said in an interview. "Are there things we need to do to look at that, batten down the hatches, make sure those kids are part of the system? You bet."

The plight of the two second-graders shows how a loophole in the law is allowing schools to count fewer minorities in required racial categories.

There are about 220 students at West View Elementary School in Knoxville, Tenn., where President Bush marked the second anniversary of the law's enactment in 2004. Tennessee schools have federal permission to exclude students' scores in required racial categories if there are fewer than 45 students in a group.

There are more than 45 white students. Victoria counts.

There are fewer than 45 black students. Laquanya does not.

One of the consequences is that educators are creating a false picture of academic progress.

"We're forcing districts and states to play games because the system is so broken, and that's not going to help at all," said Kathy Escamilla, a University of Colorado education professor. "Those are little games to prevent showing what's going on."

Under the law signed by Bush in 2002, all public school students must be proficient in reading and math by 2014, although only children above second grade are required to be tested.

Schools receiving federal poverty aid also must demonstrate annually that students in all racial categories are progressing or risk penalties that include extending the school year, changing curriculum or firing administrators and teachers.

The law requires public schools to test more than 25 million students periodically in reading and math. No scores can be excluded from a school's overall measure.

But the schools also must report scores by categories, such as race, poverty, migrant status, English proficiency and special education. Failure in any category means the whole school fails.

States are helping schools get around that second requirement by using a loophole in the law that allows them to ignore scores of racial groups that are too small to be statistically significant.

Suppose, for example, that a school has 2,000 white students and nine Hispanics. In nearly every state, the Hispanic scores wouldn't be counted because there aren't enough to provide meaningful information and because officials want to protect students' privacy.

State educators decide when a group is too small to count. And they've been asking the government for exemptions to exclude larger numbers of students in racial categories. Nearly two dozen states have successfully petitioned the government for such changes in the past two years. As a result, schools can now ignore racial breakdowns even when they have 30, 40 or even 50 students of a given race in the testing population.

Students must be tested annually in grades 3 through 8 and at least once in high school, usually in 10th grade. This is the first school year that students in all those grades must be tested, though schools have been reporting scores by race for the tests they have been administering since the law was approved.

To calculate a nationwide estimate, the AP analyzed the 2003-04 enrollment figures the government collected -- the latest on record -- and applied the current racial category exemptions the states use.

Overall, the AP found that about 1.9 million students -- or about 1 in every 14 test scores -- aren't being counted under the law's racial categories. Minorities are seven times as likely to have their scores excluded as whites, the analysis showed.

Less than 2 percent of white children's scores aren't being counted as a separate category. In contrast, Hispanics and blacks have roughly 10 percent of their scores excluded. More than one-third of Asian scores and nearly half of American Indian scores aren't broken out, AP found.

Bush's home state of Texas -- once cited as a model for the federal law -- excludes scores for two entire groups. No test scores from Texas' 65,000 Asian students or from several thousand American Indian students are broken out by race. The same is true in Arkansas.

Students whose tests aren't being counted in required categories also include Hispanics in California who don't speak English well, blacks in the Chicago suburbs, American Indians in the Northwest and special education students in Virginia.

State educators defend the exemptions, saying minority students' performance is still being included in their schools' overall statistics even when they aren't being counted in racial categories. Excluded minority students' scores may be counted at the district or state level.

Spellings said she believes educators are making a good-faith effort. "Are there people out there who will find ways to game the system?" she asked. "Of course. But on the whole ... I fully believe in my heart, mind and soul that educators are people of good will who care about kids and want them to find opportunity in schools."

Bush has hailed the separate accounting of minority students as a vital feature of the law. "It's really essential we do that. It's really important," Bush said in a May 2004 speech. "If you don't do that, you're likely to leave people behind. And that's not right."

Nonetheless, Bush's Education Department continues to give widely varying exemptions to states:

--Oklahoma lets schools exclude the test scores from any racial category with 52 or fewer members in the testing population, one of the largest across-the-board exemptions. That means 1 in 5 children in the state don't have scores broken out by race.

--Maryland, which tests about 150,000 students more than Oklahoma, has an exempt group size of just five. That means fewer than 1 in 100 don't have scores counted.

--Washington state has made 18 changes to its testing plan, according to a February report by the Harvard Civil Rights Project. Vermont has made none. On average, states have made eight changes at either the state or federal level to their plans in the past five years, usually changing the size or accountability of subgroups whose scores were supposed to be counted.

Toia Jones, a black teacher whose daughters attend school in a mostly white Chicago suburb, said the loophole is enabling states and schools to avoid taking concrete measures to eliminate an "achievement gap" between white and minority students.

"With this loophole, it's almost like giving someone a trick bag to get out of a hole," she said. "Now people, instead of figuring out how do we really solve it, some districts, in order to save face or in order to not be faced with the sanctions, they're doing what they can to manipulate the data."

Some students feel left behind, too.

"It's terrible," said Michael Oshinaya, a senior at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in New York City who was among a group of black students whose scores weren't broken out as a racial category. "We're part of America. We make up America, too. We should be counted as part of America."

Spellings' department is caught between two forces. Schools and states are eager to avoid the stigma of failure under the law, especially as the 2014 deadline draws closer. But Congress has shown little political will to modify the law to address their concerns. That leaves the racial category exemptions as a stopgap solution.

"She's inherited a disaster," said David Shreve, an education policy analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures. "The 'Let's Make a Deal' policy is to save the law from fundamental changes, with Margaret Spellings as Monty Hall."

The solution may be to set a single federal standard for when minority students' scores don't have to be counted separately, said Ross Wiener, policy director for the Washington-based Education Trust.

While the exemptions were created for good reasons, there's little doubt now that group sizes have become political, said Wiener, whose group supports the law.

"They're asking the question, not how do we generate statistically reliable results, but how do we generate politically palatable results," he said.


Associated Press Writers Laura Wides-Munoz in Miami, Nahal Toosi in New York, Duncan Mansfield in Knoxville and Garance Burke in Kansas City contributed to this report.© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Monday, April 17, 2006

School Makes Kids Use Buckets for Toilets

Talk about an over-reaction! -Angela

School Makes Kids Use Buckets for Toilets
Mon Apr 17, 1:17 PM ET / Associated Press
A principal trying to prevent walkouts during immigration rallies inadvertently introduced a lockdown so strict that children weren't allowed to go to the bathroom, and instead had to use buckets in the classroom, an official said.

Worthington Elementary School Principal Angie Marquez imposed the lockdown March 27 as nearly 40,000 students across Southern California left classes that morning to attend immigrants' rights demonstrations. The lockdown continued into the following morning.

Marquez apparently misread the district handbook and ordered a lockdown designed for nuclear attacks.

Tim Brown, the district's director of operations, confirmed some students used buckets but said the principal's order to impose the most severe type of lockdown was an "honest mistake."

"When there's a nuclear attack, that's when buckets are used," Brown told the Los Angeles Times. The principal "followed procedure. She made a decision to follow the handbook. She just misread it."

In some cases teachers escorted classmates to regular restroom facilities, students said.

Telephones rang unanswered Monday at Worthington Elementary School because of spring break and messages left for Marquez and Brown at school district headquarters were not returned.

Appalled parents have complained to the school board. Brown said the school district planned to update its emergency preparedness instructions to give more explicit directions.

Parents and community activists asked the school board at its April 5 meeting to explain the principal's decision. They also sought promises that the lockdown wouldn't be repeated.

"There was no violence at the protests, so this was based on what?" activist Diane Sambrano asked. "It was unsanitary, unnecessary and absolutely unacceptable."

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press.

The death of Anthony Soltero

This press release came out last week on the death of Anthony Soltero. I just tracked down a photo of him from the march in L.A. last week. This is so terribly sad and tragic. -Angela

Sunday, April 9, 2006
12:00 p.m.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Church
710 S. Sultana Ave., Ontario, CA 91761
Louise Corales, whose 14 year-old son, Anthony
Soltero, died on April 1 after committing suicide,
will speak to the community and ask for a prayer for
her son this Sunday, following the 11:00 a.m. mass at
Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Ontario, California.

Eighth grader Anthony Soltero shot himself through
the head on Thursday, March 30, after the assistant
principal at De Anza Middle School told him that he
was going to prison for three years because of his
involvement as an organizer of the April 28 school
walk-outs to protest the anti-immigrant legislation in
Washington. The vice principal also forbade Anthony
from attending graduation activities and threatened to
fine his mother for Anthony's truancy and
participation in the student protests.

"Anthony was learning about the importance of civic
duties and rights in his eighth grade class.
Ironically, he died because the vice principal at his
school threatened him for speaking out and exercising
those rights," Ms. Corales said today.

"I want to speak out to other parents, whose children are
attending the continuing protests this week. We have
to let the schools know that they can't punish our
children for exercising their rights."

Anthony's death is likely the first fatality arising
from the protests against the immigration legislation
being considered in Washington, D.C. Anthony, who was
a very good student at De Anza Middle School in the
Ontario-Montclair School District, believed in justice
and was passionate about the immigration issue.

He is survived by his mother, Louise Corales, his father, a
younger sister, and a baby brother. Ms. Corales will speak to the

community after mass on Sunday, April 9, 2006 at 12:00 p.m. at Our Lady of
Guadalupe Church. She will ask for a prayer for
Anthony, whose funeral and burial are scheduled for
Monday, April 10 in Long Beach, where he was born.

(310) 410-2981
(310) 989-6815

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Law to Segregate Omaha Schools Divides Nebraska

This takes us back to Plessy v. Ferguson and as we know, separate never was equal. We'll see if this stands up to constitutional muster. -Angela
April 15, 2006

OMAHA, April 14 — Ernie Chambers is Nebraska's only African-American state senator, a man who has fought for causes including the abolition of capital punishment and the end of apartheid in South Africa. A magazine writer once described him as the "angriest black man in Nebraska."

He was also a driving force behind a measure passed by the Legislature on Thursday and signed into law by the governor that calls for dividing the Omaha public schools into three racially identifiable districts, one largely black, one white and one mostly Hispanic.

The law, which opponents are calling state-sponsored segregation, has thrown Nebraska into an uproar, prompting fierce debate about the value of integration versus what Mr. Chambers calls a desire by blacks to control a school district in which their children are a majority.

Civil rights scholars call the legislation the most blatant recent effort in the nation to create segregated school systems or, as in Omaha, to resegregate districts that had been integrated by court order. Omaha ran a mandatory busing program from 1976 to 1999.

"These efforts to resegregate schools by race keep popping up in various parts of the country," said Gary Orfield, director of the Civil Rights Project at Harvard, adding that such programs skate near or across the line of what is constitutionally permissible. "I hear about something like this every few months, but usually when districts hear the legal realities from civil rights lawyers, they tend to back off their plans."

Nebraska's attorney general, Jon Bruning, said in a letter to a state senator that preliminary scrutiny had led him to believe that the law could violate the federal Constitution's equal protection clause, and that he expected legal challenges.

The debate here began when the Omaha district, which educates most of the state's minority students, moved last June to absorb a string of largely white schools that were within the Omaha city limits but were controlled by suburban or independent districts.

"Multiple school districts in Omaha stratify our community," John J. Mackiel, the Omaha schools superintendent, said last year. "They create inequity, and they compromise the opportunity for a genuine sense of community."

Omaha school authorities and business leaders marketed the expansion under the slogan, "One City, One School District." The plan, the district said, would create a more equitable tax base and foster integration through magnet programs to be set up in largely white schools on Omaha's western edge that would attract minority students.

The district had no plans to renew busing, but some suburban parents feared that it might. The suburban districts rebelled, and the unicameral Legislature drew up a measure to blunt the district's expansion.

The bill contained provisions creating a "learning community" to include 11 school districts in the Omaha area operating with a common tax levy while maintaining current borders. It required districts to work together to promote voluntary integration.

But the legislation changed radically with a two-page amendment by Mr. Chambers that carved the Omaha schools into racially identifiable districts, a move he told his colleagues would allow black educators to control schools in black areas.

Nebraska's 49-member, nonpartisan Legislature approved the measure by a vote of 31 to 16, with Mr. Chambers's support and with the votes of 30 conservative lawmakers from affluent white suburbs and ranching counties with a visceral dislike of the Omaha school bureaucracy. Gov. Dave Heineman, a Republican facing a tough primary fight, said he did not consider the measure segregationist and immediately signed it.

Dr. Mackiel, the Omaha superintendent, said the school board was "committed to protecting young people's constitutional rights."

"If that includes litigation, then that certainly is a consideration," Dr. Mackiel said.

Some of Nebraska's richest and most powerful residents have also questioned the legislation, including the billionaire investor Warren Buffett as well as David Sokol, the chief executive of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, which employs thousands in Nebraska and Iowa.

"This is going to make our state a laughingstock, and it's going to increase racial tensions and segregation," Mr. Sokol said in an interview.

The Omaha district has 46,700 students, 44 percent of them white, 32 percent black, 21 percent Hispanic and 3 percent Asian or Native American. The suburban systems that surround it range in size from the Millard Public School District, with about 20,000 students, 9 percent of whom are members of minorities, to the Bennington district, with 704 students, 4 percent of whom are members of minorities.

Parent reaction is divided. Darold Bauer, a professional fund-raiser who has three children in Millard schools, said he was pleased that the law had eliminated the threat of busing, although he said he was not thrilled about sharing a common tax levy with the Omaha schools.

"What this law does is protect the boundaries of my district," said Mr. Bauer, who is white. "All the districts in the area are now required to work together on an integration plan, and I'm fine with that, because my kids won't be bused."

Brenda J. Council, a prominent black lawyer whose niece and nephew attend Omaha's North High School, said of the law, "I'm adamantly opposed because it'll only institutionalize racial isolation."

Whether the law goes unchallenged is unclear. "We believe the state may face serious risk due to the potential constitutional problems," Attorney General Bruning said in his letter.

But Senator Chambers, a 68-year-old former barber who earned a law degree after his election to the Legislature in 1970, was unmoved. He lists his occupation as "defender of the downtrodden," and suggests that is precisely what he is doing.

"Several years ago I began discussing in my community the possibility of carving our area out of Omaha Public Schools and establishing a district over which we would have control," Mr. Chambers said during the debate on the floor of the Legislature. "My intent is not to have an exclusionary system, but we, meaning black people, whose children make up the vast majority of the student population, would control."

During an interview in his office, Mr. Chambers took time out to answer calls questioning the plan. He told several people bluntly that they were misinformed, but he remained polite.

"You call me anytime, whether you agree with me or not," he signed off one conversation.

He acknowledged that he had nursed a latent fury with the Omaha district since enduring the taunting of schoolmates during classroom readings of "Little Black Sambo" when he attended during the 1940's. He also accused the district of returning to segregated neighborhood schools when it ended busing in 1999, although no high school is more than 48 percent black.

Other black leaders in Omaha criticized the new law.

"This is a disaster," said Ben Gray, a television news producer and co-chairman of the African-American Achievement Council, a group of volunteers who mentor black students. "Throughout our time in America, we've had people who continuously fought for equality, and from Brown vs. Board of Education, we know that separate is not equal. We cannot go back to segregating our schools."

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

Bringing God Into It

I heard Rabbi Michael Lerner speak recently here in Austin. He provides an interesting analysis of political formations on the right and left. This should be read along with Jim Wallis’ GOD’S POLITICS and George Lakoff’s DON’T THINK OF AN ELEPHANT. Lots of summer reading. -Angela

Bringing God Into It


[from the April 24, 2006 issue of THE NATION

After the 2004 election, I met with a funder who was interested in supporting projects that could counter the growth of the right. The meeting was going well until I showed her a poster for an upcoming conference on fostering progressive spiritual activism. Her eye fell on one workshop, which was called "God and the Economy: How Can Making a Living Become Sacred Work?" "Why do you have to bring God into this?" she asked angrily.

Perhaps she forgot I was a rabbi, but what did she think a spiritual answer to the religious right would look like? Couldn't one of the twenty workshops mention God and speak to concerns of people who take their religious lives seriously?

In my research on the psychodynamics of American society I discovered that the left's hostility to religion is one of the main reasons people who otherwise might be involved with progressive politics get turned off. So it becomes important to ask why.

One reason is that conservatives have historically used religion to justify oppressive social systems and political regimes. But this can't be the whole answer, since it's not as if the left has never seen anyone misuse its own ideas to serve hateful and repressive purposes, from the Terror during the French Revolution to the Stalinist gulag in the Soviet Union. Another reason is that many of the most rigidly antireligious folk on the left are themselves refugees from repressive religious communities. Rightly rejecting the sexism, homophobia and authoritarianism they experienced in their own religious community, they unfairly generalize that to include all religious communities, unaware of the many religious communities that have played leadership roles in combating these and other forms of social injustice. Yet a third possible reason is that some on the left have never seen a religious community that embodies progressive values. But the left enjoyed some of its greatest success in the 1960s, when it was led by a black religious community and by a religious leader, Martin Luther King Jr.

So I am led to the conclusion that the main reason that underlies the left's deep skepticism about religion is its members' strong faith in a different kind of belief system. Even though many people on the left think of themselves as merely trying to hold on to a rational consciousness and resist the emotionalism that can contribute to fascistic movements, it's not true that the left is without belief. The left is captivated by a belief that has been called scientism. As a religious person, I rely on science to tell me about many aspects of the physical world in which I live, and in the new organization I've founded with Cornel West and Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister, called the Network of Spiritual Progressives (, we have developed an eight-point Spiritual Covenant with America in which one of the eight planks is about defending science from interference by the state, religion or the capitalist marketplace. We'll be presenting the covenant to Congress during our Spiritual Activism Conference, May 17-20 in Washington.

Science, however, is not the same as scientism--the belief that the only things that are real or can be known are those that can be empirically observed and measured. As a religious person, I don't rely on science to tell me what is right and wrong or what love means or why my life is important. I understand that such questions cannot be answered through empirical observations. Claims about God, ethics, beauty and any other face of human experience that is not subject to empirical verification--all these spiritual dimensions of life--are dismissed by the scientistic worldview as inherently unknowable and hence meaningless.

Scientism thus extends far beyond an understanding and appreciation of the role of science in society. It has become the religion of the secular consciousness. Why do I say it's a religion? Because it is a belief system that has no more scientific foundation than any other belief system. The view that that which is real and knowable is that which can be empirically verified or measured is a view that itself cannot be empirically measured or verified and thus by its own criterion is unreal or unknowable. It is a religious belief system with powerful adherents. Spiritual progressives therefore insist on the importance of distinguishing between our strong support for science and our opposition to scientism.

So why has the left become so attached to scientism? The left emerged as part of the broad movement against the feudal order, which taught that God had appointed people to their place in the hierarchical economic and political order for the good of the greater whole. Our current economic system, capitalism, was created by challenging the church's role in organizing social life, and empirical observation and rational thought became the battering ram the merchant class used to weaken the church's authority. Many of Marx's followers thought they were merely drawing out the full implications of their new worldview when they adopted a scientistic approach that not only dismissed God and spirit as being without empirical foundation but also reduced all ethical and aesthetic judgments to little more than reflections of class interests.

The idea that people are only motivated by material self-interest became the basis for a significant part of what we now call the political left, or labor movement, and the Democratic Party ("It's the economy, stupid"). But in the research I did with thousands of middle-income working-class people, I found that there was a pervasive desire for meaning and a purpose-driven life, and for recognition by others in a nonutilitarian way, and that the absence of this kind of recognition and deprivation of meaning caused a huge amount of suffering and could best be described as a deep spiritual hunger that had little to do with how much money people were making. Granted, most people on the left would probably agree, in the abstract, that money can't buy love (or meaning). But when it comes down to the choices they make in trying to formulate goals for a union or a political party or a social change organization, they often revert to their deeply internalized materialistic assumptions, which leads them to deny the potential efficacy of addressing the "meaning" needs.

The truth is that most people on the left already have a set of moral principles that guide their lives and have led them to be Democrats or Greens or social change activists. But their scientistic worldview makes them feel slightly embarrassed to acknowledge and articulate those values. And the intense skepticism about religion and spirituality on the left makes them reluctant to talk in a language that could be seen as inherently religious or spiritual. In this, they are reflecting a long history of indoctrination into the scientistic assumptions of the dominant secular society, assumptions that have shaped our educational system, permeated our economic marketplace and been internalized as "sophisticated thinking" by the self-appointed (and capital-sustained) arbitrators of culture.

The public sphere is currently dominated by a scientism that validates money and power (which can be measured) and steadfastly rejects the introduction of spiritual values. But since that public sphere generates a deep spiritual emptiness and validates an ethos of materialism and selfishness, the religious right gains huge credibility by challenging the alleged neutrality of the public sphere and insists on introducing values. But what it really has in mind is to impose Christianity and undermine the separation of church and state. If the left could recognize that the capitalist marketplace already imposes a set of values in the public sphere, it would understand that the most effective way to combat the challenge of the religious right is not to fight for values neutrality in a public sphere already fully permeated by the values of materialism and selfishness but instead to introduce a set of spiritual values with progressive content. That is why we in the Network of Spiritual Progressives are calling for a New Bottom Line: institutions, corporations, legislation and social practices should be judged efficient, rational and productive not only to the extent that they maximize money and power (the empirically verifiable dimension) but also to the extent that they maximize love and kindness, generosity and compassion, ecological and ethical behavior, enhance our capacities to respond to other human beings as inherently (and not just instrumentally) valuable, and to respond to the universe with awe, wonder and radical amazement at the grandeur of all that is. With these values, we could counter the right and save the First Amendment.

This New Bottom Line is the essence of a spiritual politics, and the Network of Spiritual Progressives that advocates for it is a movement not only of people who believe in God but also the many "spiritual but not religious" people who share a recognition that the spiritual dimension of reality has to be brought into the center of progressive politics. And yes, we want these values--not the capitalist values that currently describe themselves as "neutral" or the values of the religious right--to shape our public life. But keeping all values out of the public sphere is a nonstarter because it fails to recognize that there already are values built into every economic and political and educational and legal institution in our society--and that they are the capitalist values that cause so much pain to people in daily life.

I don't mean that the secular left ought to give up its secularism. I am not suggesting that a secularist should convert to some particular religion in order to garner popularity and win votes. What I do mean is that a leftist secularist ought to approach other belief systems with a greater spirit of humility, recognizing that secularism is one possible answer among many to the question of how to understand the universe and how to live one's life. Secularism is not "the rational approach" but "a rational approach" among other rational approaches. To be effective, a social change movement will need to make a place for everyone who shares the same political values, even though they may belong to different religious traditions or hold different philosophical positions. Speaking from a religious perspective should be normal in political meetings or at public events sponsored by the left--and the left should work as hard to create an inclusive feel for this as it does to include any other constituency.

The secular left consistently disarms itself of what could be its most powerful weapon: a spiritual vision of the world. I've used the word "spiritual" as a label to identify a meaning-oriented approach to politics. Its focus is on the yearning of human beings for a world of love and caring, for genuine connection and mutual recognition, for kindness and generosity, for connection to the common good, to the sacred and to a transcendent purpose for our lives. Understand human history and contemporary society and individual psychology from the standpoint of these needs and the ways they have been frustrated, and then develop a strategy that addresses those needs, and we will be able to build a movement and a political party that will be in a position to bring about all the good things liberals and progressives have fought for with such limited success over the past 100 years.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Morning in America Again

A very positive spin on the UT immigrant rights rally last Monday. -Angela

Published on Thursday, April 13, 2006 by the Guardian/UK
Morning in America Again
The leaders of the Republican party have awakened an unfriendly giant with their stance on immigrants.
by James K. Galbraith

I went to, of all things, a rally on Monday.
By the standards of the movement sweeping across the nation, it was small: about 500 people, mostly students, gathered on campus a hundred feet from the statue of Martin Luther King that faces east in solitude, tactfully removed from the old Confederates who face south, a quarter of a mile away. But every 15 or 20 minutes a new contingent would march up, 50 or a hundred strong, coming from somewhere.

My state senator, an American of Mexican heritage, spoke with vivid eloquence. On the side, he cracked to me that we'd done better in our day, when it was a matter of life and death. I countered that we could never have turned out half a million people in Dallas. Which had actually happened one day before. That's Dallas, Texas, I repeat. Of course he agreed.

This isn't the anti-war movement, of white college kids, liberal Protestant churches, Dr. Spock and veterans of the Abraham Lincoln brigades. It's not the civil rights movement, although the crowds everywhere were a gorgeous mixture of American colors, brown and black, yellow and tan. The civil rights marches, as I recall them, were solemn, formal, more spiritual and religious than these; they were the marches of a deprived people determined to take their place, in the face of extreme official violence.

The spirit of the immigration marches seems quite different. It is festive. It is wholly patriotic. The immigrants, their families, and their supporters, are not angry with America. On the contrary, they are happy to be here. Mostly they aren't even demanding what they haven't got. They are trying to protect what they have, or what they are already hard at work to get. One sign I saw, "My father was illegal; I'm a law student," pretty much captured the spirit of the day.

Vietnam was about war. Civil rights was about racial justice. But these marches are, mainly, about work. They are about the right to work, and to live from work, in simple dignity, independence and freedom. And that freedom, which exists as a practical matter for many immigrants in America today, is under threat.

The bill the House passed is a cruel farce, which would turn (it is said, but no one really knows) 11 million working people into felons and criminalize all who assist them, including church and social workers. The compromise under consideration in the Senate is less cruel, but it is a fantasy that somehow one can separate those who have been in the country two and five years or longer from those who haven't.

There is only one just solution. Immigrants, who come and work, are going to be here a long time. They aren't criminals and they also aren't guests. The fact that their presence may be illegal is a problem not with the people but with the law. Under the constitution, their children are citizens the day they are born. The migrants should become citizens too, not without some wait and effort, but efficiently. And they should vote.

I think the country knows this. Making Americans is one thing it does pretty well. And adding 11 million, or (say) 20 million, working people who are here anyway to the citizenship rolls, in a country of 300 million, just isn't that big a deal to most people. Especially when the other choice is to have a guest worker underclass in a police state. A headline in today's Wall Street Journal read: "Employers Have a Lot to Lose." But the story wasn't about how business felt threatened by the rallies. It was about a landscaper in California, who is speaking out to get his workers made legal.

Who is opposed? The leaders of the Republican party are opposed. Why? Because they know that immigrants have the power to sweep them all away. That already happened, in California, in the wake of an infamous proposition denying undocumented immigrants access to the public schools. On the electoral maps, California went from Reagan red to solid blue, and it's not going back.

And now they've made the same mistake again. Like Tojo at Pearl Harbor, they've awakened a giant. Only this time, it's all across the country - a divided country where a California change in only a few states, such as Arizona or Virginia, or Florida, could tip our politics right over. Looking out at the kids yesterday, you could almost imagine it happening in Texas.

For those of us from the Vietnam era, well, it looks like it's morning in America again.

James Galbraith holds the Lloyd M Bentsen Jr chair of government/business relations at the Lyndon B Johnson school of public affairs, the University of Texas at Austin, and a professorship in government. He is a senior scholar with the Levy Economics Institute, and chair of the board of Economists for Peace and Security, an international association of professional economists.

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

It's our fight, too

A piece on why immigrants' rights matter for African Americans. -Angela
It's our fight, too
By Rev. Hurmon Hamilton and Rev. Ray Hammond | April 13, 2006

The following remarks were delivered by the Rev. Hurmon Hamilton on behalf of
the Black Ministerial Alliance and the Ten Point Coalition at Boston's
immigration rally on Monday.

WE ARE GATHERED here today to answer a question ringing around our nation: Where
is the Black Church with regard to our 11 million immigrant sisters and brothers
in their struggle for a just immigration policy? Today, the answer is clear. In
Boston, the Black Church is here, standing alongside our immigrant sisters and
brothers fighting for reasonable, just, and humane immigration reform.

However, we, the Black Church, do not come here today unaware or insensitive to
the challenges that immigration presents to the African-American community.
These challenges are complex and they generate many questions that our
communities together must confront and answer. For example, how do we prevent
ourselves from being pitted against one another for the limited unskilled jobs
in a service economy?

And the question of how do we (African-Americans and immigrant communities)
avoid becoming pawns of economic or corporate interests that would welcome
substandard wages, for both native and foreign-born workers? And, how do we
ensure that all members of our communities receive the government services that
we need not just to survive but to thrive?

Then there is the question of how do we ensure that our immigrant status or
ex-offender status is neither a barrier to employment nor an invitation to
exploitation. And how do we make sure that all of our children have access to
the educational resources and opportunities that they need? These challenges
underscore all the more why we must work closely with one another as opposed to
turning on one another in our time of need.

America must never forget that immigration is the source of our strength. We are
a nation of immigrants with an eternal debt of justice to pay with regard to
immigration. It is a tortuous logic for the dominant power class in this
country to forget that we were established as a nation when people immigrated
here from Europe, and displaced the Native Americans, destroying their jobs,
homes, food supply, and culture. Those new Americans used and profited from
forced immigration, as millions of African slaves were brought here to build
our cities, plant and harvest our crops, and become the backbone of our
modern-day economic power.

So the descendants of those who immigrated to this land and shattered resources
and hope for others, and who benefited from forced immigration of Africans for
over 100 years, should have only one response when asked what to do about our
immigrant sisters and brothers, and it should be in the form of a question:
''How do we pay the debt of justice we owe?"

We acknowledge that immigration will always be a challenge, as long as our
neighbors to the south of us, and families throughout our world, have a
substandard of living in a global economy of wealth and opportunity. As
Americans we have a responsibility to use our wealth not only to fatten the
calves that we eat, but to ensure that our neighbors in this hemisphere and
beyond eat in their homes at their family tables as well as we do here in
America. This must be our ongoing commitment.

As we think about immigration today, we are reminded of the Word of God, from
Leviticus: ''Don't mistreat any foreigners who live in your land. Instead,
treat them as well as you treat citizens and love them as much as you love
yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners in [a strange land] the land
of Egypt. [Thus says] the Lord your God."

Thursday, April 13, 2006

'No Turning Back'

Here is a good quote by longtime scholar-activist, Jose Angel Gutierrez, who was interviewed for this piece:

"This is the first real social movement, bottom-up, grass-roots movement of the 21st century," said José Angel Gutiérrez, a longtime Hispanic activist. "Mexicans and other Latino immigrants are outing themselves and saying, 'You're not inviting me to the table, so I'm taking to the streets.' " The sleeping giant has awoken. And it's not only Mexican immigrants but also U.S.-born Mexican Americans like myself who support immigrant rights. Though many of us have been in the U.S. for several generations what is undeniable are the many familial, collegial, and frienship connections that so many of us have across the border. No wall no matter how high can erase this fact of existence over the past several hundred years.

My deceased grandmother's words have always reminded me how the border is a fiction (in social science we say, social construction). When she was a child (1920s), they used to call it "la linea." All it was was a line in the sand. It was a fluid "boundary" that hardened with the subsequent militarization of the border.

Today, they says it's a porous border. I need to get exact figures, but it is my understanding that as many persons as died in 9/11 have died crossing the border since then. If life chances are an indicator or porousness--and I believe that it should be one such indicator--then the fiction of a porous border is patently false and added militarization is no solution.

My grandparents were both ministers and my thoughts of them encourages me to ask and think, "What would Jesus do?" Jesus certainly wouldn't build a wall.


'No turning back'
Dallas police put immigration rally at 350,000 to 500,000; boycott today aims to show Hispanics' economic power
Monday, April 10, 2006

From Staff Reports
SMILEY N. POOL/Dallas Morning News

Protesters marched along Ross Avenue on Sunday afternoon. Organizers had asked participants to wear white shirts to symbolize peace, wave American flags and carry positive messages.


Voices on all sides of the issue showed up Sunday to be heard at the immigration rally in downtown Dallas.

As many as half a million people marched peacefully through downtown Dallas on Sunday for the rights of illegal immigrants, in the largest civil rights demonstration in the city's history - and to some experts, the birth of a new social movement.

"We came, we made history," said Victoria Garcia, a 21-year-old marcher from Dallas. Ms. Garcia, who was born in the U.S., said she participated because she was worried there wouldn't be enough marchers.

Between 350,000 and 500,000 participants showed up, according to Dallas police estimates. In Fort Worth, about 10,000 to 30,000 people marched.

Sunday's march brought together U.S. citizens and immigrants, both legal and illegal. It drew families and teenagers and a mix of veteran activists and those demonstrating for the first time. Police reported only one arrest, for public intoxication.

The effect of Sunday's marches on lawmakers in Washington remains unclear.

But experts say the rallies, plus an economic boycott planned for today, have certainly grabbed the attention of people across the country - including those who haven't thought much about the immigration debate before.

"This is the first real social movement, bottom-up, grass-roots movement of the 21st century," said José Angel Gutiérrez, a longtime Hispanic activist. "Mexicans and other Latino immigrants are outing themselves and saying, 'You're not inviting me to the table, so I'm taking to the streets.' "

Dr. Gutiérrez participated in Sunday's march and said he won't be coming to work today at the University of Texas at Arlington, where he teaches political science.

Roberto Calderón, a history professor at the University of North Texas who participated in Sunday's march, predicted that Hispanics, immigrant and U.S.-born alike will become more politically active, by joining community groups, registering to vote and running for office.

"There's no turning back," he said. "It makes concrete the larger demographic and cultural changes that are taking place for the community here in North Texas and Dallas."

The spark for Sunday's march, and for student walkouts two weeks ago, is changes to immigration law being considered in Congress. The most restrictive bill, which passed the House in December, would make felons out of illegal immigrants and those who aid them. Some marchers Sunday wore T-shirts that read "No HR4437," referring to the bill number.

On a grander scale, the messages of the march were evident in banners that people carried, from "We have a dream, too" to "Fair treatment" to "I am a human not a criminal."

Organized and focused

The demonstration was notable not only for its size but for its organization and focus. Participants had been told to wear white shirts to symbolize peace, wave American flags and carry banners with positive messages.

And marching under a clear blue sky, they did.

The rally was to begin at 1 p.m. at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, at Ross Avenue and Pearl Street. Long before then, however, participants, most of them Hispanic, flowed in from remote parking lots and began taking their places in line. Some carried large U.S. flags; another group had a 5-foot banner reading "Legalización. It's our American dream too."

Pressured by the pent-up energy of the crowd, organizers moved the barricades at 12:52 p.m., and the marchers began proceeding slowly from the church west on Ross Avenue, accompanied by shouts through megaphones, cheering and drumbeats.

At City Hall, they listened to a series of speakers and waved their flags. Among the loudest ovations was for Bishop Charles Grahmann of the Dallas Diocese, who told the crowd: "We're on a journey, and it is a journey that is sometimes very difficult. ... We welcome the opportunity to voice our support for all of our people to become part of the American Dream."

One of the rally speakers was 16-year-old Gustavo Jimenez Jr., a Duncanville High School student who is credited with being one of the organizers of the student walkouts. "This was kind of a wake-up call to all of us," he said. "To let the government know it is going to mess with our families."

Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle attributed the peaceful nature of the protest to the work of the volunteers and organizers.

"It's been a very good day for the city," he said. "This is a family-oriented group that's come here to demonstrate. No one we saw looked like they were planning to cause any problems."

The march also drew small groups of counterprotesters. One group shouted from a parking lot at Ross Avenue and Harwood Street: "U.S.A., U.S.A., you're gonna go home, you're gonna go home."

Elijah McGrew, 48, one of the counterprotesters, said: "They are breaking the law, and no one should get amnesty. If I break the law, I don't get amnesty."

Also in the group was Ben Blewusi, who said he came to the U.S. legally from Ghana. "Illegal immigration is a crime in every country. I believe they are a drain on the economy and don't pay taxes, and employers take advantage of them and enslave their labor. And as a result it drives down wages for legal migrants and U.S. citizens," Mr. Blewusi said.

Despite polls showing that large numbers of non-Hispanic whites and black Americans support more liberal immigration policies, comparatively few non-Hispanics joined the march. "I think a lot of white people would have expected to feel uncomfortable, although that has not been the case for me," said Jonathan Piper, a Deep Ellum resident who is white.

Saniyyah Rounds, a 22-year-old black student from the University of Texas at Arlington, said, "A lot of black people don't think this is their problem. What they don't realize is that this is a problem for all minorities. We can't segregate ourselves. We can't hold ourselves as different from Hispanics."

'We'll come back'

Organizers of the event who work with the League of United Latin American Citizens were emphatic - some said even heavy-handed - that protesters should carry the Stars and Stripes. While the message seemed to take hold, a smattering of Mexican flags did make it into the event.

Another message was an oft-repeated refrain from both participants and podium speakers: Today we march, tomorrow we vote.

Margarita Alvarez, 47, a native of Guatemala who was granted political asylum in 1996, said Sunday's march certainly may not be the last.

"We're here today to call for a just immigration reform," she said, "and if we have to, we'll come back and march again."

In Dallas and many other cities across the U.S., Hispanic leaders are organizing an economic boycott today to show the spending and labor power of Hispanics, native and immigrant alike. Supporters are being urged not to spend a penny. Some workers plan to call in sick. Some students had talked about staying home from school, although event speakers urged them not to.

How the two days' events will shape the thorny debate over immigration in Washington, Dallas and across the country, however, remains uncertain. But experts say the efforts stand to galvanize those on all sides of the issue.

For those fighting for the rights of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S., "these are almost intoxicating days," said Michael Young, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin who studies social protest movements. But for those who are frustrated with illegal immigration and want to secure the borders, "these could also be exciting days for them," Dr. Young said.

Jean Towell, president of the Dallas-based Citizens for Immigration Reform, echoed that thought.

"I think the more they protest, it's going to make the American citizens unhappy," she said. "The ones that will be unhappy will still feel that the illegals are wanting more than they deserve."

Ms. Towell's group, which she said has about 225 members, supports the House bill that would make felons out of illegal immigrants and build a 700-mile fence on the U.S.-Mexico border. A bill in the Senate that would put some illegal immigrants on the path to citizenship failed to win support Friday before Congress left town for a two-week break.

Ms. Garcia, the Dallas marcher who showed up to make sure numbers would be high, said she was amazed to see so many people.

Scanning the crowd near Dallas City Hall, where the demonstration route ended, she said: "It makes me feel proud that when something matters, we can all come together."

Staff writers Karen Ayres, Holly K. Hacker, Margarita Martín-Hidalgo, Andrew D. Smith, Dianne Solís, Jason Trahan, Frank Trejo and Katherine Leal Unmuth produced this report.

By the numbers

350,000 to 500,000: (estimated) Participants

50,000: (estimated) Paletas (frozen fruit bars) sold

750: Police and sheriff's deputies working the march

60: Portable toilets at Dallas City Hall

10: Scheduled speakers at Dallas City Hall

7: Ambulances assigned

2: People hospitalized for medical issues

1.5: Hours it took for march route to clear out

1: Total arrests (for public intoxication)