Saturday, December 20, 2008


110 Broadway, Suite 300, San Antonio, TX 78025
Office: 210-224-5476

December 19, 2008
MALDEF: Estuardo Rodriguez: 202-631-2892
David Hinojosa, Staff Attorney: 210-224-5476
META: Roger L. Rice, Executive Director: 617-628-2226


AUSTIN, TX – Earlier today, a federal district court denied the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) request to put on hold the court’s order that requires TEA to remedy its language programs for English Language Learner (ELL) children across Texas in the long-standing case, US v. Texas. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the Multicultural Education, Training and Advocacy, Inc. (META), on behalf of LULAC and the GI Forum, hotly contested TEA’s Motion to Stay Proceedings Pending Appeal filed just weeks ago and urged the Court to hold TEA to the current deadline of January 31, 2009.

“It is very sad to see TEA attempt to shirk its responsibilities and further delay opportunities for ELL children to learn the English language,” said co-lead counsel David Hinojosa of MALDEF. “Fortunately, the Court recognized the urgency of the matter and is intent on holding TEA’s feet to the fire.” According to Roger Rice, counsel from META, the Court stated: "The time has come to put a halt to the failed secondary ESL program and monitoring system." Rice added, "Instead of playing legal games, TEA should be sitting down and fixing its program. If not now, when?"

On July 24, 2008, U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice issued the most comprehensive legal decision concerning the civil rights of ELL students in the last 25 years, finding that Texas was failing to overcome language barriers for tens of thousands of Latino students in secondary programs. While the Court noted that there was some success for students in the state’s K-6 bilingual education program, the record at the secondary level was one of dismal failure. Accordingly, the Court ordered TEA to submit a plan to the Court no later than January 31, 2009 that would improve the State’s programs for ELL secondary students and revamp its statewide monitoring system.

In its present motion, TEA had asked the Court to delay the injunction pending its appeal to the Fifth Circuit on the grounds that it could not meet the deadline because of a lack of funding and resources. However, the Court rejected that argument finding the agency’s arguments without merit.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has yet to issue a briefing scheduling on TEA’s appeal.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF, the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization, promotes and protects the rights of Latinos through litigation, advocacy, community education and outreach, leadership development, and higher education scholarships. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:


WICHE Report Says American Dream in Jeopardy without Success of Hispanics

WICHE Report Says American Dream in Jeopardy without Success of Hispanics

A report of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) (“Beyond Social Justice: The Threat of Inequality to Workforce Development in the Western United States <>”) defines the challenges inherent in the unequal levels of educational attainment of the non-majority populations of the U.S. as follows: “The Western states that are experiencing the sharpest declines in educational attainment from generation to generation are those with the fastest-growing minority populations (Arizona, California, New Mexico and Nevada). Their ability to reverse this downward trend depends on their success in closing the gaps between White non-Hispanics and minorities” (p. 11). After acknowledging that the U.S. has excluded its non-majority groups from workforce and economic development, the WICHE report states that “the West contains the majority of states in the U.S. that will face the largest increases in demand for college-educated workers” and that the need for such workers will exist at a time when “many White non-Hispanics approach retirement age, the younger adult population becomes increasingly diverse, and educational participation and completion gaps among White non-Hispanics and minorities persist” (p. 21). The report concludes with the following observations: “Our failure to adequately serve minorities throughout the West is the most distressing story of this report. In the West Hispanics will soon be the majority population. Yet at nearly every stage in the education process, the systems of education in the West serve Hispanics at the lowest rate of any racial/ethnic population. As a result they continue to represent the majority of workers employed in low-skill, low-wage jobs” (p. 31). “Our future will be greatly affected by our ability (or inability) to equalize opportunity at all stages of the education pipeline. At stake is our competitive position in the global economy and the likelihood that our children and grandchildren will experience the U.S.’s prosperity, as we have. If the social justice reasoning for closing racial/ethnic gaps has run its course, then perhaps the public (and policymakers) will pay closer attention to an argument for closing these gaps that addresses something more near and dear: our individual and collective economic well-being” (pp. 31-32).

More Schools Facing Sanctions Under NCLB

Data on adequate yearly progress show that 1 in 5 public schools are in some stage of penalties under the federal law.

By David J. Hoff | Ed Week
December 19, 2008

Almost 30,000 schools in the United States failed to make adequate yearly progress under the No Child Left Behind Act in the 2007-08 school year. For states with comparable data for the 2006-07 school year, the number of such schools increased by 28 percent.

Half those schools missed their achievement goals for two or more years, putting almost one in five of the nation’s public schools in some stage of a federally mandated process designed to improve student achievement. The number facing sanctions represents a 13 percent increase for states with comparable data over the 2006-07 school year.

Read on...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Task force urges U.S. to 'Americanize' immigrants

By Eunice Moscoso
Friday, December 19, 2008

WASHINGTON — The United States must embark on an aggressive effort to integrate immigrants, including teaching them English and U.S. history, a federal task force recommended Thursday.

If this "Americanization" fails, the n ation could see major problems in 20 or 30 years, with foreign-born populations detached from the larger society and engaging in anti-social behavior, said Alfonso Aguilar, who heads the U.S. Office of Citizenship.

Aguilar compared the potential strife to what is occurring in some Western European countries where foreign-born populations do not feel part of the larger society and are not accepted by many as full citizens.

"We should not be naive and assume that the assimilation process is going to happen automatically," Aguilar said, at a news conference.

By 2025, about 14 percent of the nation will be foreign-born, he said.

The Task Force on New Americans recommends that the federal government take a leadership role in an "Americanization movement," but also says that states, local governments, nonprofit groups and the private sector should play a key part.

The report strongly emphasizes that immigrants must learn English in order to fully integrate into American society. Aguilar said immigrants currently want to learn English but many cannot find classes.

He said the report is not recommending "an ugly, English-only approach," but "a friendly, pro-active literary effort."

The report urges the development of Internet based electronic learning tools for adults to learn English and civics.

The task force, which includes 12 Cabinet-level departments and eight additional federal agencies, has been studying the issue for two years. It is part of a Bush administration effort to promote citizenship.

Mexican materials help ELL students academically

December 18, 2008

By Paris Achen | Oregon Mail Tribune

When Jackson County schools enroll a student who doesn't speak English their first priority is teaching the student the language.

But educators say they are also concerned with improving the student's academic skills, a process that can be stalled during the transition to English.

To help students keep up with their academic skills, the state has had a partnership with the Mexican government for the past 17 years that provides supplemental Spanish instructional materials to Oregon schools at no charge or for a nominal fee.

In January, the state will begin determining how to fill in the gaps where the Mexican elementary, secondary and adult-level curricula don't meet Oregon's academic standards.

The state recently completed a study overseen by the Salem-based Willamette Education Service District that identified how the Oregon content standards and Mexican curricula differ in preparation for the upcoming project.

"It's really useful because if a newcomer comes in and their English isn't strong enough, they can continue gaining in math and science and social studies while they're learning English," said Charlie Bauer, migrant education coordinator at the Southern Oregon Education Service District.

The state decided to align the Mexican curriculum to the state standards because so many students migrate between Mexico and Oregon, said Susanne Smith, a spokeswoman at the Oregon Department of Education.

"This is a way to provide continuity," Smith said.

In Jackson County, there were about 4,232 Hispanic students in 2007-08 and 2,180 of those were considered English language learners, according to the state.

The Southern Oregon ESD and Medford School District have used some of the supplemental Mexican instructional materials, mostly for adult education classes that are offered at Howard Elementary School in Medford. The materials also have been used in some summer school classes, Bauer said.

"The tricky thing is having a teacher whose Spanish is strong enough to use the materials," Bauer said.

Not all ELL teachers are bilingual or necessarily speak Spanish because in some districts, students enroll speaking a variety of languages.

Phoenix-Talent School District took some free books from the Mexican government four to five years ago, which were used in bilingual classes, said Javier del Rio, Phoenix-Talent schools ELL coordinator.

"We are definitely going to be looking into (any new materials) because sometimes they come up with neat stuff," del Rio said.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Report: Number of Latino immigrant workers drops

Check out this full report "Latino Workers in the Ongoing Recession: 2007 to 2008" by Pew Research Center.


Associated Press
Dec 15, 2008

DENVER (Map, News) - Some 234,000 working-age Latinos who immigrated to the U.S. between 1990 and 1999 are no longer part of the American labor force, a new report says.

Those workers left the work force over the past year as the economy slid into recession, according to an analysis released Monday by the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Hispanic Center.

Rakesh Kocchar, who authored the report, said about 234,000 Latino working-age immigrants - those 16 or older - who arrived during those years are no longer part of the labor force, either because of deaths or departures. Although the report didn't track how many returned home, the data suggests many are doing so, Kocchar said.

"This is a closed group of people. They can't grow anymore," Kocchar said. "The only reason the size of this group can change is if some of them die or some of them go back. This drop is higher than a normal death rate would be."

Kocchar said the 234,000 is a 4.2 percent drop from the number Latino immigrants who came to the U.S. from 1990 to 1999.

About 7.2 million Latinos entered the U.S. between 1990 and March 2000, according to U.S. Census data.

The Pew Center report analyzed data from the Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It found that about 12.2 million foreign-born Latinos were active in the labor force in the third quarter of 2008, meaning they were employed or looking for work. That's a 1.1 percent decrease from the third quarter of 2007.

While the decline is small, Kocchar said what makes it significant is that it's the first such decrease since 2003, as the U.S. started climbing out of its 2001 recession.

"It seems like (Latinos) are in a time for a decision here, either to stay or to go back," said Kochhar.

Other report findings:

- The unemployment rate for all Latinos - foreign- and native-born - was 7.9 percent in the third quarter of 2008, up from 5.7 percent in the year-earlier period. The unemployment rate for the total U.S. work force was 6.1 percent, up from 4.7 percent.

- A decrease in Mexican immigrants active in the labor force is more apparent than for Latinos overall. Their numbers increased by 225,000 in 2008, compared to an increase of 404,000 in 2007.

- Latinos lost 156,000 construction jobs over the last year.

- Employed Latino immigrants saw their wages increase by 5.5 percent, possibly because immigrants in low-wage jobs are leaving the work force.

But despite Latinos' declining participation in the work force, the report said the "labor market data do not paint an unrelentingly negative picture for Latino immigrants." Kochhar noted the 6.4 unemployment rate for Latino immigrants was similar to that for all U.S. workers.

"It is more or less in line with what one would expect," Kochhar said. "The recession is affecting everyone."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Women graduate from AISD's ePromotoras program

What a great model for working with parents.


By: News 8 Austin Staff

It was graduation day of sorts at Houston Elementary in South Austin Sunday.

About 50 women became the first wave of what the Austin Independent School District calls "ePromotoras.�

The women have been learning a new curriculum that shows them how to teach their toddlers several essential skills before they even enter pre-kindergarten.

Martha Garcia with Bilingual Education for AISD said it's an effort by the school district to make sure the students don't fall behind.

"Being bilingual is an opportunity,� she said. �It's a good thing, and so what this tells us is we're going to have to have more parent involvement in the education of their kids which we all know is important and makes a huge difference for our children."

The new ePromotoras will also teach what they've learned to other women who, in the coming months, will go through the same process.

According to AISD, Texas currently leads the nation in the increase of children under the age of five, with the majority coming from Hispanic households.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Report Finds Latino College Students Motivated, Hardworking, In Need of More Financial Aid

What a statistic Dr. Saenz' research reveals: "Latino men constituted 57.4 percent of Latino freshmen in 1975, but only 39 percent by 2006." My colleague here at UT is doing great work as you can see below.


Report Finds Latino College Students Motivated, Hardworking, In Need of More Financial Aid
- Dec. 1st., 2008

Dr. Victor B. Saenz

Dr. Victor Sáenz, an assistant professor in The University of Texas at Austin’s College of Education, co-authored a UCLA report that shows over the past three decades, the income disparity between Latino and non-Hispanic white students entering four-year colleges and universities has increased fourfold. The difference in median household income grew from $7,986 in 1975 to $32,965 in 2006, according to the comprehensive, multi-faceted report on Latino college students.

"Even though Latinos had a slight increase in minimizing the racial income gap, the central tendency of the gap remains fairly large over this three-decade-long period," said UCLA assistant professor of education José Luis Santos, an expert on economic issues in higher education and co-author of the report. "It is not surprising that adequate financial support remains critical to both college choice and persistence for Latinos."

One in five Latino freshmen expressed major concern about the ability to finance college at the start of the school year in 2006, compared with only 8.6 percent of non-Hispanic white freshmen. The report also shows that financial assistance was among the top factors influencing Latino freshmen in their choice of a four-year college or university.

National data for "Advancing in Higher Education: A Portrait of Latino College Freshmen at Four-Year Institutions, 1975–2006," came from the Cooperative Institutional Research Program's (CIRP) annual Freshman Survey, administered by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA's Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. The CIRP data were reported by gender and by specific Latino ethnic-origin groups — including categories for Mexican American/Chicano, Puerto Rican and Other Latino — highlighting population diversity unavailable in other national reports on Hispanic college students.

"We actually began monitoring specific Latino ethnic groups in 1971, which predates federal data collection on Hispanic students," said UCLA professor of education Sylvia Hurtado, director of the Higher Education Research Institute and a report co-author.

The report also indicated that even as the number of Latino students entering four-year institutions has increased, the proportion of Latino males to females has decreased dramatically. Latino men constituted 57.4 percent of Latino freshmen in 1975, but only 39 percent by 2006.

"The gender gap in educational attainment across most racial/ethnic groups has been growing in recent years, but this gap for Latinos has been understudied," said report co-author Victor B. Sáenz, a member of The University of Texas at Austin College of Education’s Department of Educational Administration. "There is little research that explains why these gender gaps are growing among Latino students and even less about what this gap could portend in light of the fast-growing nature of this population. The bottom line is that these results identify a problematic area in dire need of more research."

In other key findings, Latino freshmen reported a strong drive to achieve relative to non-Hispanic white students and in recent years have surpassed other peer groups in these self-ratings. They also were likely to report higher degree aspirations than their peers.

In most years, a higher proportion of male and female Latinos reported spending six or more hours a week on studying or homework in high school than gender groups of other ethnicities. By 2006, Latinas kept pace with female whites (38 and 37 percent, respectively), and both female groups spent more time studying or doing homework in high school than Latino males (28.8 percent) or white males (25 percent). Report authors speculated that Latinos work hard to make the grade because of the challenges they face or the general belief that hard work leads to success.

"These findings serve to counter the myth that college-bound Latinos lack the effort, preparation or academic motivation to succeed in college," Sáenz said. "Quite the contrary, these results suggest that Latino college-bound students are among the most driven and motivated to achieve, a finding which puts the focus back on colleges, who need to better cultivate those initial predispositions among their entering Latino students."

Although well over 90 percent of Latinos and non-Hispanic whites have achieved the recommended high school preparation in English, mathematics and foreign language study set by the National Commission on Educational Excellence in 1982, fewer Latino students than whites report having taken the recommended two years of physical science (56.5 percent and 61.4 percent, respectively), and both groups fall short of meeting biological science course recommendations (completed by 45.3 percent and 46.8 percent, respectively).

As competition for admission to four-year institutions has increased for all students, the percentage of Latinos reporting they are attending their first-choice institution has seen a 27 percent relative decrease, compared with a 10 percent relative decrease for whites. There is a related trend of increases in college application rates. In 1975, 14.1 percent of Latinos and 6 percent of whites reported applying to five or more colleges in addition to the one they ultimately attended. In 2006, 34.8 percent of Latinos and 23 percent of whites reported doing so.

"Latinos at four-year colleges got the message and are applying to more schools, although fewer now state they are attending their first-choice institution," Santos said. "Latinos are attracted by financial aid packages, but some of these choices may not be as close to home, where costs can be lower. The question is how Latino students from different income groups make these decisions. It is an area we want to study further."

According to the report, Latinos' intended majors and career objectives have remained steady over the years, with biology, psychology, political science, business, nursing and elementary education among the top 10 intended majors at college entry.

Historically, Latinos have tended to characterize themselves as more liberal and less conservative politically than white students, and report findings indicated this still is true: 43.2 percent of Latinos characterized their political views as "middle of the road," 34.8 percent as liberal, 17.4 percent as conservative and 1.4 percent as far right. In contrast, 26.2 percent of white students characterized their political views as liberal, and 26.5 percent reported that they were conservative.

Latinos also expressed strong support, but showed gender differences, for several possible election issues: Latino women were more likely than men to agree that same-sex couples have the right to legal marital status (71.3 percent and 57.8 percent, respectively) and that the federal government should do more to control the sale of handguns (83.3 percent and 72 percent, respectively). Latino women and men both strongly support the statements that a national health care plan is needed to cover everybody's medical costs (79.6 percent and 74.2 percent, respectively) and that the federal government is not doing enough to control environmental pollution (83.7 percent and 78.6 percent, respectively). Latino men were more likely than women to support the statement that federal military spending should be increased (29 percent and 24.1 percent, respectively), but both were less likely to do so than white students (34.3 percent).

Sylvia Hurtado, Victor B. Sáenz, José Luis Santos and Nolan L. Cabrera co-authored the report, and the findings were released at the Association of American Colleges and Universities' "Diversity, Learning, and Inclusive Excellence" conference in October.

For a copy of "Advancing in Higher Education: A Portrait of Latino College Freshmen at Four-Year Institutions: 1975–2006," visit or call the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA at 310-825-1925.

—Kay Randall, Office of the Vice President for Public Affairs, 512-232-3910

Friday, December 12, 2008

Full Appeals Court Hears Union's NCLB Case

Full Appeals Court Hears Union's NCLB Case
December 11, 2008 / By Mark Walsh


The educational and fiscal ramifications of the federal No Child Left Behind Act came under legal review yesterday in an ornate federal appellate courtroom here.
Of course, only a legal question was at issue before the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit: whether a group of school districts backed by the National Education Association has a case in challenging the federal education law as an unfunded mandate.
“States and school districts are prisoners of this law,” Robert H. Chanin, the general counsel of the NEA, told 14 of the appeals court’s 16 active judges here. The other two judges will participate in the outcome of the case after listening to a recording of the oral arguments.

Read rest of story here.

Vol. 28, Issue 16

Math Gains Reported for U.S. Students

December 10, 2008
Math Gains Reported for U.S. Students

American fourth- and eighth-grade students made solid achievement gains in math in recent years and in two states showed spectacular progress, an international survey of student achievement released on Tuesday found. Science performance was flat.

The results showed that several Asian countries continued to outperform the United States greatly in science and math, subjects that are crucial to economic competitiveness and research.

The survey, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, or Timss, found that fourth-grade students in Hong Kong and eighth-grade students in Taiwan were the world’s top scorers in math, while Singapore dominated in science at both grade levels.

“We were pleased to see improvements in math, and wished we’d seen more in science,” said Stuart Kerachsky, acting commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics at the Education Department, which carried out an analysis of the performance of American students on the test.

The latest Timss study, the world’s largest review of math and science achievement, involved testing a representative sample of students in each country in 2007, the first time the tests had been administered since 2003. The results included fourth-grade scores from 36 countries and eighth-grade scores from 48 countries. The tests cover subjects taught in all the participating countries, including algebra, chemistry, geometry and physics.

The study is directed by the International Study Center at Boston College.

Asia’s continuing dominance in math and science, first demonstrated in the 1990s, was especially apparent in the latest results, which showed rising percentages of high-scoring students there.

Nearly half of eighth graders scored at the advanced level in math in Taiwan, Korea and Singapore, compared with 6 percent of American students.

Comparing educational performance in the United States, a diverse country of 300 million people with 50 state educational systems, with city-states like Singapore and Hong Kong, which have populations of 4.5 million and 6.9 million people, respectively, is a bit of apples and oranges.

Still, experts said the Timss study again confirmed the tremendous gains those societies had made in just a few decades.

“It was good to see that the United States has made some progress in math,” said Ina V. S. Mullis, co-director of the Boston College center, “but I was surprised by the magnitude of the gap between us and the highest performing Asian countries, and that should cause us some concern.”

Students in Massachusetts and Minnesota, which participated in a special study that attributed a score to the states as if they were individual countries, also demonstrated stellar achievement, outperforming classmates in all but a handful of countries.

In eighth-grade science, for instance, Massachusetts students, on average, scored higher than or equal to students in all countries but Singapore and Taiwan.

And in Minnesota, which has worked to improve its math curriculum, the proportion of fourth-grade students performing at the advanced level jumped from 9 percent in 1995 to 18 percent in 2007, a gain that was one of the world’s largest.

But on average, the results showed several Asian countries increasing their dominance.

In the fourth-grade math survey, scores in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Kazakhstan, Russia, England and Latvia were higher than in the United States.

Average scores were equal to the United States in the Netherlands, Lithuania, Germany and Denmark. Scores in 23 other countries were significantly lower.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Five Great Educators Who Make a Difference

Five Great Educators Who Make a Difference
By Jay Mathews
Friday, October 17, 2008; 6:39 AM

Columbia University's Teachers College Press comes out next month with a book about five important reformers: James P. Comer, John I. Goodlad, Henry M. Levin, Deborah Meier and Theodore R. Sizer. If you were assembling the leading American thinkers and writers about education, you would have to include these five. They tell the stories of how they became so obsessed with education and what they learned about improving schools in the book "Those Who Dared: Five Visionaries Who Changed American Education."

It occurred to me that a review of the book by an intellectual midget like myself would not do their lives justice. I don't always agree with them, but many readers will say that is my problem, not theirs. So I asked the book's editor, Carl Glickman, co-convener of the Forum for Education and Democracy, if he could persuade each of them to send me a short essay on the best way to help impoverished children learn.

Sizer, a legendary high school reformer, was ill and could not participate, but the other four have sent me the pieces below, plus a bonus essay from Glickman. I am taking a risk, showing how interesting this column would be if written by any of these visionaries, but I think it is worth it:

Deborah Meier, founder of the Central Park East Secondary School and a leader of the small school movement in urban areas:

To my question, "What do our kids who are the most at risk need?" the answer, in one, short sentence, is: exactly what our most advantaged kids need, and then some.

We learn best and most efficiently in the company of those who are demonstrably good at doing what we'd like to do and those whom we can imagine becoming. That's the history of the human species -- and that's precisely what formal schooling has eschewed for most kids.

What do I mean by "and then some"? I mean that we need to widen the possibilities of the type of person these children imagine themselves becoming. Schools must provide interesting adults who demonstrate their talents in the company of students in ways that make those talents seem accessible and worthwhile to the young. Once we have that right, other things will follow.

The only absolute necessity -- the bottom line that makes public education a civil right --is that we must be sure that, during the 12 years they spend in school, our students have lots of opportunities to see how power is exercised. We must provide them with a passion for democratic forms of power, which are not natural and involve complex trade-offs, balancing acts, and tensions. Neither a few experiences with public service nor a few courses in civics will give them this passion. Nothing less than immersion in a culture that values democracy and grapples with its contradictions, limitations, and compromises can prepare students for citizenship.

Also, we need to help our students get in the habit of seeing themselves as potentially powerful beings -- as being full members of the larger public world, not merely an outsider or a passive observer of it. One of the advantages that come with being a member of a powerful family is that one already takes the latter for granted. However, the best schools for the rich make a big point of training for power. One of the disadvantages of being on the edges of society is that one tends to take one's irrelevance in the larger public arena for granted. And the "boot camp" schools we usually design for the poor reinforce that sense of powerlessness.

Of course, our less advantaged children also need to have equal access to high-quality health care and all the other goodies that money buys their more advantaged peers. It takes a powerful school culture working in collaboration with family and community to turn the habits of powerlessness into the aptitudes of powerfulness. This won't happen by imitating traditional schooling -- even the traditional preparatory schooling of the ruling class. The power of the latter comes precisely from its exclusivity; we can't replicate it on a mass scale.

If we want that for everyone, we need to invent new forms of community for adults and students, forms that create laboratories for exploring -- among many subjects -- the nature of democracy.

James P. Comer, the child psychiatrist who pioneered research on raising student achievement among poor minorities via collaborating with parents and community services.

To educate the lowest achieving students (who are most often poor, in rural isolation, or from marginalized minorities), it will be necessary to turn traditional schooling on its conceptual head. The current, mechanical, input-output model that pervades our schooling system and focuses immediately on curriculum, instruction, and assessment must be changed to a model that focuses primarily on relationships, creating a positive culture, and student development.

What reads like a slight difference is a huge and profound change in practice. Development and learning are inextricably linked and take place through a critical dynamic: From birth caretakers interact with the young in ways that make emotional attachment and bonding possible. Through this arrangement, as the young act on their environment to build their own survival and expressive capacities, they can imitate, identify with, and internalize the attitudes, values, and life management styles of their meaningful caretakers.

Also, through this arrangement, caretakers can mediate the physical (including brain construction), psycho-emotional, moral-ethical, linguistic, cognitive-academic learning growth and development of children and students. Most students from mainstream backgrounds -- regardless of their socioeconomic, racial, or regional backgrounds -- experience this dynamic. Children who do not come from mainstream backgrounds, or who have a non-mainstream experience, are more likely to be underdeveloped, or differently developed, and are less likely to be successful in school and in life.

Such children often lack the competencies, confidence, and sense of belonging needed to perform well in school. They often withhold or withdraw, or act in inappropriate ways as they sense failure in the school setting. Nonetheless, many of these students are from vibrant and meaningful subcultures. Their emotional attachment to kin, friends, and the cultural organizations to which they feel they belong is very powerful. Many of these students, even when making academic progress in school, may eventually be highly conflicted about or reject the mainstream school and life culture if there are no positive sanctions and there is no collaboration between home, school, and community.

Most teachers and administrators -- through no fault of their own -- are not prepared to create school cultures that create a sense of belonging, support student development, and positively sanction activities and behaviors that make success possible in school and in the mainstream of the society. Student underdevelopment and staff under-preparation is the major reason that capable students are performing badly.

The way to change this is simple to state, but difficult to bring about. The entire 3 to 4 million-person education workforce needs to be able to create the kind of school culture that supports development, teaching, academic success and life preparation. There is evidence that this can be done. But leadership within each element of the education enterprise -- parents, teachers, school administrators, policymakers at every level and school staff preparatory programs -- must work collaboratively and synchronously to make it possible.

With a focus on the underlying problem, commitment to and an appropriate framework for change, it will be possible to educate all children well.

Henry M. Levin, the economist who has taken education research to new heights in creating the idea of accelerated education, rather than remedial education, for low-achieving students :

What poor children need is what all children need: a nurturing, safe, and stimulating environment that will build on their strengths. Instead, we ignore the nurturance and safety and leave the stimulation to happenstance on the street.

What is clear is that educational policy must support changes in families, neighborhoods, and communities, and not just schools, since only about 10 percent of our children's waking hours are spent in school. But powerful changes need to be pressed upon schools. The types of schools that work for poor children -- and, indeed, all children -- are those that create the richest learning environment and that respond to students' natural wonder and curiosity.

All children are curious. Schools need to be prepared, through a rich curriculum and good instruction, to show all children that their curiosity is an important path for skill development and learning. All children are motivated to learn about the things that puzzle or fascinate them. Schools need to focus on this inquisitiveness by providing children with the skills and opportunities to whet and respond to their curiosity. All children are inquirers, and schools need to provide them with the skills and opportunities to do "research" through conversation and interviews, reading, analysis and contemplation, and then communicate their findings and results to others in a variety of forms, including artistic expression. Computers and electronic media can be important tools in fulfilling these roles.

As children see that their curiosity is valued, they also see that they need to acquire a range of skills to satisfy their curiosity. This is a rather different path to skill acquisition than the arbitrary drill-centered, teaching-to-a-test approach required by No Child Left Behind regulations.

The enriched approach that I am advocating has been used in over 1,000 Accelerated Schools in the United States and abroad with superior results in both basic and advanced skills. In this approach, all students are treated as gifted, and teachers and schools identify students' strengths and then build instructional experiences and needed skill development. Central to this approach is the concept of powerful learning, which integrates curriculum, instruction and school organization-- just as we do for gifted and talented students. In this context, children see meaning in their lessons and perceive the connections between school activities and their experiences outside of the school.

Children become active learners, rather than simply memorizing worksheets, and they develop their natural talents and gifts, applying them in creative ways to solve problems and make decisions, thereby becoming responsible and informed citizens. The overall key is to replace remediation for all children with academic enrichment.

John I. Goodlad, a leading intellect and statesman on the role of education in a democracy:

The small lens of observing problems of schooling narrows the scope of analysis and remediation. Consequently, the present one-size-fits-all model of so-called school reform has led to a narrow curriculum and a reliance on tests of academic achievement as the sole criterion of individual and school quality. Not surprisingly, the scope of efforts to reduce the to-be-expected gap in pupil achievement is confined to the obvious, such as calling for harder work on the part of principals, teachers and pupils. Modest returns become the norm.

The consequences are much more complex and serious than the immediately obvious. Increasing nationwide adherence to this model has significantly decreased the comprehensiveness and relevance of school-based teaching and learning to the point of endangering the longstanding democratic public purpose of schooling. Decades of research on cognition reveal little relationship between standardized academic test scores and the human traits we value highly, such as good work habits, compassion, honesty, dependability, perseverance, respect for self and others and any other of the virtues that provide the moral grounding of our democracy. Major studies reveal widespread public expectations for our schools to embrace the personal, social, vocational and academic development of their students.

We want it all but presently are getting very little. Why, then, waste time and resources, deprive our people of the potential educative power of our schools and endanger the making of a democratic people by narrowing the criterion of school success to academic test scores? We might as well ask, "Why try to fix something that isn't broken but doesn't work?"

I've spent six decades in, around, or studying schools, schooling and teacher education. Tests have been the very backbone of the enterprise for more than four of those decades. We will always have tests; they can be very useful. What the tests of the past 40-plus years told teachers, most already knew -- and, if they didn't, they should have been in another occupation.

Most parents and students were made aware, too, especially at the end of each year, when grade failures were announced. What might have been the reaction of all three groups -- teachers, parents and students -- and all those people in the larger schooling enterprise had they known that slow learners who are promoted to the next grade do as well or better the following year than do matched groups of slow learners who are not promoted? Isn't it time to quit tinkering with a worn-out system that hardened into its present deep structure nearly a hundred years ago? We will not have the schools we need until we come together around the idea that renewing our public schools, one by one, from sea to sea, is the essential starting point for renewing our democracy.

Some of us who are now considered to be "over the hill" stand (or sit) ready to help.

Carl Glickman produced this piece on reducing the dropout rate among urban and rural poor youth with his colleagues on the High School Completion Task Force of the Education Policy and Evaluation Center, part of the University of Georgia's education school:

If there were to be a comprehensive effort for reducing the dropout rate, it would address these known factors:

Students drop out of school because they are uninterested in what they are being taught. This issue can only be resolved by changing school curriculum to make it more active, engaging and relevant. This means providing more up-to-date books, technology and teaching materials; integrated experiences that build on students' interests; and supports that allow classroom teachers to teach in ways that make students want to learn.

Students drop out because they need to support themselves or their parents and siblings, or they have their own children to care for but do not have access to child care. To solve this problem, schools need to coordinate with social agencies and child care and school hours need to be more flexible.

Students drop out because they feel alienated in school. Some students are the victims of bullying and harassment by fellow students, while others leave due to involvement in violence, drugs and other criminal behavior. Still others have an abusive home situation or find their identity in a gang. This shows a need for programs that teach tolerance and acceptance of differences to both school personnel and students. Also, alternative and transitional programs are needed for troubled students, along with more follow-up work at home with families and youth agencies.

Students drop out when they fail state exit exams due to language difficulties; when they are taught by teachers who are certified, but not in the subjects those teachers are asked to teach; or when students have high test anxiety when they are under pressure to perform on standardized exams. There need to be incentives for hiring more in-field teachers and language specialists, providing more professional development for veteran teachers and offering more flexibility in how students can demonstrate what they have learned.

Students drop out because they feel anonymous in large schools in which they do not receive ongoing personal attention and support from the same teachers and counselors for multiple years. Large schools should be broken up into smaller team units or smaller schools, classroom time should be reorganized and class sizes should be reduced so that teachers and counselors can come to know each student well over the course of many years.

Students drop out as a result of nonexistent or poor quality of early childhood programs. High-quality early childhood programs have been proven to help students do well in school and in their adult life. This means that every child, from infancy on, needs a developmentally appropriate, integrated curriculum, complete with rich language experiences and manipulative activities, provided by well-prepared early childhood educators.

Economists Clive Belfield and Henry Levin of Teachers College found that with every additional dollar spent on high-quality programs to keep high school students in school until graduation, the economy benefits by a return of $1.30. Just as important, every student who graduates high school adds to the core of knowledgeable and active citizens of one's neighborhood, state and nation.

Can we afford not to act? Only if we do not care about our common future.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.
© 2008 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive

Who Will He Choose?

Brooks' analysis has a lot of problems. It's simply not an accurate representation to say that Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond at Stanford University represents the status quo. No serious reading of her work would lead to this conclusion.


December 5, 2008
Who Will He Choose?

As in many other areas, the biggest education debates are happening within the Democratic Party. On the one hand, there are the reformers like Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee, who support merit pay for good teachers, charter schools and tough accountability standards. On the other hand, there are the teachers’ unions and the members of the Ed School establishment, who emphasize greater funding, smaller class sizes and superficial reforms.

During the presidential race, Barack Obama straddled the two camps. One campaign adviser, John Schnur, represented the reform view in the internal discussions. Another, Linda Darling-Hammond, was more likely to represent the establishment view. Their disagreements were collegial (this is Obamaland after all), but substantive.

In public, Obama shifted nimbly from camp to camp while education experts studied his intonations with the intensity of Kremlinologists. Sometimes, he flirted with the union positions. At other times, he practiced dog-whistle politics, sending out reassuring signals that only the reformers could hear.

Each camp was secretly convinced that at the end of the day, Obama would come down on their side. The reformers were cheered when Obama praised a Denver performance pay initiative. The unions could take succor from the fact that though Obama would occasionally talk about merit pay, none of his actual proposals contradicted their positions.

Obama never had to pick a side. That is, until now. There is only one education secretary, and if you hang around these circles, the air is thick with speculation, anticipation, anxiety, hope and misinformation. Every day, new rumors are circulated and new front-runners declared. It’s kind of like being in a Trollope novel as Lord So-and-So figures out to whom he’s going to propose.

You can measure the anxiety in the reformist camp by the level of nervous phone chatter each morning. Weeks ago, Obama announced that Darling-Hammond would lead his transition team and reformist cellphones around the country lit up. Darling-Hammond, a professor at Stanford, is a sharp critic of Teach for America and promotes weaker reforms.

Anxieties cooled, but then one morning a few weeks ago, I got a flurry of phone calls from reform leaders nervous that Obama was about to side against them. I interviewed people in the president-elect’s inner circle and was reassured that the reformers had nothing to worry about. Obama had not gone native.

Obama’s aides point to his long record on merit pay, his sympathy for charter schools and his tendency to highlight his commitment to serious education reform.

But the union lobbying efforts are relentless and in the past week prospects for a reforming education secretary are thought to have dimmed. The candidates before Obama apparently include: Joel Klein, the highly successful New York chancellor who has, nonetheless, been blackballed by the unions; Arne Duncan, the reforming Chicago head who is less controversial; Darling-Hammond herself; and some former governor to be named later, with Darling-Hammond as the deputy secretary.

In some sense, the final option would be the biggest setback for reform. Education is one of those areas where implementation and the details are more important than grand pronouncements. If the deputies and assistants in the secretary’s office are not true reformers, nothing will get done.

The stakes are huge. For the first time in decades, there is real momentum for reform. It’s not only Rhee and Klein — the celebrities — but also superintendents in cities across America who are getting better teachers into the classrooms and producing measurable results. There is an unprecedented political coalition building, among liberals as well as conservatives, for radical reform.

No Child Left Behind is about to be reauthorized. Everyone has reservations about that law, but it is the glaring spotlight that reveals and pierces the complacency at mediocre schools. If accountability standards are watered down, as the establishment wants, then real reform will fade.

This will be a tough call for Obama, because it will mean offending people, but he can either galvanize the cause of reform or demoralize it. It’ll be one of the biggest choices of his presidency.

Many of the reformist hopes now hang on Obama’s friend, Arne Duncan. In Chicago, he’s a successful reformer who has produced impressive results in a huge and historically troubled system. He has the political skills necessary to build a coalition on behalf of No Child Left Behind reauthorization. Because he is close to both Obamas, he will ensure that education doesn’t fall, as it usually does, into the ranks of the second-tier issues.

If Obama picks a reformer like Duncan, Klein or one of the others, he will be picking a fight with the status quo. But there’s never been a better time to have that fight than right now.

Paul Krugman is off today.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Movie will focus on Supreme Court decision that led to more rights for Hispanics

This is wonderful! -Angela

Movie will focus on Supreme Court decision that led to more rights for

By Charles Ealy
Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Wildfire Films, a new movie production company based in Austin,
announced Tuesday that it is planning to start work early next year on
a feature film about legendary Hispanic civil rights leader Gustavo
"Gus" Garcia in Texas.

The movie, titled "16 Minutes," is expected to focus on the lawyer's
flamboyant, rough-and-tumble life leading up to his 16 minutes of
arguments before the Supreme Court in the landmark 1954 civil rights
case Hernandez v. Texas.

The high court's decision, which helped establish equal protection
under the law for Hispanics, was decided only a few days before Brown
v. Board of Education, the widely known landmark ruling that led to
the end of public-school segregation for black Americans. But some
historians have since argued that the Hernandez case was just as
important and has been unjustly overlooked by history.

The same argument can be made for Garcia, says Isidro Aguirre, a
script consultant who has been researching the Texan's life since
1984. "It's important to recognize our heroes," Aguirre says, "and
many people in Texas and around the country have never even heard of
Gus Garcia," an alcoholic who died destitute in a San Antonio park in
1964. Garcia also was instrumental in Delgado v. Bastrop, an attack on
the segretation of Mexican Americans in Texas schools.

Wildfire Films representatives said Tuesday that "16 Minutes" would be
the first in what they hope will be a series of Hollywood-style movies
to be shot in Texas in the coming years.

Operating from an expected base at the Austin Film Studios, the
company's partners are: Anton Diether, a longtime writer with such
credits as the Hallmark TV series "Moby Dick"; Mark Hacker, a story
editor and script consultant who's working on the screenplay for "16
Minutes" with a team of writers, including Austin playwright Amparo
Garcia Crow; Leon Rodriguez, who recently directed "Double Tap,"
starring Daniel Baldwin, and will be the director of "16 Minutes"; and
Jesus "Chuy" Carrera, an art department/set designer specialist whose
most recent project is 20th Century Fox's upcoming film "Dragonball."

Wildfire said it has partnered with Fred Roos Productions, Overture
Films, Starz Media and other companies to help finance coming
productions. A budget of $25 million is expected for "16 Minutes," the
partners said.

Rebecca Campbell, head of the Austin Film Society, said she welcomed
the news of Wildfire's upcoming work in Texas, "especially during a
time when productions have been moving to Shreveport and elsewhere
because of incentives being offered in other states." She expressed
hope that a new incentives package, kicking the current five-percent
tax break for filming in Texas to 10 or 15 percent, would make its way
through the 2009 legislative session to help preserve filmmaking in
Austin and the rest of the state.

Wildfire said it has not yet decided who will play Garcia in the
movie, which may begin shooting in South Texas as early as February.

The legal case that will serve as the climax for "16 Minutes" deals
with a Mexican-American laborer, Pete Hernandez, who was indicted for
murder after a killing in a bar fight in Jackson County.

He was convicted by an all-white jury, but Garcia, who was the legal
counsel for the League of United Latin American Citizens, and other
lawyers argued that the 14th Amendment ensured that Hispanics were a
distinct group with the same constitutional protections as other
minorities. Specifically, they argued that race and class were factors
in the exclusion of Hispanics from Jackson County juries. In a
unanimous verdict, Earl Warren, who was then the high court's chief
justice, ordered a new trial for Hernandez. Hernandez was re-tried and

With additional material from film critic Chris Garcia.


Americans Claim to Like Diverse Communities but Do They Really?

Americans Claim to Like Diverse Communities but Do They Really?
by Paul Taylor and Richard Morin, Pew Research Center
December 2, 2008

About six-in-ten Americans say they like the idea of living in politically, racially, religiously or economically mixed communities, while about a quarter take the opposite view: They would rather live in communities made up mostly of people like themselves. The rest say they have no strong opinion on the issue, according to a new nationwide Pew Research Center Social & Demographic Trends survey.

This preference for diverse communities is greater among Democrats, liberals, college graduates, blacks, and secular Americans than it is among the population as a whole. But virtually all major groups, at least to some degree, choose diversity over homogeneity when asked where they would like to live.
Despite these pro-diversity attitudes, however, American communities appear to have grown more politically and economically homogenous in recent decades, according to analyses of election returns and U.S. Census data.
Most notably, nearly half (48%) of all votes for president in 2008 were cast in counties that went either for Barack Obama or for John McCain by a margin of at least 20 percentage points. Back in 1976, only 27% of all voters lived in such "landslide counties," according to figures compiled by Bill Bishop and Robert Cushing, authors of "The Big Sort," a book which argues that Americans are clustering into politically like-minded enclaves.1
It's not clear whether this residential political polarization is a result of explicit decisions by people who move or a byproduct of other demographic trends. But either way, the pattern runs contrary to the attitudes expressed by a sizable majority of the public in the Pew Research Center telephone survey, which was conducted from Oct. 3 through Oct. 19 among a nationally representative sample of 2,260 adults. Survey respondents were asked if they would rather live in a community where most people share their own political views or one with a mix of different political views. Similar questions were posed about attitudes toward racial, religious and socioeconomic diversity, and about the public's receptivity to living among immigrants. The survey's key findings:

Some 63% of Americans say they would rather live in a community where people have a mix of political views; while 24% say they would prefer to live mainly among people who share their political views. The groups most inclined to say they prefer to live in politically like-minded communities include Republicans generally (35%), conservative Republicans (43%) and Hispanics (35%). The groups most inclined to say they prefer politically diverse communities include blacks (69%), independents (74%) and people earning more than $100,000 a year (72%).
Rural residents are a bit less inclined than those who live in cities, suburbs or small towns to say they favor politically diverse communities.
Likewise, people who live in "landslide counties" are less favorably disposed to politically diverse communities than are other Americans.
For example, while just 35% of all Republicans say they would prefer living in a politically homogeneous community, 44% of Republicans who live in a county that voted 60% or more for the GOP presidential candidate in both 2008 and 2004 say they would prefer to live in a politically homogenous community. The pattern is similar on the Democratic side. Among all Democrats, just 24% say they would rather live in a politically homogeneous community. But among Democrats who live in a county that voted for the Democratic presidential candidate by at least 60% in 2004 and 2008, some 31% say they prefer living among people who share their political views.

These findings raise some intriguing chicken-and-egg questions. Do people who are less enamored of diversity gravitate to communities where they know they will be among neighbors who share their political views? Or, alternatively, does living in a politically homogeneous community diminish a person's tolerance for diversity? Or might there be other explanations for these correlations?
The data are inconclusive on these questions. Comparing the attitudes of respondents who have moved into a landslide county in the past decade with those who have lived in such communities most or all their lives, one finds no statistically significant difference between the attitudes of each group toward community diversity.
The survey also shows that, broadly speaking, public attitudes about political diversity in a community line up closely with attitudes about racial, religious and socioeconomic diversity. A rundown of these other findings:

Some 65% of Americans say they would rather live in a community composed of a mix of racial and ethnic groups, while 20% say they would rather live in a community made up mainly of people who are the same race as they are. Democrats say they prefer racial diversity over homogeneity by 73%-15%; Republicans say they prefer racial diversity over homogeneity by a smaller margin -- 52%-32%. Blacks say they prefer racially and ethnically mixed communities to mainly black communities by a lopsided 83%-to-9% margin. Whites say they prefer racially and ethnically mixed communities over mainly white communities by a smaller, but still sizable margin of 60% to 23%. Hispanics fall in between -- 69% prefer racial and ethnic diversity in their communities, while 21% would rather live in a place where most people are the same race and ethnicity as them.
There are also significant differences on this question by age, with the preference for homogeneity greater among older adults than young ones. And geographically, the Midwest stands out as the region where there is the least support for racially diverse community -- though even among Midwesterners, diversity is preferred over homogeneity by a margin of more than two-to-one.

Some 59% of Americans say they would rather live in a community where there are many people with different religions, while 25% say they would prefer to live mainly among people who are the same religion as they are. Some 40% of white evangelicals, 42% of Hispanic Catholics, 38% of those who attend religious services at least weekly and 41% of conservative Republicans say they would rather live in communities mainly filled with people who share their religion. By contrast, just 14% of liberal Democrats, 20% of all Democrats, 14% of those who seldom or never attend religious services, 18% of college graduates and 21% of white non-Hispanic Catholics say they would prefer to live mainly among people who are the same religion as they are.
Socioeconomic status

Some 61% of Americans say they would rather live in a community which is home to a mix of people in the upper, middle and lower classes, while 32% say they would rather live in a place where most people are the same social and economic class as they are. Liberal Democrats prefer diversity on this front by a margin of 71%-24%; conservative Republicans by a narrower margin of 59%-34%. The preference for living in an economically diverse community rises with rising socioeconomic status.
Some 66% of college graduates say they would rather live in socially and economically mixed communities; compared with just 56% of those who have a high school degree or less. Similarly, 68% of those who earn $100,000 a year or more opt for diversity, compared with just 55% of those who earn less than $30,000 a year.

This question was not worded the same as the others: Respondents were asked if they preferred living in a community with a large or small immigrant population. Perhaps because of the wording difference (necessitated by the fact that just one-in-eight Americans are immigrants), this is the only question in the battery to which a minority of respondents gave the pro-diversity answer. By 56%-24%, Americans say they prefer living in a community with a small rather than large immigrant population. Groups in which the smallest shares of people say they would want to live among a lot of immigrants include those over age 65 (12%), those who live in rural areas (12%), and conservative Republicans (14%). Groups most receptive to living in communities with a lot of immigrants include liberal Democrats (44%), Hispanics (40%), city dwellers (33%), Westerners (33%) and college graduates (32%).

Group Differences

Looking at the responses by various groups to this full battery of questions, one finds that the largest gaps in attitudes are by partisanship and ideology. Some 58% of Democrats, compared with just 35% of Republicans, give the diversity-oriented response to at least four of the five questions. Combining ideology with partisanship produces an even larger gap; 65% of liberal Democrats, but just 32% of conservative Republicans, give the pro-diversity responses to four of the five questions. Self-described independents are much closer to Democrats than to Republicans in their views; 57% of independents give the pro-diversity response to at least four of the five questions.
Educational attainment is another characteristic that divides respondents to these questions. Some 62% of college graduates, compared with just 46% of those with no more than a high school degree, give the pro-diversity response to at least four of the five questions.
There are smaller group differences by age, race and church attendance. Some 59% of blacks, compared with 50% of whites and 46% of Hispanics give the pro-diversity response to at least four of the five questions. Some 55% of those who seldom or never attend religious services, compared with 44% of those who attend weekly or more, give the pro-diversity responses to at least four of the five questions. And 53% of those ages 18 to 64, compared with 41% of those ages 65 and older, give the pro-diversity response to at least four of the five questions.
The Facts on the Ground
All of these survey findings raise an obvious question: Is the public's generally strong preference for diverse communities to be taken at face value, or might it be based in part on respondents choosing the answers they deem to be socially desirable?
While it's impossible to know for sure, it is worth noting that residential segregation has long been a fact of life in America, and that, at least by certain measures, some varieties of segregation appear to be on the rise.
The most pervasive forms of residential segregation, by far, are racial and ethnic. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, while blacks comprise just 12% of the U.S. population, about half of all blacks in 2000 lived in majority-black neighborhoods.2 Hispanics also tend to be clustered into segregated enclaves, though not quite to the same degree as are blacks. Latinos made up 12.5% of the U.S. population and 43% lived in majority-Latino neighborhoods as of 2000. (The table below ranks the nation's most populous multi-racial and multi-ethnic metropolitan areas by their levels of black/non-black and Hispanic/non-Hispanic residential segregation.)
Trends in residential segregation have been mixed over the past several decades. Black/white segregation has declined significantly since 1960, when fully 70% of blacks lived in majority black neighborhoods.3 But immigrant segregation as well as Hispanic and Asian segregation has increased in recent decades,4 as has overall economic segregation. From 1970 to 2000, there was a 32% increase in the residential separation of high-income Americans (those in the top income quintile) from all other Americans, according to one analysis of Census data.5 Even with this increasing spatial isolation of the well-to-do, however, blacks are still nearly three times as segregated from whites as are affluent Americans from those who are less well off.
What about trends in political segregation? The very durability of the buzzwords "Red America" and "Blue America" is a testament to a fairly entrenched political map in which most of the nation's 50 states have voted reliably for one party or the other (at least in presidential contests) for many decades. And, as Bishop and Cushing have demonstrated, this political polarization by geography increasingly now extends down to the county level as well.
However, a note of caution is in order: counties and communities are not one and the same. Large counties can contain scores of communities, many with differing demographic and political profiles. Thus, the increasingly polarized voting patterns at the county level, while consistent with a trend toward self-selection into politically like-minded communities, is not proof that such a trend exists.

Moreover, not even Bishop says he believes that people choose where to live in order to be among neighbors who vote as they do. Rather, he theorizes that they choose to live among people who share their backgrounds, tastes and lifestyles -- and that these likenesses, increasingly, correlate with like-minded political views.6
There's some evidence in support of this "big sort" theory from recent election returns and Census data - but very little from the new Pew Research survey. It may just be that, when the subject is community diversity, Americans talk one way but behave another.

Find survey methodology, topline questionnaire and acknowledgements at
1 The share of the vote cast in "landslide counties" grew from 27% in 1976 to 38% in 1992 to 45% in 2000 to 48% in 2004 and again in 2008, according to Bishop. But this 48% figure for votes cast in landslide counties in 2008, while high by modern standards, is not unusual by historic norms. For example, in the landslide elections of 1972, 1964 and 1936, more than half of all votes were cast in a "landslide county." This metric of political polarization is a product of two very different components - the overall competitiveness of a given presidential campaign (which can vary widely from one election to the next) and the political dissimilarities between counties (where trends are more stable and change is more gradual). For more, see this article by Bill Bishop: Also, see Klinkner, Philip A. and Ann Hapanowicz, "Red and Blue Déjà Vu: Measuring Political Polarization in the 2004 Election." 2005. The Forum. Volume 3, Issue 2.
2 In these analyses, a "neighborhood" is a census tract -- a geographic unit which generally has about 4,000 inhabitants and, when first delineated, is designed to be relatively homogeneous with respect to population characteristics, economic conditions and political boundaries.
3 Glaeser, Edward L. and Jacob L. Vigdor. 2001. Racial Segregation in the 2000 Census: Promising News. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution.
4 Logan, John R., and Brian J. Stults and Reynolds Farley. 2004. "Segregation of Minorities in the Metropolis: Two Decades of Change," Demography, vol. 41 (1), pages 1-22.
5 Fischer, Claude S., Gretchen Stockmayer, Jon Stiles, and Michael Hout. 2004. "Distinguishing the Geographic Levels and Social Dimensions of U.S. Metropolitan Segregation, 1960-2000," Demography, vol. 41 (1), pages 37-59.
6 Interview with author, Nov. 14, 2008.

Immigrant Rights Signed Away?

By Jennifer Lee Koh, Esq. | New America Media.
December 4, 2008.

Government officials have convinced tens of thousands of immigrants to sign away their rights without consulting with an attorney.

In the past several years, nearly 100,000 non-citizens have been silently sent to their home countries under a federal government program called “stipulated removal.” Most of these 100,000 were in immigration detention. A vast majority had no criminal record. An overwhelming number did not have a lawyer. Under these conditions, government officials convinced them to sign pieces of paper that allowed the government to remove them right away, without a hearing before an immigration judge. It is not a surprise, then, that advocates are hearing reports that some were pressured to sign those papers.

Nonetheless, the Bush administration has aggressively expanded stipulated removal all over the country, with its use of stipulated removal orders rising by 535 percent between 2004 and 2008. They have a right to know what will happen when the government asks them to sign a piece of paper. And the public has a right to know if the government is violating due process by coercing or pressuring people to sign away their rights.

Here’s how stipulated removal works: Government officials present immigrants with a stipulated removal order. If immigrants sign the paper, then the government can issue a removal order against them. Once the government convinces them to sign the stipulated order, they give up their right to go before an immigration judge and have a hearing. Even if the law could give them a chance to stay here legally (for example, if they have U.S. citizen family members, face persecution in their home country, or are victims of a crime), the government can still send them back. After they are removed, they are barred from returning for 10 years, if they would otherwise have a legal way of doing coming back. And they face serious penalties (including criminal prosecution) if they do re-enter. No judge ever explains these things to the immigrants.

Who are the nearly 100,000 immigrants who were sent to their home countries under stipulated removal? According to information released by the government in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, most were in immigration detention, miles away from their friends and family. Many could not afford the bond payments that could have enabled them to be released and fight their cases. Ninety-five percent didn’t have lawyers, and so may never have known if they could have applied to stay in the country legally. Ninety-three percent had no criminal record. Most were from Mexico, but many also came from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Colombia. They lived in communities all over the country -- San Francisco, Calif.; Chicago, Ill.; Atlanta, Ga. and Boston, Mass., to name just a few cities where government agents have used stipulated removal.

Equally disturbing are the stories that the government hasn’t told us, but that advocates have heard from communities across the nation. Advocates regularly hear stories of immigrants who sign stipulated orders, but who don’t understand what they were giving up. These immigrants tell stories of being pressured by government officials to sign the stipulated orders or else face longer jail time in immigration detention. They are given an unfair choice: either sign their own removal order or stay in jail. There are even reports of local police pressuring immigrants to sign their own removal orders.

Communities across the country deserve to know more about stipulated removal.

Despite its massive use of stipulated removal, the Bush administration has refused to provide many important details about the program to the public. The Stanford Law School Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, National Immigration Law Center, ACLU of Southern California, and National Lawyers’ Guild San Francisco chapter recently filed a lawsuit in federal court, asking a judge to order the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice to provide answers about stipulated removal. We still don’t know, for example, how government agents choose which immigrants are targeted for stipulated removal.

We don’t know whether the government has done anything to ensure that immigrants are not pressured to sign these orders without understanding their rights. How are government agents trained on using stipulated removal? Are certain nationalities being targeted? If the government plans to continue the stipulated removal program, then the public has a right to know how it is going to be used. A program that pushes immigrants out of the country without knowing their basic rights raises due process concerns, and should be brought into the open.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Parents fight proposed school closures

By LINDA BYRON / KING 5 News and Charlotte Starck / KING 5 News
Thursday, December 4, 2008

SEATTLE – The list of proposed school closures in the city of Seattle grew Wednesday night.

Rainier Beach High School is now on the list. It could be combined with Cleveland High School. Another elementary school in the area may be closed, bringing the number of proposed closures from seven to nine. Other schools that could be cut include TT Minor, Pinehurst, Van Asselt, Genesee Hill, Mann, Old Hay, and Lowell.

Even as parents band together to save their schools, the Seattle School Board will soon have to sharpen its ax to propose even deeper cuts to other areas.

The proposed Seattle school budget gap has exploded into a canyon and many parents who packed a school board meeting Wednesday night disagree with how the superintendent proposes to bridge it.

"Bottom line is to have stronger schools. We have to be more effective and efficient, with quality programs and access all across the city," said Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson.

In addition to closing schools, the Superintendent proposes relocating many others programs. In addition, a number of programs, including the African American Academy, would go away even if the building stays open to house new programs.

But even those proposed cuts fail to make up the enormous amount of cash needed.

The school board heard how the previous projected $24 million shortfall has now skyrocketed to projected $37 million, based on the state's economic woes and the projected school closures are expected to save only an estimated $3.6 million.

They're just one small piece of the overall budget pie, but an extremely emotional one. Yet more difficult decisions are on the way.

The district's financial experts predict the new higher projected budget shortage means Seattle schools now must identify where to cut an additional $10.2 million.

Protests have blocked school closures in the past but the superintendent says it's not going to work this time around.

"I just don't think that's effective. I understand that people are emotional, very tied to their school," she said.

Still, people who came to Wednesday night's meeting wondered whether school closures are the way to go.

"I can't begin to share with you the rage, confusion, the fear that this recommendation has caused across our city," parent Michael Foster said.

"It seems that the district is in a panic," parent Laura Grauer said.

Public hearings and community workshops will be held during December and January at locations throughout Seattle.

Each of the buildings recommended for closure will host a public hearing on December 15, 16 or 18. Scheduled dates and times are listed below.

The School Board is scheduled to vote on the final recommendations on January 29, 2009.

Change Immigrants and Labor Can Believe In

By David Bacon | The Nation
November 26, 2008

Since 2001 the Bush administration has deported more than a million people--including 349,041 individuals in the fiscal year ending just prior to the election. It has resurrected the discredited community sweeps and factory raids of earlier eras, and started sending waves of migrants to privately run jails for crimes like inventing a Social Security number to get a job. Every day in Tucson seventy young people, including many teenagers, are brought before a federal judge in heavy chains and sentenced to prison because they walked across the border.

It's no wonder that Latinos, Asians and other communities with large immigrant populations voted for Barack Obama by huge margins. People want and expect a change. Ending the administration's failed program of raids, jail time and deportations is at the top of the list. National demonstrations have called for a moratorium on raids since the summer, and one big reason why Los Angeles turned out so heavily for Obama was the anti-raid encampment and hunger strike in the Placita Olvera, which electrified the city.

But the raids program has been rejected by more than immigrants alone. The election took place as millions of people were losing their jobs and homes. Yet while Lou Dobbs and the talk show hysteria-mongers tried to scapegoat immigrants for this crisis ("What about illegal don't you understand?"), most voters did not drink the Kool-Aid. In fact, every poll shows that a big majority reject raids and want basic rights and fair treatment for everyone, immigrants included. The political coalition that put Obama into office--African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, women and union families--expects change.

The country needs not just an end to raids but a move away from the policies they've been intended to promote. From the beginning, the administration's enforcement program has been cynically designed to pressure Congress into re-establishing discredited guest-worker schemes called "close to slavery" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, being reminiscent of the old bracero program. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff called these raids "closing the back door and opening the front door."

At least Chertoff was honest about his intentions. His underlings at Homeland Security, like Julie Myers, head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), tried to pretend that the imprisonment and deportation of abused workers was a form of labor standards enforcement. Meanwhile, actual protection for US wages, working conditions and union rights has been in free fall for eight years. Other Homeland Security officials mendaciously claimed immigrants were a threat to national security, as though imprisoning hungry teenagers or terrorized workers would help a fearful public to sleep at night.

No one whose eyes are open to the terrible human suffering caused by these draconian policies will be very sorry to see Chertoff go. But what policies will take their place, and who will enforce them? So far, the choice of Janet Napolitano is not encouraging. The Tucson "Operation Streamline" court convenes in her home state every day, and the situation of immigrants in Arizona is worse than almost anywhere else.

Napolitano herself has publicly supported most of the worst ideas of the Bush administration, including guest-worker programs with no amnesty for the currently undocumented, and brutal enforcement schemes like E-Verify and workplace raids. But Obama does not have to be imprisoned by the failure of Napolitano to imagine a more progressive alternative. In fact, his new administration's need to respond to the economic crisis, and to strengthen the political coalition that won the election, can open new possibilities for a just and fair immigration policy.

Economic crisis does not have to pit working people against one other, or lead to the further demonization of immigrants. In fact, there is common ground between immigrants, communities of color, unions, churches, civil rights organizations and working families. Legalization and immigrant rights can be tied to guaranteeing jobs for anyone who wants to work, and unions to raise wages and win better conditions for everyone in the workplace.

These are not revolutionary demands. In fact, they're what the Democratic Party used to stand for. Nor is the idea of combining them into a common program that is not just pie-in-the-sky. For two sessions of Congress, the Black Caucus and leaders like Sheila Jackson Lee and Barbara Lee have proposed legislation to create jobs, at the same time offering rights and legal status to immigrants without papers. The AFL-CIO's campaign for the Employee Free Choice Act supports the surest means of ending the low-wage, second-class status of immigrant workers-- organizing unions. And repealing unfair trade agreements and ending structural adjustment policies would raise the standard of living and reduce the pressure for migration in Oaxaca or El Salvador, while making jobs more secure in working-class communities in the United States.

Justice for immigrants does not have to be the third rail of US politics, as Rahm Emmanuel has called it. Instead, immigrant rights is the demand of one part of a broad coalition that seeks fundamental social change. Immigrants can't achieve justice on their own, but then no element of this coalition can win its demands in isolation. Only a common-ground strategy can actually achieve the changes people hoped for when they went to the polls. Stopping the raids is the first step in a process that will help to end the nightmare of the past few years, and at the same time can help the administration begin to address the larger issues of immigration reform, jobs and workplace rights.

Something is clearly wrong with immigration enforcement. Desperate workers get fired and deported, families get terrorized and divided, while the government protects employers and seeks to turn a family-based immigration system into a managed labor supply for business. Even before presenting a reform plan to Congress, the Obama administration has the power to change some of the worst elements of the Bush program by administrative and executive action. What Bush put in place by fiat can be changed by the same process. In its first 100 days, a new administration could take simple steps to protect human and workplace rights, instead of allowing the abuse to continue:

* Stop ICE from seeking serious federal criminal charges, with incarceration in privately run prisons, when a worker lacks papers or has a bad Social Security number.

* Stop raiding workplaces, especially where workers are trying to organize unions or enforce wage and hour laws. This would help all workers, not just immigrants.

* Halt community sweeps, checkpoints and roadblocks, where agents use warrants for one or two people to detain and deport dozens of others. End the government's campaign to repeal local sanctuary ordinances and drag local law enforcement into immigration raids.

* Double the paltry 742 federal inspectors responsible for all US wage and hour violations and focus on industries where immigrants are concentrated. The National Labor Relations Board could target employers who use immigration threats to violate union rights.

* Allow all workers to apply for a Social Security number and pay legally into a system that benefits everyone. Social Security numbers should be used for their true purpose--paying retirement and disability benefits--not to fire immigrants from their jobs and send them to prison.

* Re-establish worker protections, ended under Bush, connected with existing guest-worker programs; force employers to hire domestically first and decertify any contractor guilty of labor violations.

* Restore human rights in border communities, stop construction of the border wall between the US and Mexico, and disband the Operation Streamline federal court, where scores of young border crossers are sent to prison in chains every day.

Democrats still have to decide what reforms to bring before Congress, and when. Some would delay action for a year or more. But the US Chamber of Commerce and dozens of trade groups have been pushing for years for big guest-worker programs. They are more than willing to accept raids and enforcement as a price, and are already working to bring back the "comprehensive" bills that would give them what they want. Instead of arguing over "what's politically possible" in Congress, immigrant and labor rights activists need a movement for a progressive alternative.

That alternative has to strengthen human rights on both sides of the global divide. In countries like Mexico and the Philippines, the families of migrants are fighting for real development instead of poverty, forced migration and a remittance-based economy. Here in the United States, movements in immigrant communities have brought millions of people into the streets on May Day, and continue to fight the raids and deportations. We need proposals that address both the situation of immigrants here and the conditions in their countries that force them to migrate.

To move towards equality and rights in the United States:

A law to give permanent residence (green-card) visas to the undocumented, and clear up the backlog of people already waiting for them abroad. If visas were more easily available, people wouldn't have to cross the border without them. Employer sanctions that make it a crime for immigrants to hold a job should be repealed. Guest-worker programs with a record of abuse should be ended, as they were in 1964.

To end the displacement at the root of most forced migration:

A new approach to trade policy, including renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and rejection of potential new trade agreements with countries like Colombia. Protecting corporate access to markets and low wages leads to rising poverty and the displacement of communities. We need to concentrate on the welfare of people at the bottom rather than the top, help grassroots communities of farmers stay on their land, and boost wages and employment for urban workers. Instead of subsidizing war and displacement, US tax dollars could expand rural credit, education and healthcare abroad, easing the pressure behind migration.

A new administration that has raised such high expectations should look for new ideas in the areas of immigration reform and trade policy, not recycle the bad ones of the last few years. The constituency that won the election will support a change in direction, and in fact is demanding it. The Obama administration owes its victory to that constituency, and its promises of change that brought it to the polls. Now it needs to deliver.

As Latinos tilt Democratic, can Texas stay ‘red’?

The Lone Star State is the last big GOP bastion where Hispanics are a sizable voting bloc.

By Michael B. Farrell | Staff writer / November 25, 2008 edition

When President Bush says so long to Washington on Jan. 20, he’ll return to a much different Lone Star State from the one he left eight years ago.

Pickup trucks, Big Oil, and barbecue brisket still reign supreme, but this red state that helped deliver the presidency to Mr. Bush twice and his father once, and that catapulted GOP strategist Karl Rove to the national stage, is suddenly spotted with big pockets of blue.

Dallas is controlled by Democrats; Houston is in their hands, too. It’s all largely because of the state’s growing Hispanic population, which overwhelmingly sided with Democrats this year.

“The tide of demography in Texas is moving against the Republicans,” says Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “All the major cities are Democratic and are likely to become more so over time.”

The Pew Hispanic Center reports that Latino voters sided with President-elect Obama over Sen. John McCain by a margin of more than 2 to 1, helping Democrats win crucial states such as Florida, Virginia, Nevada, and Colorado. While the overall Hispanic turnout did not rise much – it accounted for 9 percent of the vote this year and 8 percent in 2004 – Latino support for the GOP dropped nine percentage points, according to Pew.

That has left Republicans panicking and Democrats drooling. Duncan Currie writes in last week’s conservative Weekly Standard that Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R) of Florida says the GOP has a “very, very serious problem” because of diminishing Hispanic support.

Political scientists, sociologists, and activists say that concern reflects a keen awareness of what a growing and increasingly political Latino community could mean in big, traditionally red states like Texas: Those voters could tip Democratic in future national contests.

“We are in the process of watching this remarkable shift,” says Stephen Klineberg, a sociologist at Rice University here, referring to the overall demographic transformation of America. “You can be absolutely certain that every election [to come] in Texas will have a larger percentage of Latino voters.”

In 2005, Texas joined California, New Mexico, and Hawaii as states where minority populations collectively outnumber whites, according to the US Census Bureau. In Texas and California, the second-largest group behind whites, and the fastest-growing population, is Hispanics. Nationwide, Hispanics number about 45.5 million, or 15 percent of the population. In Texas, Latinos make up about 36 percent of the population and about 20 percent of participating voters this year.

“It’s the biggest pool of Hispanic voters left in a state that didn’t vote Democratic in 2008,” not counting Arizona, because it’s Senator McCain’s home state, says Richard Murray, a political scientist at the University of Houston.

For the Democratic Party nationally, the overwhelming Hispanic support presents an inviting opportunity, especially to develop party loyalty among younger Latinos, who backed Mr. Obama 76 percent to 19 percent for McCain, according the Pew analysis.

In Harris Country, which includes Houston, 70 percent of people older than 60 are Anglo, while more than 75 percent of people younger than 30 are non-Anglo, notes Professor Klineberg.

While Bush didn’t carry the Hispanic vote here in 2004, he came close. He captured 49 percent of that bloc, with 50 percent going to Democratic rival Sen. John Kerry. Republicans also lost ground among Hispanics this year in Florida.

Since the advent of his political career, though, Bush found ways to appeal to the Latino community, which saw him favorably for his close relationships with Latin American leaders, his faith-based initiatives, and his ability to speak Spanish.

While Hispanics are not a monolithic bloc, many began turning away from the Republicans in Texas, and elsewhere in the US, amid the harsh rhetoric about immigration reform in 2007, says Professor Murray.

“Even in Texas you can’t just be a party of white folks,” he says. “Nationally and locally, the party is going to have to do some retooling.”

Though the Lone Star State’s spots of blue darkened on Election Day, the state remains solidly Republican (55 percent McCain, 44 percent Obama). McCain scored huge victories in rural Texas, taking as much as 93 percent of the vote in some counties in the Panhandle, helping deliver the state’s 34 electoral votes to the Republicans. The statehouse in Austin also remains in Republican hands.

Associated Press exit polls showed that whites, seniors, Christians, and the affluent largely stayed with the GOP ticket and that McCain took two-thirds of the state’s white vote and about three-fifths of families making more than $50,000 annually.

While rural, suburban, and small-town Texans stick with traditional Republican values, Klineberg says, a new cosmopolitan and high-tech Texas is emerging in cities such as Houston, which is the country’s fourth-largest city, with a population of about 2 million.

Houstonian Judy Craft, a longtime Democratic activist and an environmentalist, is used to swimming against the red tide in Texas. “I was hoping we’d do better, but that’s because I’m really good at suspending my disbelief during the middle of a campaign,” says Ms. Craft, who signed off her e-mails during the campaign with the hopeful wish that Texas would turn blue. “Oh well, at least I got a bluer shade of purple.”

Embracing diversity

Midland Park Elementary takes on challenges of having district's biggest Hispanic enrollment

By Diette Courrégé | The Post and Courier
Sunday, November 30, 2008

A striking surge in Hispanic students at one Charleston County elementary school has changed the way its educators do business.

The school communicates with its Hispanic parents in their native tongue, and teachers work hard to overcome the language barrier of students and their families.

Hispanic students make up nearly half of the roughly 750 students at Midland Park Elementary School in North Charleston, up from just 20 percent five years ago. Its Hispanic enrollment is the largest in the county and among the largest in the state. The Hispanic student growth spurt at Midland Park is the most dramatic in the school district, but similar increases can be seen throughout county schools.

The racial diversity in Charleston County schools traditionally has consisted of black and white students, but an increasing number of Hispanic students is affecting the school district's approach in reaching out to families.

The number of Hispanic students in Charleston County nearly has doubled in the past five years, from 1,370 in 2004-05 to 2,317 this year. Hispanic students now make up about 5.5 percent of the roughly 42,000 public school children, black students account for about 50 percent and white students are about 42 percent.

Rachel Amey, the district's coordinator for English Speakers of Other Languages, said in her eight years with the district, the number of ESOL teachers has nearly tripled. About 87 percent of those who don't speak English speak

Spanish; the remaining 13 percent speak 35 different languages.

The district's Hispanic population growth has necessitated the hiring of a bilingual parent advocate and a bilingual administrator. The school district sends parents letters and phone messages in Spanish. More classes are offered to Spanish-speaking parents, and translation software is available to schools across the district, Amey said.

"Everybody is more aware (of Hispanic families), and at every level in the school, the personnel and staff seek to support our students and parents now," Amey said.

Midland Park has earned a reputation for welcoming all cultures, and school Principal Robert Candillo said that was one reason the school's Hispanic population has shot up.

Anything that goes home to parents is sent in Spanish and English, whether it's progress reports or homework for kindergartners. The school provides educational games for families with the directions in Spanish, and it holds its PTA meetings in Spanish and English. It employs a translator, three full-time and 2 part-time ESOL teachers as well as bilingual teachers, psychologists and speech pathologists to work with its Spanish-speaking students and parents.

Although students must learn English, the school values their ability to speak Spanish. As a result, the school plans to pilot the district's first dual immersion program next year with a kindergarten class. Students will receive half of their lessons in English and half in Spanish.

"We don't want them to lose their native language," Candillo said.

Bilingual art teacher Brenda Reyes said schools need to go beyond meeting students' needs and help their parents. Hispanic parents often don't understand the English language or schools' expectations because they are unfamiliar with both, she said.

"Parents need to be helped more," she said. "We're doing what we can. If other schools do the same, that would be great."

Reach Diette Courrégé at 937-5546 or