Friday, July 27, 2007

Teachers' outcry puts Texas English, reading standards on hold

All so curious. Wonder why the rigor was taken out of the standards to begin with? More specificity would help here. -Angela .

Teachers' outcry puts Texas English, reading standards on hold
State delays approval as thousands of teachers say standards incomplete
10:19 AM CDT on Friday, July 20, 2007

By TERRENCE STUTZ / The Dallas Morning News
AUSTIN – English teachers from across the state gave an "incomplete" to new curriculum standards for English and reading classes in Texas schools Thursday, prompting the State Board of Education to delay approval of the proposal until November.

After hearing complaints from a coalition of 16 groups representing thousands of English and reading teachers, board members agreed to send the proposed standards – specifying the knowledge and skills students are supposed to learn in school – back to the drawing board.

Although Texas Education Agency officials initially said they wanted to submit final standards to the board at its next meeting in September, several board members balked at that idea, citing the criticism from so many teachers.

"We need more time on this project," said board member Pat Hardy, R-Fort Worth. "To say we are going to [take action] on a document that has so many flaws in it right now is crazy.

"We should leave it to the people who know what they're talking about – the English, language arts and reading people – to come back to us after we give them a chance to study these proposals."

Board member Bob Craig, R-Lubbock, agreed that a delay was needed.

"Let's do it right," he said, suggesting that the board postpone action until its November meeting. Board members will hear further testimony on the standards at their next meeting in September.

Among several people who testified Thursday were members of a group of educators and experts who worked on the new curriculum standards for English, language arts and reading.

Most said more time was needed to work on the standards, which several described as incomplete.

Cindy Tyroff, secondary English supervisor for the Northside school district in San Antonio, said 16 organizations representing nearly 9,000 teachers and administrators were united in their assessment that the proposed English standards needed to cover more skills.

"Not all of us in the coalition agree on all the details of how to teach reading and writing, but we have come together around the importance of ensuring a rigorous curriculum for our students," she said.

"We ask that you allow ample time for quality work."

In rewriting the curriculum standards, the working group appointed by the state board was instructed to consolidate the skills students are expected to learn in English and reading – eliminating all redundancies in the old standards.

But Ms. Tyroff and others who testified said too many skills – or "student expectations" – had been eliminated, leaving teachers, particularly those new to the profession, without the guidelines they need to educate their students.

Carol Revelle, a parent from Carrollton, told the board she was disappointed with the reduction in critical skills and the "ambiguous" expectations laid out in the proposed standards for middle schools. Her daughter is a seventh-grader at Blalack Middle School.

"We are selling our students short unless we add the rigor back into these expectations," she said. "Our students can do so much more than this."

When the English and reading curriculum standards are set, board members will turn their attention to the standards for science classes next year.

new resource on effective literacy and English language instruction for ELLs

From Georgina Gonzalez at TEA:

Please see the link below for a new resource on effective literacy and English language instruction for English language learners from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance

This "practice guide" is the first in a series of Institute of Education Sciences guides developed by a panel of experts. The guides are intended to bring the best available evidence and expertise to bear on the types of systemic challenges that cannot currently be addressed by single intervention or programs. This first guide addresses the challenge of providing effective literacy instruction for English learners in the elementary grades. Although the target audience is a broad spectrum of school practitioners such as administrators, curriculum specialists, coaches, staff development specialists and teachers, the more specific objective is to reach district-level administrators with a practice guide that will help them develop practice and policy options for their schools. The guide offers five specific recommendations for district administrators and indicates the quality of the evidence that supports these recommendations.

A link to this guide will also be available on the Department's LEP Partnership website


Latino leaders lean left for ... Hillary?

On the subject of the Presidential candidates and where Latinos fall into all of this, this is a really good story, analysis. -Angela

Latino leaders lean left for ... Hillary?
By: Gebe Martinez

July 26, 2007 05:35 AM EST /from

As New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson began the first-ever
presidential campaign by a Hispanic, Latino leaders faced a

Is it acceptable, they wondered -- especially at a time
when Latinos are feeling attacked on the civil rights
front -- to skip this historic moment and endorse a
candidate besides Richardson for the Democratic nomination?

The answer came swiftly when New York Sen. Hillary Rodham
Clinton announced early on that she had won the highly
coveted endorsement of Raul Yzaguirre, the former president
of the National Council of La Raza, a long-standing Latino
advocacy group.

She also got the backing of the controversial but
influential mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, New
Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez and dozens more.

While the value of endorsements by other politicians is
often questioned -- especially in this presidential
election season, in which big-name backers of Democrats and
Republicans have been accused of drug trafficking, using
prostitutes or being unfaithful in marriage -- they still
matter among the growing, Democratic-leaning Hispanic

And so far, Clinton is leading the fierce race for Latino
endorsements. Well-known and well-financed at the start of
her campaign, she aggressively sought Hispanic support
before Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois surged in the polls
and before Richardson's bid became sure-footed.

"One (endorsement request) that was very difficult to turn
down was from my very good friend, Bill Richardson,"
acknowledged Yzaguirre, a co-chairman of Clinton's
campaign. "(Clinton) made it clear she wants to reach the
Latino vote," he said. Former President Bill Clinton was
intellectually tuned in to the Latino electorate,
but "Hillary gets it emotionally and intellectually."

And Latinos want to be wanted. After being largely ignored
in the presidential campaigns of Al Gore and John F. Kerry,
Latinos are getting far more attention than an "En Espanol"
tab on candidates' websites.

The Clinton campaign has drawn notice for its multifaceted
strategy, which includes bringing on the first Hispanic
woman to manage a major presidential campaign, the hiring
of a Latino pollster and community networking in Florida
and Southwestern states where Latinos could be the swing
vote in the general election.

Using the 21-member Congressional Hispanic Caucus as a
yardstick, Clinton has seven members backing her, while
Richardson, the son of an American father and a Mexican
mother, has three.

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards has two
endorsements from Latino lawmakers, and Obama and Sen.
Chris Dodd of Connecticut each have one.

In a Gallup/USA Today poll conducted last month, 59 percent
of Hispanic voters surveyed said they supported Clinton
over Obama, Richardson and then Edwards, with the rest of
the field barely registering.

"The (Clinton) campaign clearly is thinking about the
Hispanic vote, and it didn't happen by accident," said
Roberto Suro, director of the Pew Hispanic Center. "It's a
measure of the fact that the campaign has determined that
they need to have some approaches to this population."

But as Richardson inches into the top tier of candidates,
he remains a formidable competitor for the Latino vote. His
list of supporters highlights community activists in key
states, even beyond his home region.

The governor probably will not win the Democratic
nomination, but he will do well enough "to hold serve with
Latino voters," predicted Antonio Gonzalez, president of
the William C. Velasquez Institute, which studies Latino
voter and economic trends.

"If Richardson is perceived as a viable candidate and he
has enough money to get the message out, that's going to
cancel out the Latino endorsements of Hillary," he

First, however, Richardson must become better known by
Latinos who do not know his ethnic or political background,
which includes serving as a congressman for 14 years, then
as U.N. ambassador and energy secretary for President

Latino endorsements are not just an introduction of the
candidate to voters. They carry an extra layer of trust
because the leaders and their constituents often have
similar cultural and economic origins.

"They can be useful when the voters are relatively
inexperienced, like first-time voters who maybe are not
that crystallized on their self-interests," Gonzalez said.
That is why, despite personal issues, Villaraigosa's
support for Clinton remains significant.

At the same time, Latinos want to be taken seriously, not
just to have a seat at the power table but also to bring
the campaigns into their neighborhoods, where issues such
as immigration, health care and education are key.

One reason little was spent on the Latino vote by recent
presidential campaigns is that the Hispanic population is
concentrated in California, New York, Texas and other
states that were not major battlegrounds. They will be in
play next year.

And in the wake of the testy immigration debate, civil
rights activists are stepping up citizenship and voter
registration drives even in nontraditional Hispanic states
where the Latino population has shot up. The 2008 Latino
vote is expected to total 9.5 million, an increase of 1.9
million over 2004.

Candidates and their supporters are courting Latinos in
serious and not-so-serious ways.

Dodd speaks Spanish. Richardson inaugurated his campaign in
Los Angeles with a bilingual speech. Supporters of Obama
have launched a Latino website with the message: "Tu voto
tiene swing!" ("Your vote has swing!")

Clinton has a bilingual "social networking" Web page that
includes her confession that she is not a very good cook.

Before choosing a candidate, Democratic Rep. Hilda L. Solis
of California said she wanted to make sure the outreach to
Latinos is "not just tokenism." California, she
emphasized, "is a big prize."

Illinois Democratic Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, who led House
efforts for a broad immigration measure, said it was more
than home-state loyalty that drove him to Obama. "We talked
early about his campaign and I know the issue of
immigration is very dear to him, and it is the pivotal
issue which I looked at," Gutierrez said.

Texas Democratic Rep. Charles Gonzalez signed on with
Edwards long before Richardson came calling.

As a member of the powerful House Energy and Commerce
Committee, Gonzalez said he wanted to help refine Edwards'
cornerstone anti-poverty agenda. "If we get in early enough
to give some guidance on some issues, that's good for
Latinos," he said.

Richardson, whose endorsement list includes longtime
friends like House Intelligence Committee Chairman
Silvestre Reyes of Texas, often reminds Latinos that he
knows them best.

"I know firsthand about the work that you do, not because
I'm reminded every four years about the importance of the
Latino vote. I know because I have been in the trenches,"
he recently told a Hispanic group in Los Angeles.

One thing is clear about endorsements, Latino or otherwise,
said Gonzalez of the Velasquez Institute. The winner will
reward those who jumped on board at the start, not at the
end. "Make no mistake," he said. "This is hardball
Democratic politics."

Gebe Martinez is a longtime journalist in Washington and a
frequent lecturer and commentator on the policy and
politics of Capitol Hill.

TM & © THE POLITICO & POLITICO.COM, a division of
Allbritton Communications Company

Immigration’s Economic Impact (June 20, 2007)

See this report on the economic impact of immigrants. Listed here are key findings in the report. -Angela

Key Findings
1. On average, US natives benefit from immigration. Immigrants tend to complement (not
substitute for) natives, raising natives’ productivity and income.

2. Careful studies of the long-run fiscal effects of immigration conclude that it is likely to
have a modest, positive influence.

3. Skilled immigrants are likely to be especially beneficial to natives. In addition to
contributions to innovation, they have a significant positive fiscal impact.

General Points

• Immigrants are a critical part of the U.S. workforce and contribute to productivity
growth and technological advancement. They make up 15% of all workers and even larger
shares of certain occupations such as construction, food services and health care.
Approximately 40% of Ph.D. scientists working in the United States were born abroad.
(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics; American Community Survey)

• Many immigrants are entrepreneurs. The Kauffman Foundation’s index of
entrepreneurial activity is nearly 40% higher for immigrants than for natives. (Source:
Kauffman Foundation)

• Immigrants and their children assimilate into U.S. culture. For example, although 72%
of first-generation Latino immigrants use Spanish as their predominant language, only 7% of
the second generation are Spanish-dominant. (Source: Pew Hispanic Center/Kaiser Family

• Immigrants have lower crime rates than natives. Among men aged 18 to 40, immigrants
are much less likely to be incarcerated than natives. (Source: Butcher and Piehl)

• Immigrants slightly improve the solvency of pay-as-you-go entitlement programs such
as Social Security and Medicare. The 2007 OASDI Trustees Report indicates that an
additional 100,000 net immigrants per year would increase the long-range actuarial balance
by about 0.07% of taxable payroll. (Source: Social Security Administration)

• The long-run impact of immigration on public budgets is likely to be positive.
Projections of future taxes and government spending are subject to uncertainty, but a careful
study published by the National Research Council estimated that immigrants and their
descendants would contribute about $80,000 more in taxes (in 1996 dollars) than they would
receive in public services. (Source: Smith and Edmonston)

Want to Be Good at Science? Math Is Key

Want to Be Good at Science? Math Is Key
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer
Thursday, July 26, 2007
(07-26) 11:10 PDT WASHINGTON (AP) --

Students who had more math courses in high school did better in all types of science once they got to college, researchers say.

On the other hand, while high school courses in biology, chemistry or physics improved college performance in each of the individual sciences, taking a high school course in one science didn't result in better college performance in the others.

Philip M. Sadler of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Robert H. Tai of the University of Virginia surveyed 8,474 students taking introductory science courses at 63 U.S. colleges and universities. Their findings are reported in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

Science educators debate the effect of the order in which students take science courses. Since the 1890s biology has tended to come first, followed by chemistry and then physics.

Some educators argue that physics should be taught earlier because it will help students understand the other two science areas; others say having chemistry first will help in learning biology.

But in this study neither was the case.

Using a scale of 0-to-100 points, Sadler and Tai found that every year of high school math a student took added 1.86 points to their grade in college chemistry. Taking chemistry in high school added 1.72 points to the college grade, but taking biology or physics in high school had no significant impact on the college chemistry grade.

Likewise, students taking college biology got a 1.84 point boost for each year of high school math. Taking high school biology got them an extra 1.35 points, but high school chemistry and physics had no significant effect.

And for physics, each year of high school math added 1.28 points, high school physics gave a 1.32 point boost, while high school biology and chemistry had no impact.

"I was surprised," Sadler said in a telephone interview. "I had a very open mind about whether this kind of early preparation would pay off."

"The most important thing for high school science teachers is to make sure there is lots of math in whatever science course they teach," Sadler said. "Math is so important in college science."

The paper does note that other variables not measured in their study may also have an impact, such as a student's interest in a particular subject and their parents' occupations.

Gerry Wheeler, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, welcomed the paper as a source of new data for making decisions on science teaching.

"The correlation with math makes sense," he said.

But Wheeler, who was not part of the research group, cautioned that a correlation isn't necessarily the same as cause and effect.

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation.


On the Net:


Doing right by students shouldn't be like pulling teeth


Doing right by students shouldn't be like pulling teeth


Sunday, July 22, 2007
The best we can say about Gov. Rick Perry's decision to appoint Don McLeroy as chairman of the State Board of Education is that the Bryan dentist was not the worst choice — given the list of candidates on the board.

While we're not enthused about Perry's selection, McLeroy has an opportunity to demonstrate that he can rise above ideology to represent the broad interests of Texas' 4.5 million public school students. He should grab that opportunity and make the most of it.

McLeroy will fill a term that expires in 2009. He replaces Geraldine Miller of Dallas. Both are Republicans.

The 15-member elected board has been so dysfunctional in recent years that the Legislature wisely curbed much of its authority over Texas public schools. For more than a decade, the board has indulged in culture wars, and Texas schoolchildren have been the casualties.

Established by the Texas Constitution to oversee, among other things, the Permanent School Fund, the board still wields clout in decisions regarding the school fund and its investments, textbook selection for all school grades and curriculum standards for public schools. The board also is the state licensing entity for charter schools.

As chair, McLeroy leads a board of 10 Republicans and five Democrats. Divisions on the board aren't just partisan. McLeroy, a self-described social conservative, is one of eight Republicans who vote as a bloc on nearly all issues. He has a reputation for civility even while casting votes that are based more on ideology than on science or facts.

In 2001, McLeroy and a majority of the board rejected the only Advanced Placement textbook for high school environmental science because its views on global warming and other events didn't comport with the beliefs of the board majority. The book wasn't factual and was anti-American and anti-Christian, the majority claimed. Meanwhile, dozens of colleges and universities were using the textbook, including Baylor University, the nation's largest Baptist college.

In 2003, McLeroy voted against approving biology textbooks that included a full-scale scientific account of evolutionary theory. The books were approved.

McLeroy seems stranded in a Beaver Cleaver universe that is light years from the reality of today's schools. A majority of Texas public school students is minority, and they are largely from lower-income households. Many students don't speak English and are living in homes headed by single parents.

Schools today are tackling issues such as teenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, gang violence and harassment of female and gay students. That's the environment in which students learn to live and work in a global economy.

McLeroy's votes and sentiments might well represent a majority of folks in his district. But Perry should press him to act broadly as chairman so that individual school districts can acquire the best textbooks, instruction and curricula for students. As a board member, McLeroy deserted a conservative principle of local control. Instead, he and other GOP board members have sought to consolidate power and force their ideological agenda on all school districts.

Those tactics continue to spawn public feuds over textbook selection and curriculum content. All of that has left the board more marginalized and has diminished its role in shaping public schools.

But the board still is capable of significant mischief.

McLeroy's elevation to chairman comes as the board begins a revision of science standards for public schools. That could prove embarrassing for Texas if McLeroy pushes for standards that push theology over science. If McLeroy wants to restore the board's credibility, he should promote standards — and textbooks — that educate, not preach.

Focus on 2 R’s Cuts Time for the Rest, Report Says

Dr. Linda McNeil and I were saying this back in 2001 under the Texas accountability system that provided the impetus for NCLB. We even lobbied our legislators in DC about this before the passage of NCLB. Someone in Congressman George Miller's office told us that it was too late and that the "train had left the tracks and unless there were dead bodies on the track, it was going to happen." We said that the bodies were on the tracks with all the students who had been pushed out of the system. It's tragic that all of this could have been avoided.

Check out mine and Linda's co-authored chapter if you like.


July 25, 2007
Focus on 2 R’s Cuts Time for the Rest, Report Says

Almost half the nation’s school districts have significantly decreased the daily class time spent on subjects like science, art and history as a result of the federal No Child Left Behind law’s focus on annual tests in reading and math, according to a new report released yesterday.

The report, by the Center on Education Policy, a Washington group that studies the law’s implementation in school districts nationwide, said that about 44 percent of districts have cut time from one or more subjects or activities in elementary schools to extend time for longer daily math and reading lessons. Among the subjects or activities getting less attention since the law took effect in 2002 are science, social studies, art and music, gym, lunch and recess, the report said.

The report, based on a survey of nearly 350 of the nation’s 15,000 districts, said 62 percent of school districts had increased daily class time in reading and math since the law took effect.

Within a year of the law’s implementation, teachers and their associations were reporting that schools and districts were suggesting or requiring that they spend more time on reading and math to improve test scores, and that they cut back time spent on other disciplines.

The narrowing of the nation’s elementary school curriculum has been significant, according to the report, but may not be affecting as many schools as previously thought.

A report that the center issued in March 2006, based on a similar survey, gave one of the first measures of the extent of the narrowing trend. It said 71 percent of districts had reduced elementary school instruction in at least one other subject to make more time for reading and mathematics. That finding attracted considerable attention, with many groups opposed to the law decrying the trend.

The law’s backers, including Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, argued that the intensification of English and math instruction made good sense on its own because, they said, students who could not read or calculate with fluency would flounder in other subjects, too.

The center’s new report raises the question of how to explain the considerable discrepancy between last year’s finding, that 71 percent of districts had reduced instructional time in subjects other than math and reading, and this year’s, which gives the number as 44 percent.

Jack Jennings, the center’s president, said in an interview that the discrepancy was a result of a change in the wording of the questionnaire. Last year’s survey asked districts to say whether they had reduced instructional time in subjects other than reading and math “to a great extent,” “somewhat,” “minimally” or “not at all.” Districts that reported even minimally reduced instructional time on other subjects were included in the 71 percent, along with districts that carried out more substantial changes, Mr. Jennings said.

This year, the center listed English/language arts and math as well as social studies, art and music, science and other subjects on the survey, and asked districts whether class time in each had increased, stayed the same or decreased since the law’s enactment. In a second column, the survey asked districts to indicate the number of minutes by which instructional time had increased or decreased.

Districts that made only small reductions this year, 10 minutes a day or less, in the time devoted to courses other than reading or math, may have chosen to report that instructional time had remained the same, Mr. Jennings said. On last year’s survey, the same districts may instead have acknowledged reducing the time, while characterizing the reduction as minimal, he said.

According to the new survey, the average change in instructional time in elementary schools since the law’s enactment has been 140 additional minutes per week for reading, 87 additional minutes per week for math, 76 fewer minutes per week for social studies, 75 fewer minutes for science, 57 fewer minutes for art and 40 fewer minutes for gym.

In a statement, Secretary Spellings said the report’s scope was “too limited to draw broad conclusions.”

“In fact,” she said, “there is much evidence that shows schools are adding time to the school day in order to focus on reading and math, not cutting time from other subjects.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Travis County Immigrant Assessment Report

Check out this downloadable pdf document to get a sense of how the immigrant community in Travis County (that includes Austin) is faring. -Angela

s are Between 1990 and 2005, Travis County experienced a 230% increase in its foreign-born
population (from approximately 45,000 to 148,000 people). In 2005, foreign-born residents
made up 17% of the county’s population. Change of this magnitude underscores the need for a
better understanding of the community conditions that affect the diverse immigrant
populations in Travis County. In late 2005, community partners, observing
the significance of these trends, made a commitment to examine, identify, and report
the current conditions and needs of immigrants in Travis County. The Research
& Planning Division of Travis County Health and Human Services & Veterans Service
stewarded this project, with support from an assessment Steering Committee and
community volunteers.

The main product of this effort is the 2006-2007 Travis County Immigrant Assessment — a report
intended to provide a balanced, accurate, and useful picture of foreign-born residents in Travis
County. Recognizing that foreign-born residents are integral to our community, the
Assessment also identifies overarching community goals expressed by local authorities and
examines the experience of foreign-born residents within the context of these goals. To provide
context for this discussion, the Assessment highlights notable differences and similarities
between foreign-born and native-born residents as well as those between foreign-born
populations with differing legal statuses and other characteristics.
This assessment drew from both primary and secondary research. The primary research
included: (1) a forum of local service providers, and (2) 18 focus groups with immigrant
residents of Travis County. The secondary research was based primarily upon an analysis of
existing research, public policy, and data derived from existing data sources, including the
American Community Survey, Current Population Survey, Texas Education Agency, Texas
Health Department of Vital Records, and the Decennial Census.

This document serves as a supplement to the 2006-2007 Travis County Immigrant Assessment and
is intended to summarize some of the highlights from each section of the report. Please refer to
the full report for a more detailed discussion of these issues, their associated citations, and
related analytical methodologies. The full report also offers contact information for the authors
and a list of contributors to this project.

An electronic copy of the 2006-2007 Travis County Immigrant Assessment is available to view and
download at:


David Bacon is great writer, photojournalist and leader. Check out his books as well—Communities Without Borders and Children of NAFTA. -Angela

By David Bacon
The American Prospect, web edition, 7/24/07

In Worthington, Iowa, a federal prosecutor gets a grand jury indictment against Braulio Pereyra-Gabino, union vice-president at the local Swift meatpacking plant. He's accused of not turning his undocumented members in to Homeland Security. In Arizona, Gov. Janet Napolitano signs a draconian immigration enforcement bill, criminalizing work for those without papers and ordering state agents to enforce the prohibition with a vengeance. Since Congress wouldn't pass the recent Senate bill with the same sanctions, she says Arizona has no choice.

The Senate's failure is used as well in Prince William County, Virginia, to justify a local ordinance ordering all public officials to check immigration papers, even teachers, nurses and librarians. They're forbidden to help anyone lacking them. Meanwhile, immigration agents continue detaining and deporting people by the hundreds in workplace and community raids around the country.

Some DC supporters of the recent Senate bill are still floundering about what to do in the wake of its failure. Outside the beltway, though, the immediate need is obvious. Organize and fight back.

Outside Washington a movement capable of doing that is growing. You can see it, not just in the million people who marched in Los Angeles twice in one day. Last May Day in tiny Bridgeton, NJ, and Kennett Square, PA, unions and progressive activists walked alongside immigrant mothers wheeling children in strollers, fighting down the fear that deportation might separate their families.

Everywhere in this country immigrant communities are growing, defying the raids intended to terrorize them - organizing and speaking out. This movement is a powerful response to Congress' inability to pass a pro-immigrant reform bill. It can and will resist and stop the raids, but its potential power is far greater. Like the civil rights movement four decades ago, the political upsurge in immigrant communities makes a profound demand - not simply for visas, but for freedom and equality.

It questions our values.

Will local communities share political power with newcomers? Will workers be able to organize to turn low-paying labor into real jobs? Will children go to school knowing their teachers value their ability to speak two or three languages as a mark of their intelligence, not their inferiority?

Those who fear change are right about one thing. Once we answer these questions, we will not be the same country.

Social change requires a social movement. Rights are only extended in the United States when people demand it. Congress will pass laws guaranteeing rights for immigrants as it did for workers in 1934, or African Americans in 1966 - when it has no choice but to recognize that movement's strength.

In the south of the 1960s, courageous civil rights activists stopped lynching and defied bombings, while registering people to vote and going to jail to overturn unjust Jim Crow laws. They won allies, from unions to students to artists, who helped give the civil rights movement its radical, transformative character. They led our country out of McCarthyism.

Today the movement for immigrant rights and equality confronts choices in strategy and alliances that recall those of the civil rights era. As SNCC and CORE had to move past the accommodations of Booker T. Washington, the immigrant rights movement has to move past the failed strategy of the last three years.

Washington lobbyists have treated local communities as troops to back up conservative beltway legislation. They've promoted a strategic alliance with corporations, whose main interest was converting the flow of migrants into a regulated source of cheap labor, and with an administration using raids to pressure immigrant communities and bust unions. DC strategists tried to appease the right by agreeing to anti-immigrant provisions that robbed their bill of the support of those communities they claimed it was supposed to benefit.

Pointing in a different direction, many community-based coalitions and grassroots groups outside the beltway have made proposals that start from a human and labor rights perspective. They would give the undocumented real residence rights, as the Immigration Reform and Control Act did in 1986. New migrants would be able to live as normal community members, rather than as exploited guest workers. A demilitarized Mexican border would look like the one with Canada. Immigrants would regain due process rights, which after eight years of George Bush, everyone else needs too. Work would be decriminalized, and labor rights enforced for all workers, immigrants included. Families could reunite in the U.S. without waiting years. U.S. policy would stop reinforcing poverty abroad as an inducement for corporate investment, especially in those countries sending migrants here.

The mainstream press amplifies the voices of a small anti-immigrant minority, and a conservative Congress kowtows to them. But most polls show that immigrants and non-immigrants alike believe in basic fairness and equality, and are willing to consider these and similar ideas. The problem is that without a powerful movement they remain just that - ideas.

Building that movement in communities, churches and unions requires a change in alliances as well as program. Its natural allies include African Americans, whose experience of racism and economic desperation is similar to that of immigrants. Unions are already important allies, and most opposed the Senate bill. Immigrant workers are already more active in union drives than most sections of the workforce.

Displaced and unemployed workers can also be allies of immigrants, instead of competitors in the job market. Today many are manipulated by the anti-immigrant hysteria of right wing talk show hosts like Lou Dobbs, because Washington lobbyists won't antagonize their corporate sponsors by criticizing the free market agenda. Yet hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers are victims of the same free trade agreements that cause migration. NAFTA and CAFTA create poverty in Mexico and Central America to benefit corporate investors. That poverty drives people to migrate north. Opposing the offshoring of jobs goes hand in hand with defending the rights of the migrants free trade produces.

The DC strategy pitted immigrants against unemployed workers through guest worker schemes, raids and criminalizing work. Coalition building brings people together in an anti-corporate alliance based, not in Washington where lobbyists dominate the agenda, but in communities with a different set of interests.

Rights for immigrants at work and in neighborhoods can be paired with the right to jobs and federal employment programs. Since 2004 Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee has proposed this kind of tradeoff - real legal status for 12 million undocumented people together with federal support for job creation and training in Black and Chicano communities with high unemployment. She's rejected guest worker programs as a corporate giveaway, hurting both immigrants, who are denied normal rights, and low-wage workers forced into competition with them. Some unions, like UNITE HERE Local 2 in San Francisco, are building alliances by demanding that employers hire more African Americans, while defending the rights of immigrants already in the workforce.

Similarly, workers in unions, immigrants included, need labor law reform and enforcement. Many May Day marchers demanded not just legal immigration status, but the right to organize to raise their poverty-level wages. Immigrant janitors sitting in the streets of Houston, hotel housekeepers enforcing living wage laws in Emeryville, CA, and meatpacking workers organizing against company terror tactics at Smithfield Foods in Tarheel, NC, are as much a part of the immigrant rights movement as those marching for visas.

A coalition that can fight for these demands has its roots in immigrant rights groups, local unions, church congregations and college campuses. The Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, representing Wal-Mart, Marriott and other corporate giants, will not fight for these demands. Nor will the rightwing Manhattan Institute. But many national organizations will. The AFL-CIO and most unions in the Change to Win Federation will support these demands. So will the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the Mexican American Political Association and the American Friends Service Committee.

National groups can provide resources, but to build a movement on the ground, we might study the experience of the young activists in the south in the 1960s, and the radicals in the industrial workplaces of the 1930s. Could students be organized to go to Hazelton, Tucson and Prince William County, to provide support for communities challenging raids and local anti-immigrant laws? Could civil disobedience be as important to their tactics as it was to those who sat in at lunch counters or organized illegal unions at the Ford Rouge plant?

Immigrant communities don't need another bad Congressional compromise. They need a freedom agenda. It can be a program like the Freedom Charter of South Africa's anti-apartheid movement - a vision to fight for. It can be a bill in Congress, like Sheila Jackson Lee's, forcing politicians to consider an alternative to guest workers and more raids. And it can be a mobilizer, drawing people to picket lines in front of the ICE detention centers holding their family members.
There people can sing new Spanish or Arabic words to the old anti-slavery anthem: "Let my people go."

For more articles and images on immigration, see

See also the photodocumentary on indigenous migration to the US, Communities Without Borders (Cornell University/ILR Press, 2006)

See also The Children of NAFTA, Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border (University of California, 2004)

David Bacon, Photographs and Stories

Coming to America through children's eyes

Coming to America through children's eyes
Austin Children's Museum exhibition tells stories of flight from Vietnam.

By Huong Le
Thursday, July 05, 2007

Inside her wooden story box, Kimberly Do put an American passport, a family picture and a lucky money envelope. She painted the box with red and yellow stripes, the colors of the former South Vietnam flag.

"That's the flag that my parents like more, because they didn't like the one with the star," Kimberly said. Her family came to America in 1981, six years after the communist takeover. "The South Vietnam flag was the one with these stripes. My parents wanted more freedom. They liked that flag better."

The box contains what Kimberly, 11, understands about her Vietnamese heritage and the story of how her family immigrated to America and Austin. It is part of the art exhibition, "We are from Vietnam: Family Immigration Stories from Austin, Texas," on display at the Austin's Children Museum through July 20.

The artwork was created by American Vietnamese second- and fifth-graders enrolled in the Vietnamese Culture Program at Walnut Creek Elementary School in North Austin. After interviewing their grandparents and parents, second-graders retold their family stories through drawings. Fifth-graders created story boxes and wrote about why their families immigrated and the hardships that they endured to reach America and build new lives.

Since the fall of Saigon in 1975, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees have found sanctuary in the United States, many in the 1970s and 1980s by perilous sea escapes in tiny, overcrowded boats. In Texas, Vietnamese immigrants generally settled in larger cities, including Houston, Dallas and Austin, and in coastal areas. Austin is home to about 20,000 Vietnamese, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.

Born in Austin, Kimberly visited Vietnam for the first time when she was 4 during a family trip to Saigon, now known as Ho Chi Minh City.

"My family wanted to immigrate because they wanted to escape the great danger of the Vietnam War," Kimberly wrote in her story for the exhibition. "They were transported here by boats, so they had to leave many valuables behind."

"If they got caught, they would get killed," she later added to her parents' story. Her mother told her there were 1,000 people and little food on the small boat that brought her family to asylum.

Chat Thiet Tran, founder of the Walnut Creek program, said the project helps American Vietnamese students find and preserve their identities.

"Some of the parents still feel the pain of having to leave your country, to live in another country without knowing when they can come back," Tran said. "Sometimes, they don't talk about it to their children."

In the program, which started in 1983, students receive additional instruction in math and reading. On Fridays, they take Vietnamese cultural classes that include studying the language and Vietnamese history and traditions. About 18 percent of Walnut Creek's 1,100 students are of Asian decent, giving the school one of the largest Asian enrollments in the Austin district.

"I think it's beautiful to grow up in two cultures," said one of the program's teachers, Thuan Tang, who left Vietnam when he was about 18 months old. "The whole idea of bilingual (education) is (for the students to) grow up learning English and retaining their native language."

In her story box, 10-year-old Thy Tran put a note worth 50,000 dong, the currency of Vietnam, family pictures and a lucky money envelope. The envelopes are traditionally given to children during Tet, the Vietnamese new year celebration. Thy has never been to Vietnam, though she's curious about seeing her mother's country.

In her story for the exhibition, Thy wrote that her mother left Vietnam with "a small hope to be free."

"When the moment broke out of the comonist coming to claim South Vietnam, my mom was in panic," Thy wrote. "She was only 16. . . . My mom found kind Chinese people which created a plan to travel on a boat to go to a different country."

That country was America.

If you go

The 'We are from Vietnam: Family Immigration Stories from Austin, Texas' exhibit at the Austin Children's Museum is part of an upcoming exhibit developed by the Texas State History Museum on historical immigration through Galveston. The exhibition ends July 20.

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday, 5 to 8 p.m., admission by donation; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Admission: $5.50 for adults and children older than 2; $3.50 for children 12 months to 23 months. Free admission for children younger than 12 months and on Sundays from 4 to 5 p.m.; 445-3601

Find this article at:

Law on religion in school spurs fear

Law on religion in school spurs fear

Jenny Lacoste-Caputo
Express-News Staff Writer

Evangelical Christians point to 1963 as the year God
was kicked out of school. That's when the U.S. Supreme
Court upheld Madalyn Murray O'Hair's argument and
abolished the practice of students reciting prayers
and Bible passages in public schools.

Since then, there have been scores of legal battles
over when, or if, religion can coincide with the
school day.

This year, the Texas Legislature added more fuel to
the decades-old debate by passing a law that could
leave the spiritual conscience of a school up to the
captain of the football team.

Lawmakers approved that law and two others that could
ease the way for more religion in public schools. The
changes will take effect when students return to
classrooms in August.

One of the measures adds the phrase "under God" to the
Texas pledge, which schoolchildren say each day right
after the pledge to the U.S. flag. Another directs the
State Board of Education to come up with a curriculum
for elective Bible classes to ensure that such classes
across the state are being taught in uniform manner.
Neither measure sparked much controversy.

The third new law, dubbed the Religious Viewpoints
Anti-Discrimination Act, has superintendents nervous
as they figure out how to implement it in the coming

It requires public school districts to adopt policies
specifically allowing spontaneous religious expression
by students. A so-called model policy included in the
law states that upperclassmen who are student leaders
˜ such as student council officers, class officers or
the captain of the football team ˜ should be
designated as speakers.

The law does not address concerns that such a
selection process could wind up leaving out minority

"This mandate is going to create a collision of ideas
that should really take place outside of the school,"
Superintendent Richard Middleton of North East
Independent School District said. "Our lawyer fees are
going to go up because of this."

The new law creates a "limited open forum" that gives
students the opportunity to speak about religious
issues. It states that if a student speaker at a
sports event, a school assembly or a graduation
ceremony elects to express a religious viewpoint while
addressing an otherwise permissible topic, school
officials must treat the religious content the same as
they would the secular content.

Jonathan Saenz, an attorney and director of
legislative affairs for Free Market Foundation, helped
draft the bill. He said it doesn't limit districts to
the model policy.

Saenz's Plano-based group serves as the statewide
public policy council associated with Dr. James
Dobson's Focus on the Family organization.

"It is up to the discretion of the school district to
decide who those people are as long as they're using
neutral criteria," Saenz said. "The law says they can
choose those in leadership positions or other students
holding positions of honor."

But Doug Laycock, a law professor at the University of
Michigan who has represented the American Civil
Liberties Union on First Amendment issues, said the
new law attempts to "create school prayer with
plausible deniability."

"This is so irresponsible," Laycock said of the law.
"It's going to cause legal problems for districts
across the state, and they're going to be stuck with
the lawsuits."

The law also requires schools to allow religious
expression in artwork, homework or other assignments
and allow religious clubs or prayer groups to meet in
school facilities on the same basis as other student
groups ˜ something that was already taking place in
San Antonio school districts.

Brian Woods, assistant superintendent for secondary
administration at Northside ISD, said he'll have to
figure out what counts as a limited public forum. Is
it just graduation ceremonies and school assemblies,
or does it include morning announcements, usually
delivered by a student over a school's public address

In a diverse district such as Northside, where
students speak more than 30 languages, ensuring that
every view is represented and no one feels
marginalized will be a challenge, Woods said. He also
worries about the potential for conflict.

"If a kid on the football team expresses a religious
message that is not in keeping with everyone in the
room, will there be protests? That school principal
will have to deal with that," Woods said. "What if
someone wants their time to respond then and there? If
we allowed a Christian to express a religious
viewpoint, and then a Wiccan wants equal time, how
could we prevent them from doing the same?"

The bill's author, Rep. Charlie Howard, R-Sugar Land,
said the new law is consistent with the Constitution
and U.S. Supreme Court rulings. He said the law does
not give students any new rights or take any away, but
makes it clear to school districts that religious
discrimination is against the law and guards students
against censorship, he said.

Prayer and religion were never taken out of public
schools, but teachers and principals have to walk a
fine line to ensure that everyone's rights are
protected. Many districts across the country ˜
including North East ISD and Austin Independent School
District ˜ offer Bible classes as electives in high
school. The classes are strictly academic and study
the Bible as literature.

Schools also must allow Bible study or prayer meetings
on their campuses on the same basis as other student
groups, and students can organize so-called "See you
at the Pole" prayer groups.

At an April news conference, Gov. Rick Perry
championed the legislation.

Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network,
a religious freedom group, said Texans would have been
better served if lawmakers simply required school
district personnel to be trained on students' existing

The new law will create more problems and more
lawsuits, she said.

"I don't believe it really gives students any more
rights to express their faith than they already had.
It denies input from community members and parents and
supersedes local control," Miller said. "I think
Texans should be nervous when the government tries to
tell their kids how and when to pray and what to
believe about God."

But Saenz of Free Market Foundation said the law
clarifies a student's right to religious expression in
public schools.

"The beauty of this legislation is to make it clear to
schools that they can't discriminate based on belief,"
he said.

The Texas Association of School Boards' legal
department offered guidance to school districts in a
newsletter last month. The article pointed out that
even offensive speech is protected and made it clear
that the new law means hate speech and other
discriminatory speech will now have a forum in public

Texas Freedom Network's Miller said that's a problem.

"We could hear the lawyers knocking at the schoolhouse
door when this bill passed," she said. "It plays
politics with people's faith."

New Rules From the Legislature
The Texas Legislature approved three new laws
involving religion in public schools:
Elective Courses: The State Board of Education is
given the task of adopting curriculum standards for
courses on the Bible. The standards would have to be
approved by the state attorney general to ensure
constitutionality. The classes will focus on the
history and literature of the Bible.

The Texas Pledge of Allegiance: The words 'under God'
have been added. The new pledge will be: 'Honor the
Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one
state under God, one and indivisible.'

The Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act:
Requires public school districts to adopt policies
specifically allowing spontaneous religious expression
by students. The provision would create a 'limited
open forum' ˜ an opportunity for students to speak
about religious issues on the same basis as they're
allowed to speak about other topics.

Ward Churchill battle/Academic Freedom Update

This is an update on the Ward Churchill Firing this bodes poorly for academic freedom in this country for tenured professors. He is filing suit against UC Boulder and so it's not over 'til it's over. -Angela

July 26, 2007: On Ward Churchill Firing

Five pieces in this email:
1) Call for Op-eds and letters to the editor from
National Project to Defend Dissent & Critical Thinking
in Academia
2) Report from Daniel Kim, Assistant Professor,
Department of English, University of Colorado
3) Message of thanks to supporters from Natsu Saitta
and Ward Churchill
4) Transcript of coverage from Democracy Now!
5) Beneath the Surface interview with Tom Mayer and

Ward Churchill

>The outrageous decision to fire Ward Churchill comes
>on the heels of the denial of tenure to Norman
>Finkelstein by the administration at DePaul. Taken
>together, it is clear that “purge” is not too strong a
>term to describe what we are witnessing against
>dissenting and critical thinking scholars in academia
>today, and in particular those whose work challenges
>the “official narratives” about this country’s history
>and international policy that powerful forces in this
>society are determined to maintain and restore. What
>is called for at this moment is to seize the
>opportunity to bring forward as significant a response
>as possible. One way to do this is in the form of Op
>Ed pieces and letters to editors. These could register
>a significant, even unexpected, response that signals
>to faculty, scholars, students and the broader public
>that this decision represents a danger, not just to
>academia but to society at this time in history, that
>cannot and will not be allowed to stand. Most of the
>media coverage of the decision gives no hint of the
>growing opposition to this attack on critical thinking
>and dissent among this country’s faculty, scholars and
>public intellectuals expressed in the Open Letter that
>we published in the NYRB in April; by the powerful
>statements sent to the Regents and to the April
>Emergency Forum that have appeared at the
> and,
>sites; the articles at Counterpunch,
> and many, many more.
>Please forward any op-eds and letters you write
>(published or not) to criticalxthinking.


>Dear Friends, Comrades and Allies,
>On Tuesday, after two and a half years of struggle,
>the Univ of Colorado fired our colleague Prof Ward
>Churchill, one of the most prominent scholars in
>American Indian Studies, whose distinguished work over
>the past 25 years has deeply exposed COINTELPRO and
>the history of American Indian genocide.
>There has been a lot of media coverage but little that
>reflects what is truly at stake in the case. We, the
>faculty, staff and students who have been fighting on
>the ground here in Boulder, held our own joint press
>conference with Prof. Churchill and his attorney to
>respond to the firing. Our voices and analysis have
>not been represented in the coverage.
>I don't know how long this video will be available on
>the web, but here it is from a local TV station
>Our speakers are:
>Prof. Emma Perez of Ethnic Studies
>Prof. Margaret LeCompte of Education
>Prof. Tom Mayer of Sociology
>Hadley Brown, UCSU Tri-Exec, Student
>Ann-erika White Bird, Students for True Academic
>Freedom, Student
>You can also see Ward and his attorney, David lane,
>speaking at our joint press conference.

>The ramifications for academic freedom are clear to
>most but one important point that our speakers are
>addressing needs special emphasis. A key part of the
>"academic" case used to fire Prof. Churchill is that
>he supposedly "falsified" and "fabricated" the history
>of indigenous genocide--namely, that he lied when
>asserting that the US Army intentionally spread
>disease (e.g. via blankets), and that he lied when
>asserting that the US Government created the "eugenics
>code" of blood quantum (in the Dawes Act). The Right
>is crowing about how these "lies" about the US
>responsibility for indigenous genocide have been
>confirmed by Tuesday's firing. This firing is, as
>ACTA has declared, D-Day for a war on Ethnic Studies,
>Women's Studies, and every other scholarly institution
>of critical thinking that was carved into the
>University by the social movements of the 60s and 70s.
>You can also find links to the press conf by the
>neocon CU President Hank Brown and Regents' Chair Pay
>Hayes at the 9News page

>One of the better local newspaper articles from that
day is here.
>Finally, there is no way to thank you enough for your
>support from across the country and beyond. It has
>been a hard and uphill road and we know that so many
>of you have been with us from the beginning over two
>years ago. Because we have faced so much isolation,
>hostility and betrayal here in Boulder, your
>solidarity, your letters, your funds, your research,
>your organizing have been so crucial to the survival
>and persistence of our work in Boulder. We are glad
>and proud to know you'll be with us as the struggle
>moves ahead.
>In solidarity,
>Daniel Kim, on behalf of the faculty, students and
>staff at CU-Boulder fighting at "ground zero" Boulder
>Assistant Professor,
>Department of English,
>University of Colorado
>Dear Friends,
>Thanks to all of you for your continuing support and
>recent e-mails. We are energized and encouraged to
>see how many people realize that yesterday's 8-to-1
>decision of the University of Colorado Regents to fire
>Ward Churchill was not about a few footnotes, but
>instead about suppressing historical truths and
>dissenting speech. (For a fairly good recap, see ;
>there will be updates at

>Some have said it was a sad day for academic freedom.
>It is sad when Cindy Carlisle becomes the lone
>courageous Regent for saying that the faculty review
>panel's recommendation shouldn't have been overridden
>by CU President Hank Brown. But did anyone really
>expect an elected body in Colorado to suddenly
>manifest backbone, when they had been instructed to
>fire Ward by Governors Owens and Ritter and the state
>legislature, and were under tremendous pressure from
>CU's big donors?
>For me, the bad days are when we sit by and let the
>attorney general intimidate us into a collective
>silence; when we allow torture, disappearances and
>arbitrary detentions to become routine; when we insist
>that this is a democracy, but refuse to accept any
>responsibility for the actions of the government.
>The sad days are when our kids are punished or
>humiliated in school for refusing to celebrate this
>country's genocidal history; when we get glimpses of
>other people's children being reduced to "collateral
>In Ward's case, any pretense of academic freedom, to
>say nothing of due process, evaporated when the
>charade of a "research misconduct" investigation was
>allowed to proceed, with the apparent sanction of so
>many "liberal" academics like the National AAUP. It
>was long gone by last week, when CU refused to
>investigate the numerous charges of falsification and
>plagiarism in the very report upon which Ward's
>dismissal was based.
>Yesterday that charade was consummated and today our
>amazing attorney David Lane filed suit. We look
>forward to the day when a jury can decide whether the
>citizens of Colorado are as willing as the University
>to sacrifice the First Amendment for the status quo.
>Ward and I appreciate your support in this small piece
>of the struggle to keep critical thinking alive, and
>look forward to working with you on this and many
>other fronts.
> Natsu & Ward, July 25, 2007
>Democracy Now!
>Wednesday, July 25th, 2007
>Professor Ward Churchill Vows to Sue University of
>Colorado Over Controversial Firing
>The Board of Regents of the University of Colorado in
>Boulder voted 8-to-1 Tuesday evening to fire tenured
>professor of Ethnic Studies Ward Churchill on charges
>of research misconduct. But Churchill maintains that
>the allegations were a pretext to remove him for his
>controversial political views. One day after his
>firing, Churchill calls the charges a sham and vows a
>suit against the school. [includes rush transcript]
>The Board of Regents of the University of Colorado in
>Boulder voted 8-to-1 Tuesday evening to fire tenured
>professor of Ethnic Studies Ward Churchill on charges
>of research misconduct. But Churchill maintains that
>the allegations were a pretext to remove him for his
>unpopular political views. Churchill has written a
>number of books on genocide against Native Americans
>and the US government's COINTELPRO program. After
>yesterday's verdict Churchill said he planned to sue
>the university.
>Churchill has written a number of books on genocide
>against Native Americans and the US government's
>COINTELPRO program. After yesterday's verdict
>Churchill said he planned to sue the university.
>The controversy dates back to early 2005 when a
>college newspaper reprinted Churchill's three-year old
>essay on the attacks on the World Trade Center. He
>described the attacks as a response to a long history
>of US abuses and called those who were killed on 9-11
>as "little Eichmanns" who formed a “technocratic corps
>at the very heart of America’s global financial
>Adolf Eichmann was a Nazi bureacrat convicted for war
>crimes who political theorist Hannah Arendt famously
>described as embodying the "banality of evil." Fox
>News commentator Bill O’Reilly repeatedly attacked
>Churchill for his comparison. Soon after, Colorado
>Governor Bill Owens wrote a letter to the university
>calling for Churchill’s resignation.
>A special panel at the university immediately
>conducted an investigation into Churchill’s comments.
>They concluded that he could not be fired for his
>statements, which were protected by the First
>Amendment. However, another panel later determined
>that Churchill plagiarized and fabricated material in
>his scholarship and recommended his dismissal.
>Supporters of Ward Churchill organized a rally before
>the Regents delivered their decision to fire Churchill
>at 5.30 pm. They had been deliberating behind closed
>doors all day.
> • Churchill supporter Ann Erika Whitebird.
>Ward Churchill joins us on the phone from Boulder,
> • Ward Churchill. He was just terminated from his
>tenured post as Professor of Ethnic Studies at the
>University of Colorado, Boulder. Churchill is an
>activist and author of a number of books on genocide
>against Native Americans and the US government's
>COINTELPRO program.
>This transcript is available free of charge. However,
>donations help us provide closed captioning for the
>deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank
>you for your generous contribution. ?Donate - $25,
>$50, $100, more...
>AMY GOODMAN: The Board of Regents of the University of
>Colorado in Boulder voted 8-to-1 Tuesday evening to
>fire tenured professor of ethnic studies Ward
>Churchill on charges of research misconduct, they
>said. But Professor Churchill maintains the
>allegations were a pretext to remove him for his
>unpopular political views.
>Churchill has written a number of books on genocide
>against Native Americans and the US government's
>COINTELPRO program -- that’s Counter-Intelligence
>Program. After yesterday's verdict, Churchill said he
>planned to sue the university.
>JUAN GONZALEZ: The controversy dates back to early
>2005, when a college newspaper reprinted Churchill's
>three-year-old essay on the attacks on the World Trade
>Center. He described the attacks as a response to a
>long history of US abuses and called those who were
>killed on 9/11 as “little Eichmanns” who formed a
>“technocratic corps at the very heart of America’s
>global financial empire.”
>Adolf Eichmann was a Nazi bureaucrat convicted for war
>crimes, who political theorist Hannah Arendt famously
>described as embodying the “banality of evil.” Fox
>News commentator Bill O'Reilly repeatedly attacked
>Churchill for his comparison. Soon after, Colorado
>Governor Bill Owens wrote a letter to the university
>calling for Churchill's resignation.
>A special panel at the university immediately
>conducted an investigation into Churchill’s comments.
>They concluded that he could not be fired for his
>statements, which were protected by the First
>Amendment. However, another panel later determined
>that Churchill plagiarized and fabricated material in
>his scholarship and recommended his dismissal.
>AMY GOODMAN: Supporters of Ward Churchill organized a
>rally before the Regents delivered their decision to
>fire Churchill at 5:30 last night in Boulder. They had
>been deliberating behind closed doors all day.
>Today we'll be joined by Ward Churchill on the phone
>from Boulder, but first to a clip of yesterday's
>rally. We turn now to Ward Churchill, his lawyer David
>Lane, American Indian Movement activist Glenn Morris,
>and one of Churchill's students.
> • ANN ERIKA WHITEBIRD: And the decision to fire Ward
>Churchill is really sad for me. He's the only
>professor that I’ve taken a class, where I really felt
>empowered as an Indigenous person. And our history,
>the history of genocide against our people, the
>history, the policy, the US policy of extermination
>against our people, the forced sterilization of our
>women -- that was found out as early as the ’70s -- it
>was all something that Ward talks about in his books.
>So I’m not just talking about the class that he’s
>offered, the FBI at Pine Ridge, but, you know, other
>classes that he teaches and then the books that he's
>written is really affirming as a Native person.
> • The history that we hear growing up about the
>smallpox blankets, it's not something that you
>question. It's something that is part of our oral
>history. And it's part of the history of other
>indigenous peoples. So when I’m here at CU Boulder and
>I talk to other students who are Dene or from other
>nations, it's a common understanding.
>AMY GOODMAN: That was a student talking about Ward
>Churchill. Now, we turn to the ethnic studies
>professor, who joins us on the phone from his home in
>Boulder. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Ward Churchill.
>AMY GOODMAN: Your thoughts today on the morning after
>your firing?
>WARD CHURCHILL: Well, a period of glaciation, which
>was this process of creating the illusion of research
>misconduct to cover a firing for political speech, has
>come to an end. That process has now run its course,
>so there's a new phase that's begun, which is, I
>suppose, for lack of a better way of putting it, my
>period of defensive posture has come to an end and the
>offense has begun, kicks off this morning with the
>filing of a suit.
>AMY GOODMAN: Who will you be suing?
>WARD CHURCHILL: Regents of the University of Colorado
>for accepting, in full knowledge at this point, a
>non-scholarly sham of an investigative report,
>creating the pretext. And I say “non-scholarly”
>because the university has withdrawn the entire
>investigative report from any scholarly scrutiny. They
>refuse to allow it to be subject to scrutiny by
>competent scholars. And there are research misconduct
>complaints in place at this point against the members
>of the investigative committee for serial plagiarism,
>wholesale falsification, outright fabrication -- in
>other words, fraud. It's a fraudulent finding.
>So there is no defensible scholarly conclusions that
>anything I’ve said in my writing is even inaccurate,
>much less fraudulent, or that I committed the
>so-called plagiarism. All they've got is public
>outrage in the form of very well-organized rightwing,
>active-style lobbying blocks, and the statements of
>public officials, and so on, saying I should be
>removed as the basis for removing me.
>JUAN GONZALEZ: The amazing thing about this is that
>the so-called -- the investigation focused on
>everything but the apparent reason why there was such
>a determination to investigate you. The essay having
>to do with 9/11, that wasn't even a subject,
>supposedly, of this investigation, was it?
>WARD CHURCHILL: No. And a point to be made there is
>that while I was a target, was a target that would
>serve as a sort of conduit, in a way, they considered
>me to be, and said so, considered me to be kind of at
>the forefront of a sort of critical line of analysis,
>historically speaking. And they wanted to roll back
>that line of analysis altogether, to discredit it, so
>that you basically have a return to that triumphalis,
>celebratory white-supremacist interpretation of
>American history with all of the denial and
>falsification that that is known to entail. That's the
>reason, in part. And it's in large part for the
>charade that they have acted out over the last
>two-and-a-half years, the going after the historical
>analysis, as well as a purveyor of it. And so, this
>goes way beyond me. I’m intended to symbolize the cost
>and consequence of challenging orthodoxy in certain
>critical domains, at least.
>JUAN GONZALEZ: And what has been the response of the
>press in Colorado? Have any of the newspapers or any
>of the press defended your right to speak your mind?
>WARD CHURCHILL: Well, yeah. They've created this false
>dichotomy, in a way: Well, it's reprehensible, we
>disagree with it, blah, blah, blah, but he had a right
>to say it, however repugnant it may have been. On the
>other hand, he did all these things that constitute
>research misconduct. Basically he's pedaling lies to
>the public that cause discontent with the status quo.
>And that's what the issue is. The specific acts of
>research misconduct has nothing to do with that
>The press was instrumental in framing that. There's
>been a symbiotic relationship between the
>administration at the university and the press all
>along. The press really took the lead in drumming up
>furor. There were 400 feature articles on my case, or
>what is supposed to be my case, in the Denver metro
>area newspapers in barely sixty days. Pope died; I had
>the front page of the Rocky Mountain News. The Rocky
>Mountain News was at the very forefront of creating
>the appearance that there was scholarly impropriety
>involved in my work and to be able to separate that
>set of issues then, the scholarly impropriety from the
>speech issues.
>AMY GOODMAN: Ward Churchill, we have to go. But in
>addition to the lawsuit you're filing, what are your
>plans now?
>WARD CHURCHILL: Well, my plans now are to continue to
>do what it is that I’ve always done: I mean, being a
>professor at the University of Colorado hardly defines
>the nature of my life. In fact --
>AMY GOODMAN: We're going to have to leave it there. I
>want to thank you for being with us from Boulder, Ward
>Churchill, just fired by the University of Colorado.
>Michael Slate, host of Beneath the Surface on KPFK,
>dedicated his show on Tuesday on Churchill. He
>interviewed Ward Churchill and Tom Mayer by phone, and
>played an excerpt from a ""Balance" Is The Wrong
>Criterion – And A Cover for a Witch-hunt – What We
>Need is the Search for the Truth: Education, Real
>Academic Freedom, Critical Thinking and Dissent by Bob
>Avakian, chairman of the Revolutionary Communist
>Audio of the program can be listened to here:

Raising Money for Natalie Cerda, UT gradaute

Natalie Cerda, a former student who will be going to Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons this fall on a full-tuition scholarship is going to run in the NYC Marathon. All wonderful news! She is raising funds for the Armory Foundation. Here is what she has to say about this at this website, She is raising funds for a worthy cause. I'm very proud of you, Natalie. Thanks for staying in touch.


Rising Voices of America

This is an interesting piece about Latino identity on Capitol Hill in D. C. I'm curious to see how all of this translates into political identity.


Rising Voices of America
On the Hill, Latino Interns Have Much to Say About Who They Are and What We All Should Be
By David Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 26, 2007; C01

This land is your land, this land is their land, and they hail from California to the New York island -- 34 of the best and brightest Latino college students, sojourning in Washington to do the congressional summer intern thing.
They arrived just in time to witness the spectacular flameout of the Senate's immigration reform bill in June, then to read about attempts to deny services to illegal immigrants in Prince William and Loudoun counties, then to immerse themselves in a project to provide services to one and all in Columbia Heights.

Washington makes them mad. And it inspires them.

It also has made them think deeply about who they are, and where they fit into this turbulent feat of political imagination and plain winging-it called America.

Such existential ruminations spark other considerations: Whom do you date? How good (or bad) is your Spanish? How comfortable are you with your skin tone? (Too dark? Too light?) Are you American enough? Is the reputation of la Raza riding on your every move -- or is that perpetual feeling of being watched just an illusion?
One of the first things they did upon arriving was question authority, as represented by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, host of the internship program, which is providing transportation, lodging and a $2,000 stipend for eight weeks. Why, the interns demanded to know, do the members of the caucus insist on calling it the Hispanic caucus? Don't they realize Hispanic is an oppressive, colonial term that emphasizes the Spanish (European, white) part of their identity? To them, Hispanic belongs in the same lame purgatory of embarrassing cultural artifacts as the Macarena and Speedy Gonzales.
The correct term, the interns informed the adults, is Latino, which, to the students, better embraces the three rivers of blood that cascaded together to form a People. White blood, African blood, Indian blood: Hispanic, Latino. Mexican, Guatemalan, Salvadoran, Nicaraguan, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Venezuelan, Colombian, Peruvian. . . . South American, North American . . . American?
Esther Aguilera, president of the institute, responded to her young charges by saying, well, yes, good point, but a few decades ago when the organization was forming, the U.S. census had gone with Hispanic, making it the official term. And thus the potent undertow of federal bureaucratic logic became another fact of Washington for the interns to experience.
Now, a few weeks after that baptismal rebellion over nomenclature, as the languid liberation of summer twilight settles over a plaza on the George Washington University campus, a group of the interns is sitting under a sculptural clock, sipping iced coffee and talking about identity. They're not who they were just a few years ago, but neither are they who they will become.
"I will never say I'm Hispanic," says Israel García, 22, a senior at the University of Colorado at Boulder. On his mother's side, his roots in a rural Colorado valley date back six generations, grafted with Apache stock. His father was an undocumented migrant lettuce-cutter from Baja California, Mexico, now a legal resident applying for citizenship.
García calls himself a Latino, an American citizen, but it's not that simple.
"I don't underestimate the power of us being allowed to name ourselves," he continues. "And to be able to say 'this' is who we are."
Beyond the Ethnic Cul-de-sacs
The immigration debate has forced Latinos to ponder who they are, or risk having that answer imposed by others.
"The media tends to portray the mexicano standing in front of Home Depot, as if that is what the Latino population is made of," says Ricardo Zavala, 27, a senior at Texas State University, whose family came to Texas from Mexico five generations ago.
"We're finding our voice," says Cristina Seda, 20, half Puerto Rican and half Jamaican, from the Bronx, a junior at Trinity College in Connecticut. "We're realizing, okay, this is one way people have perceived us, and they've generalized us in a lot of ways in order to make a voter bloc and create a group of consumers, and to sell to us and market to us -- and to market us to the greater society: 'This is salsa, buy this, Americans, look at this culture, it's really exotic!' And we're seeing there are a lot of us, and people are recognizing us, and now we're trying to shape it for ourselves, instead of having our identity shaped from the outside."
There's a contradiction in how the interns want to be understood. On the one hand, they're tired of the diversity of the Latino community being ignored. The interns' families together claim roots in eight Latin American countries. When students from Caribbean cultures cook in the little campus kitchens, students from the American Southwest don't recognize the names of the dishes.
And yet, unlike their parents and grandparents -- who found solace and strength in Chicano power, Puerto Rican power, Dominican power -- this generation feels free to move beyond those ethnic cul-de-sacs. Historians say this is the first time a pan-Latino identity is emerging, a banding together forced by the immigration debate.
"I used to get offended when people would say, 'You must be Mexican,' " says Carmen Mendoza, a junior at the University of Wisconsin, whose parents fled the civil war in Guatemala. "Now I don't get mad because you know what? . . . At the end of the day I look Mexican, even though I'm not Mexican, and my people are having the exact same struggle as the Mexicans are having."
"Our generation is the first generation to grow up with accessibility to each other," García says. "We have such instant means of communication, like the Internet, like cellphones . . . that our parents and grandparents didn't have. The only means they had when they came to this country was to survive with one another, was to be proud of la patria."

Shared Experiences
The summer sky is deepening, darkening. Identity also comes in colors, but colors are deceptive.
"I'm sure this has happened to all of us," García begins. As he elaborates, the group sitting beneath the sculptural timepiece chuckles in recognition.
"People will say, 'Where are you from?' I'll say Colorado. No, but where are you from? I was born and raised in Colorado. But where are you from? Well, my family is from Mexico. And that's the answer they're looking for. It's like, you're obviously not like us. You're obviously not an American. Colorado is not a good enough answer for you."
García speaks English without an accent. His hair is short, stiff and black. His skin is bronze.
Listening and laughing with the others is Yuri Castaño. He could give what García calls "the answer they're looking for." He's from Mexico City.
But Castaño is hardly ever asked. His skin is white, his hair brown and tousled.
"I have all the privileges of any white-skinned person in this country," says Castaño, 19, who immigrated with his mother about 10 years ago. He's a junior at the University of Pennsylvania. "Of course, it's beneficial to me in that sense, but in another sense, within the Latino community there's a little bit of a struggle to be recognized as Latino."
At Penn, he says, there are students who are known as Latin Americans who are richer and whiter. And there are Latinos who are poorer and browner.
"I could never identify with the Latin Americans, even though I was born and lived for 10 years in Mexico City, because I'm poor. But on the other hand, there's some tension with me and Latinos, because in terms of racial identity, they see me as white and not brown. . . . My identity has been evolving, to some extent. My sister is much darker, she looks much more indigenous than I do. I have felt shame about being light-skinned. The same way people have felt shame about being dark-skinned."
"I always wanted to look like my [lighter-skinned] sister, and my sister wanted to look like me," says Mendoza, who has grown past that longing and now proudly calls herself "la negrita indita" -- the dark Indian -- because of her Mayan heritage. Color is a head game, she says, and "You're never going to be satisfied."
Zavala, the fifth-generation Texan, is as light-skinned as Castaño. When he was growing up, Latino children would sometimes teasingly call him white. Now Zavala is dating an African American woman. He has realized that among the charms he appreciates in a woman is darker skin. "When I have children, I want them to have a darker tint because I don't want them ridiculed for being lighter," he says.
But identity is more than skin deep. Mendoza dated a white guy for six years. They had strong religious convictions in common. But he was from a more well-to-do family than hers, and she felt some cultural pressures.
"When I was around his family I would make sure I didn't wear my hoop earrings that day," she says. "I would make sure I didn't wear my hair big and curly like it really is, I would make sure that I straightened it. I would make sure I was on my best, best behavior because I wanted to prove I wasn't one of 'those' Latinos."
It didn't work out, not simply because he was white and she was brown, but because of all the strands of identity tied to those skin colors.
"I've dated Latinos, my boyfriend now is Native American," Mendoza says. "It's so much easier to date somebody who is Latino or a minority because you can just identify with them on a different level. There are certain things I could not express or get him to understand. No matter how much he loved me, no matter how great we got along, he was never going to understand, we didn't have that common bond."
Language Matters
A smattering of Spanish echoes in the brick building on F Street NW where the interns live in spartan suites. Many are fluently bilingual, but most conversations are in English, and group meetings are conducted in English.
Are you the language you speak?
Born in San Antonio, Krizia Martinez, 20, was spoken to in Spanish by her Puerto Rican parents. She started learning English in a bilingual class. At home she would play teacher with her brother, two years younger. "I would tell him, 'No, don't say it in Spanish, say it in English,' " she recalls. Now she is a bilingual senior at the University of Texas at San Antonio. But her brother can't speak Spanish, and he good-naturedly blames her. Martinez feels a little sheepish about her role.
"A good assimilator," she says ironically. "It's hard for him. A lot of people assume if you're of Latino background, you speak Spanish. . . . He's still very proud of being Puerto Rican. . . . As we try to shape our identity, we're trying not to lose what's important to us."
Zavala's great-great-grandfather was a vaquero, one of the early Texas cowboys. His father is a file manager for a law firm, his mother a mortgage loan processor. "My parents grew up in a time period where in the school system, if you spoke Spanish in class you got hit by your teacher," he says. "So when they had me and my younger brother, they felt that it would be hindrance to teach us Spanish. I'm really trying my best to learn it. And I definitely want to teach my children Spanish."
This tall, white, fifth-generation English-only Texan could melt completely into the big American pot. But that's not who he thinks he is. He can't fully explain why.
"I always felt that's who I am and I'm going to stay who I am," Zavala says. "A lot of mexicanos who are first-generation, they sometimes look at me and they go, 'How come you don't talk Spanish, or how come you don't eat certain foods every day like we do? How come your mother doesn't make homemade tortillas every morning?' My mom doesn't because she's fourth-generation and she doesn't know how to make tortillas. We grew up eating pizza pockets and corn dogs and spaghetti and Ramen noodles."
Job Experiences
Wearing smart dark suits, bunkered in cubicle warrens, they answer the telephones, catalogue mail from constituents, research legislation, attend hearings. In this epoch of the immigration wars, they've been on the receiving end of a lot of passion and venom blasted into Washington from the voters. The charged environment on the Hill has made the issue fresh and raw for the students, all of whom are legal residents or citizens, as the program requires.
Martinez, working in the office of Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Tex.), went home one night and kept hearing the angry voice of a caller outraged about her taxes paying for school lunches for children of illegal immigrants.
García, a campus activist who helped organize a large immigrant rights march in Denver last year, is picking up tactical pointers from his perch in the office of Rep. John Salazar (D-Col.). Seeing the flow of communication coming in from advocates and voters, he concludes the most persuasive voices appear to be the ones anchored on a bedrock of usable fact. "I will never contact my representatives the same way again," he says. "Public policy is shaped by information."
Mendoza, assigned to the office of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), goes to a Senate-side cafeteria and notices many of the workers are Latinos. They immediately spot the Latina in the suit, rare enough on Capitol Hill.
"It's funny the sense of appreciation I get from them, and I give them," Mendoza says. "They speak to me in Spanish, they smile at me a little bit extra. It just feels good to see them, and they see me."
Mendoza's mother used to tell her, "No seas una Latina fea." Don't be a bad example. Don't disgrace the community. And if there have been times that directive feels like a burden, it also helps explain why many middle-class Latinos feel connected to working-class Latinos, why many with documents joined marches to support those without.
"We're Latinos and we share a common struggle," says García, who, like several of the others, grew up poor and feels privileged to be in college, when Latinos have the nation's highest high school dropout rates.
Some nights, the interns gather in the basement of their building to plan their community service project. It's going to be a health and education fair Saturday at the Mary's Center in Columbia Heights.
It's aimed at high school students and their parents. The education component will "demystify the college process," García says, "helping people understand college is not a place in the clouds."

Identity Questions
What is an American?
Sometimes they feel the vertigo of existing between identities. Mendoza, despite being born in the United States, suspects that because of her Mayan copper skin color, she will never be perceived as American enough. Or is that just a perception in her own head? When she visits Guatemala, her cousins have no doubt: She is "the American."
Other times she thinks: "I'm Latina, I'm Guatemalan, you cannot take that away from me. I also feel that I'm more American than others, too. What is the purpose of America? The way I see it, I'm fitting that mold of what our founding fathers wanted, which was for someone to come, have a new beginning and fight oppression."
"I refuse to accept that idea that we will never be 'American enough,' " says Seda, the Bronx-born daughter of a Puerto Rican father and a Jamaican mother. "I think it's our job to redefine, and define, what America is."
The conversation beneath the clock is ticking down, and it's going to be a warm night.
"The thing that we're refusing to do is become just like the white population of this country, because we're not and we never will be," García says. "The American Dream is the simple idea that you can come and work and get something back and make your life better than what it was before. When we don't feel access to that dream anymore, we lose our stake in it, and we're not American anymore. But when we go back to our countries of origin, when we see, well maybe I've worked hard and look what I've gotten, and it's a lot more than what I had here, that's when again we're, like, maybe the dream is still alive. Maybe I am American."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Immigrant Parents Struggle to Keep Their Children Bilingual

Yovanna Berges of Lawrence, who is a Spanish-speaking Peruvian immigrant, wants her 7-year-old son, Jordy, to retain her native tongue, though he also speaks English. (Jodi Hilton for The Boston Globe)

Immigrant parents struggle to keep their children bilingual
By Maria Sacchetti, Globe Staff | July 22, 2007

LAWRENCE -- After a lunch of hot dogs and rice, Jordy Berges blasted a ball off the wall of the lunchroom at his mother's office, his stomping grounds for the summer.

"No juegues aquí," Yovanna Berges scolded her 7-year-old son, telling him in Spanish to stop.

"Sorry," he answered her, in English.

Berges, an immigrant from Peru, is growing accustomed to such conversations with her son. She is struggling to raise him to speak English and Spanish fluently, which might not seem like a big challenge in the city with the highest proportion of Latinos in Massachusetts. But researchers say Berges and immigrant parents nationwide are confronting a difficult truth: Their children are losing their languages.

According to research presented to Congress in May, even the children of immigrants prefer to speak English by the time they are adults.

Rubén G. Rumbaut, a sociologist at the University of California at Irvine, and his team of researchers looked at 5,700 adults in their 20s and 30s in Southern California from different generations to see how long their language survived. A key finding centered on 1,900 American-born children of immigrants. The shift toward English among them was swift: While 87 percent grew up speaking another language at home, only 34 percent said they spoke it well by adulthood. And nearly 70 percent said they preferred to speak English.

"English wins, and it does so in short order," said Rumbaut, who presented his findings to the US House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration in May. "What we're talking about is a real phenomenon."

It is difficult for children to sustain their parents' languages amid the tidal wave of American pop culture, including movies and television, coupled with societal pressure to speak only English. Most schools and communities do little to preserve bilingualism, Rumbaut said. Even bilingual education programs, which Massachusetts voters dismantled in 2002, were commonly designed to help students make the transition to English-only classrooms.

Generations of immigrants have seen their languages fade, but Rumbaut said the cost is higher now as businesses expand overseas, the United States is more diverse, and national security agencies are clamoring for people who speak foreign languages. The children themselves are losing a skill that could give them an edge in the job market.

The erosion of language cuts across all backgrounds, Rumbaut said. In his study, less than 25 percent of the US-born children of Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese immigrants said they spoke their parents' languages well. Chinese is one of the languages President Bush declared a priority for national security last year.

Spanish was found to survive longer, largely because Southern California is a high-immigrant area and Spanish is ubiquitous on television and radio and in newspapers.

Still, gaps emerged. Almost all second-generation Mexican- Americans were raised speaking Spanish, but only 60 percent spoke it well by early adulthood, and half preferred English. By the third generation, barely 10 percent spoke Spanish well, according to the study; almost all preferred English.

While Rumbaut's study did not include Massachusetts, he said it was even more likely that language loss would occur here, because immigrants make up only 14 percent of the population, about half the percentage in California, meaning that children here have more exposure to English.

Until now, much of the debate over language has focused on the successful campaigns in Massachusetts, California, and Arizona to end bilingual education in public schools. Bilingual education was still strong in California when the participants in Rumbaut's study were young, but Rumbaut said English still prevailed.

In 2002, Massachusetts voters declared that all instruction must be in English, except for children on waivers that allow them to take bilingual classes and in a small number of schools that teach two languages simultaneously. Those programs, for example, teach English and a language such as Chinese, to native speakers of both.

Many Massachusetts parents and advocates say they are scrambling to keep children's native languages from slipping away. In Boston, advocates are pushing for more two-way schools. At Brockton High, children of Cape Verdean and Brazilian immigrants sign up for Portuguese lessons.

Even Rosalie Porter, an author of the Massachusetts initiative that dismantled bilingual education in schools, said she favors expanding two-way schools as long as parents want them.

Berges, who is married to an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, is raising Jordy in Lawrence, a majority Latino city, where 83 percent of schoolchildren speak another language at home.

Along Essex Street, one of the main thoroughfares, there are signs in Spanish advertising a store selling "Ropa para Caballeros," or men's clothing. Spanish-language newspapers abound.

But her son is fascinated by all things American, including Spiderman and hamburgers, and his communication with her reflects that. The other day he complained of a headache and said, "I have a pain in my cabeza."

"I'm afraid he's going to stop speaking Spanish," said Berges, an outreach worker at the community service center run by Greater Lawrence Community Action Council Inc.

Julia Sigalovsky of Sudbury, a scientist from Russia who arrived here in 1989, said she was stunned when her 11-year-old son suddenly refused to speak Russian after a few months in this country.

When she and her husband chatted in Russian at the supermarket, he was mortified. "Speak English," he told them.

With her second son, she tried harder. She sang him lullabies in Russian, hired a Russian-speaking babysitter, and inundated him with movies in her native tongue, like the Russian version of "Winnie the Pooh."

Now 14, he hardly speaks Russian, either. At home, the parents speak Russian and their sons respond in English. Even the family dog, answers to English. "We speak two languages," Sigalovsky said. "It looks totally insane for somebody who is watching."

While researchers and advocates agree that children of immigrants are losing languages, they disagree about what to do about it.

Porter, though she favors two-way programs, said English should be the priority of public schools. Parents can teach another language at home, she said.

"It is an economic advantage, but every single child does not want to keep two languages," said Porter, who still speaks the Italian she learned from her immigrant parents. "Some kids will become professors of language. Some kids will become international bankers. Some kids will not bother with any of that, and they'll become successful in their own way."

Samuel Hurtado is coordinator of the Latino Education Action Network in Boston, where 39 percent of students speak another language at home, according to the state. Hurtado said the city should expand two-way programs so that children can maintain both languages. Many parents cannot afford luxuries such as tutors or trips abroad, said Hurtado, who plans to teach his 1-year-old son English and Spanish at home and enroll him in a Chinese immersion program in school.

"We talk so much about globalism, and we're missing a lot of opportunities for our children to be raised bilingual," he said. "This is becoming more of a class thing. When you go to the suburbs, parents get the value that it is to be bilingual."

Some parents say they are more concerned their children learn English than their native language. But Juanita Garcia of Methuen said she wants her children to learn Spanish so they can speak to their grandmother, who is visiting from Puerto Rico.

One day last week, all three generations went out for hamburgers. The parents and grandmother sat at one table and spoke Spanish; the teenagers sat at another and spoke English.

"I want them to have two languages," Garcia said in Spanish. "But all the time, they speak English."

Maria Sacchetti can be reached at

© Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company