Monday, February 16, 2009

For the first time, Hispanic children are the majority in Texas’ first-grade classrooms

This is a good piece worth reading. One of the many good points made here is for us all to think about who will be making decisions for the growing number of Latina/o (mainly Mexican) youth in Texas schools.

Here's a bit of insight:

Recently, the proposal "Common Ground" was released calling for reforms to the current state accountability system. This report that is riddled with grammatical errors and vague sentence constructions, as well as subtle and not-so-subtle prejudice. For
example, on page 13, immigrants are referred to as “largely illiterate in
both English and their native language.”

Anyone concerned about this should seriously take the time to read the Common Ground proposal as well as the following accountability proposals that have been made public:

Texas AFT's "Beyond TAKS (and NCLB): Putting Texas School Accountability Back on Track

"Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas"

"The Texas Star System: An Improvement Model For Public School Accountability

TPPF's Texas Accountability Standards 101

Texas Institute for Education Reform (TIER) "Creating the Schools We Need for the 21st Century: The Next Generation of Accountability


BUD KENNEDY | Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Monday, Feb 16, 2009

We have known for years that Texas will soon again be predominantly Hispanic.

What we have not known so clearly — until a couple of recent reports — is that the white population is dwindling.

In a new report on population trends in public schools, the Texas Education Agency reports that Texas now enrolls 130,000 fewer white children than 10 years ago.

For the first time, Hispanic children dominate first-grade classes, adding about 4,000 children last year to become the outright majority with 50.2 percent of students.

But Hispanic children would have become dominant without even one new student, because white first-grade enrollment dropped by about 2,000.

White children are now fewer than one-third of the first-graders in Texas.

If this is a surprise to us, it’s not one to Karl Eschbach of the University of Texas-San Antonio, appointed by Gov. Rick Perry as the official state demographer.

"What people don’t realize is the sheer inevitability of this change," Eschbach said Friday.

It isn’t about immigration, he said. It’s about native-born Texan and American children growing up.

Some white conservatives — not all of them but certainly all the ones with radio shows — fear the "Latinization" of Texas. No reason to fear.

"It’s already happened," Eschbach said.

In a separate new report on population projections, Eschbach and the Texas State Data Center now predict that Texas will become predominantly Hispanic within 10 years, and that the current white population of about 11.5 million is near its peak and will begin shrinking as baby boomers die out between 2020 and 2040. (The African-American population will grow, but more slowly.)

If you’re wondering why all this is important, it’s because aging white Texans will face decisions about taxes and education for a generation of mostly minority children.

"If the state is going to be healthy, we have to invest in children," Eschbach said, repeating part of the presentation he gives across the state. "We have to invest in education. We have to invest in preparing children for a global economy."

In other words, Texas’ future depends on how well we prepare today’s minority children.

Eschbach was blunt.

"The children who don’t 'look like us’ will have the greatest say in the state’s future success," he said.

If Texas were surrounded by a wall tomorrow and all illegal immigrants were removed, the result would be the same.

(According to federal estimates, only 1 in 4 Hispanic schoolchildren in Texas is the child of an illegal immigrant, and only a small percentage are illegal immigrants themselves.)

"If you live your life in the Anglo-majority-dominated world" — like suburban North Texas, one of the whitest parts of the state — "then you might not see the change," Eschbach said.

"But it would be tough to find a schoolchild who thinks of Texas as Anglo. With every passing year, Texas is going to be more Hispanic."

This isn’t about how we teach the Texas Revolution, or whether our 4.7 million schoolchildren learn more than one language.

It’s about our shared future as Texans.

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