Sunday, August 30, 2009

White Man’s Burden: A Dallas Suburb Struggles with its Sudden Diversity

Interesting account of racial politics in Irving, Texas in this month's Texas Monthly. -Angela

White Man’s Burden


Dave Mann | August 21, 2009 | Features

The city of Irving, Texas, has long been known as a genteel white suburb—fed first by white flight from nearby Dallas and later by the arrival of headquarters for international corporations such as Exxon Mobil Corp. It’s also known as the home of the Dallas Cowboys. Driving into Irving from the east, you’re greeted by the town’s most recognizable building: white-domed Texas Stadium, with its iconic hole in the roof under which the Cowboys played home games for 37 years.
But Irving is changing fast. The Cowboys have decamped to Arlington—30 minutes to the southwest—where they’ll play in a new stadium this fall. Texas Stadium will be demolished. More significantly, Irving—like many suburbs, and most of Texas for that matter—is becoming much less white. According to the latest Census Bureau figures, in 2007 Latinos made up about 41 percent of Irving’s population.

Latino families have been moving to Irving for the same reasons as Anglos: affordable housing, quality of life, low crime, good schools. The city’s makeup has changed at a stunning pace. In the 1980 census, Irving was 93-percent white. Latinos are now the biggest group, and Anglos the minority. Many expect the 2010 census to put the Latino population at more than 50 percent.

You don’t need the census figures to see Irving’s changing demographics. Just wander around town. Many restaurant signs and billboards are in Spanish. Even at the Barnes & Noble inside the Irving Mall—a place you might expect to find teeming with white folks—there is a large section of Spanish books. At the Starbucks across the street, customers on a recent Friday morning were ordering lattes en Español.

Yet one place in Irving remains unchanged—city hall. Anglos make up 35 percent of the population, but the mayor and all eight City Council members are white.

Those officials, and the sliver of the population that elects them, are clinging to power. The city has tried to stem the influx of Latinos with tough-on-the-poor housing policies and zero-tolerance of undocumented immigrants. The white elite has maintained control with an election system that makes it nearly impossible for a Latino or African-American candidate—or any outsider—to win elected office, and the city has rebuffed numerous attempts to alter the system.

That impasse may be ending, thanks largely to a 68-year-old, retired aircraft mechanic named Manny Benavidez. A longtime Irving resident, Benavidez has twice run for the school board and lost. In Irving, city officials are elected through at-large, citywide voting. Though each council and school board member represents a certain section of town, all are elected citywide. Many large cities in Texas and across the country allow voters in each district to elect their representatives. Single-member districts have proved successful as a way for African-American and Latino neighborhoods to elect minority candidates. Not in Irving, though, at least not yet.

Benavidez, along with many Latino community leaders, believes the voting system is unfair. So he found a bulldog Dallas attorney and, in November 2007, sued Irving in federal court, claiming that the city’s at-large voting system is discriminatory and violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

On July 15, a federal district judge in Dallas agreed with Benavidez, ruling that Irving’s system had illegally barred minorities from winning city elections. The court forbade the city from holding another City Council election until it institutes single-member districts.

“The voting system was obviously pernicious,” says Bill Brewer, the Dallas attorney who argued Benavidez’s case. “It was designed to exclude minorities from local government.”

Whether or not it was designed to keep minorities out of power, there’s no denying that has been the effect. Only one African-American has ever served on the Irving City Council, though the city of more than 200,000 is about 12 percent African-American. One former council member was half-Latino, though he didn’t have a Latino name and didn’t identify with that community. The seven-member school board historically has been all-white, although it’s had slightly more diversity than the council: Two African-Americans were elected recently. No Latinos currently serve on the school board.

Some are holding on to the status quo. The City Council voted in early August to appeal the federal court order to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, even as city leaders negotiate with Brewer to settle the lawsuit and compromise on some form of single-member district system. (The key point of dispute: Brewer and Benavidez want the entire City Council elected by districts; some city leaders, including the mayor, have proposed hybrid plans featuring from three to five seats from single-member districts, with the rest elected at-large.) Meanwhile, the city is seeking to reverse the court-ordered ban on elections so that Irving can hold campaigns while it appeals the lower-court ruling and negotiates with the plaintiffs.

Whether Irving agrees to single-member districts or is dragged to them by the courts will set a precedent for other cities across Texas and the Southwest. As Texas becomes a majority-Latino state, many formerly white suburbs—places like The Woodlands, SugarLand, Plano, Farmers Branch—are becoming increasingly diverse. Like Irving, those cities will have to decide how or whether to bring minority leaders into a historically white power structure. The issue will become especially urgent after the 2010 census reveals how many Latinos live in these places.

Latino civil rights activists are already talking about the Irving case as a road map for other suburbs to adopt single-member districts. If Irving, despite its resistance, is forced to accept them, other communities might institute them voluntarily rather than endure a long court battle.

“Irving is in transition. It’s no longer a white suburb. It’s a big difference for a lot of the original citizens of Irving,” says Al Zapanta. He heads the Irving-based United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce, comprising major U.S. and Mexican companies. Zapanta straddles the debate. As a Latino, he wants to see at least some single-member districts in the city. He also has ties to the business community and says he doesn’t want to see all city leaders elected that way. He would prefer a 6-3 hybrid system in which six council members are elected from single-member districts. Most of all, he wants the city to settle the dispute out of court and institute a system that grants Latinos and African-Americans some representation at city hall. “Irving is the bellwether city in Texas,” he says. “If we do it right, it’ll help other cities in Texas make the transition.”

The lone Irving City Councillor with Latino roots was James Dickens, who had one Hispanic parent. Elected in 1999, he represented a district in south Irving that is at least 50-percent Latino, but he wasn’t exactly a vocal leader for Latinos. Dickens never publicly discussed his Hispanic heritage, and because of his name, many Irving residents didn’t know he was Latino.
In 2007, a conservative named Tom Spink—angered by city leaders’ failure to keep the Cowboys in town—challenged Dickens. Spink ran on an anti-immigration platform, espousing zero-tolerance and deportation of undocumented immigrants, and won handily. During the campaign, Spink said Irving had become a “sanctuary city.” The fact that an anti- immigration zealot like Spink now represents a district that’s majority Latino symbolizes, for many, the problems with Irving’s voting system.

Spink is a polite, soft-spoken man of 70. He lives in a sprawling ranch house on a mostly Anglo block with his wife and four golden retrievers. Immigration is no longer his top issue. He says Irving has made huge progress on that front. In 2007, after Spink’s election, the city instituted one the nation’s toughest immigration policies. Undocumented individuals detained by Irving police are turned over to the federal immigration service for deportation. At first, Irving was deporting hundreds of Latino immigrants a month, which led to angry demonstrations in 2007 and accusations from Latino leaders of racial profiling. The controversy has died down (along with the number of deportations), but it fueled the perception among some Latinos that a white majority was trying to hold on to power. Spink says the program has been a success and cites the city’s falling crime rate as evidence (crime has dropped 7 percent in each of the past two years). His new top issues are fighting nationalized health care—“I’ve got a lot to say about that,” he says ruefully—and supporting Gov. Rick Perry’s re-election.

Asked about single-member districts, Spink shrugs. He has no problem with the idea, he says, if that’s what people want. He says he voted to appeal the federal court’s ruling because, like other council members, he doesn’t feel the city did anything illegal. While he’s fine with a few single-member districts, he doesn’t want to see the entire council elected that way, as it is in Dallas.

This is a common refrain among those opposed to single member districts. Some in Irving look at places like Dallas, Los Angeles and Chicago, and see what they don’t want to become—Democrat-run, disorganized, corrupt cities. After all, Irving began as a place for white people to escape that kind of city.

Spink, like many in Irving, speaks carefully about the issue. Race is always a sensitive subject, even more so when federal courts and the media are watching. But when white residents who oppose single-member districts talk about not wanting to become “like Dallas,” it’s hard for minority leaders not to suspect that racial code is being spoken. Whatever their problems, those big cities are places where many minority politicians have been elected.

Supporters of single-member districts dismiss the Dallas comparison. The dysfunction in Dallas or Los Angeles or any city isn’t related to single-member districts, they say. It’s a symptom of big-city politics and large city councils (Dallas has 14 members). They point out that cities such as Arlington and Grand Prairie have gone to single-member districts without any trouble.

Quite a few Anglos now see single-member districts as inevitable. Joe Putnam, who served on Irving’s City Council for 13 years and mayor from 1999 to 2005, has urged former colleagues to scrap the at-large voting system. “They didn’t listen to me,” he says. “They’re people who benefit from the present system in one way or another, and so they simply can’t envision a change from the status quo. The truth is that change occurs anyway, and people will accept it. ... The town has outgrown the at-large system.”

Still, proponents of single-member districts have been rebuffed numerous times. As early as the 1970s, there were ballot initiatives for single-member districts. Since Benavidez filed his lawsuit, city leaders have fought it vigorously at every step.

Minority candidates have trouble winning under the current system for two main reasons. Although Latinos make up more than 40 percent of the population, many aren’t citizens and can’t vote. Moreover, many who can vote don’t. The majority of people who vote citywide are Anglos. The second problem is money. Running a citywide campaign costs more than a single-district campaign. For a minority candidate who isn’t well known to white residents, it’s hard to raise enough money to introduce yourself.

In 2003, Rene Castilla, who works at a local college and chairs a city advisory committee, ran for an open City Council seat. He had once served on the Dallas school board and thought he could break the color barrier in Irving. Castilla was seen as an outsider. He had come from Dallas to a town that views all things Dallas with suspicion (except the professional football franchise that bears its name). He was Latino, and he wasn’t well known by the city’s insiders. He had no name identification with voters and found it hard to raise enough money. On election day, he was defeated by a better-known, white candidate.

Castilla sees a system that has locked out most minority candidates and created a leadership elected by a small, like-minded slice of voters. Irving City Council members hardly ever hold town hall meetings, community clean-up days, or outreach events seen in cities with single-member districts. “They operate more like a corporate board,” Castilla says. “They make their decisions, and they give reports to the stockholders once in a while.”

That closed political culture has led to strict housing policies that could limit the number of Latino families in Irving. City officials have also cracked down on code enforcement at apartment complexes, even condemning several low-income apartment buildings. The reduced low-income housing stock has forced some families out of Irving, Latino community leaders say.

The man caught in the middle of all these tensions is Mayor Herbert Gears. He has worked with a nonprofit that helps immigrants earn their GED and find jobs, and he came into office making friendly overtures to the Latino community. But his political future depends on appeasing the Anglo electorate.

During an interview in his office, Gears says he supported the city’s legal appeal to “keep our options open.” He hopes the city will reach a deal with Brewer and Benavidez in the next few weeks. He wants Irving to resolve the single-member district issue without further litigation and to set an example for other Texas cities.

Brewer, the Dallas attorney, says that after the 2010 census, many communities will have to redo their election systems to allow the elections of more minorities to office, or face lawsuits. He hopes the Irving case will prompt other communities to “hopefully change their system voluntarily to allow our new friends and neighbors to participate in municipal elections.”

If Irving—the once 93-percent white town that hosted America’s Team—can change, it can happen anywhere.

Read more Dave Mann in “The Contrarian”.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Huffington Post -- August 23, 2009
By Diane Ravitch

No group had greater hopes for President Obama and his promise of change than the nation's teachers. Poll after poll showed that they despised President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) law with its demand for testing, testing, testing. When asked, teachers said that NCLB was driving out everything except reading and math, because they were the only subjects that counted. Science, the arts, history, literature, geography, civics, all gave way to make more time for students to take practice tests in reading and math. In some districts, the time set aside for practice tests consumed hours of every school day.

NCLB was a failure, and not just because teachers didn't like it. Test scores inched up, but no more than they had before NCLB was passed. Scores on college-entrance exams remained stagnant. Just last week, the ACT reported that only 23% of the class of 2009 was prepared to earn as much as a C average in college. ACT tests over a million students, not only in reading and math, but also in science and social studies. ACT found that more than three-quarters of this year's graduates--who were in fifth grade when NCLB was passed--are not ready for college-level studies.

Part of the problem is that the tests on which so much attention is now lavished are low-level. Students don't have to know much to pass them.

Another part of the problem is that the states have been quietly but decisively lowering their expectations and passing students who know little or nothing. New York State's tests have recently been deconstructed and shown to be a sham. Diana Senechal, a New York City teacher, demonstrated on ( a few days ago that she (or anyone) could pass the New York state examinations in the middle school grades by guessing, not even looking at the content of the questions but just answering A, B, C, D, A, B, C, D, in order. Frederick Smith, an independent testing expert, determined that virtually every student got enough credit on the written portion of the state tests to be able to guess randomly on the multiple-choice questions and pass (

So, what is the Obama administration now doing? Its $4.3 Billion "Race to the Top" fund will supposedly promote "innovation." But this money will be used to promote privatization of public education and insist that states use these same pathetic tests to decide which teachers are doing a good job. With the lure of all that money hanging out there to the states, the administration is requiring that they remove all restrictions on the number of privately-managed charter schools that receive public dollars and that they use test results to evaluate teachers.

This is not change that teachers can believe in. These are exactly the same reforms that President George W. Bush and his Secretary Margaret Spellings would have promoted if they had had a sympathetic Congress. They too wanted more charter schools, more merit pay, more testing, and more "accountability" for teachers based on those same low-level tests. But Congress would never have allowed them to do it.

Now that President Obama and Secretary Arne Duncan have become the standard-bearer for the privatization and testing agenda, we hear nothing more about ditching NCLB, except perhaps changing its name. The fundamental features of NCLB remain intact regardless of what they call it.

The real winners here are the edu-entrepreneurs who are running President Obama's so-called "Race to the Top" fund and distributing the billions to other edu-entrepreneurs, who will manage the thousands of new charter schools and make mega-bucks selling test-prep programs to the schools.

Bob Schaeffer
4163 Dingman Drive, Sanibel, FL 33957
ph- (239) 395-6773
fax- (239) 395-6779

Women at Risk

Here's a powerful quote from Herbert: "Life in the United States is mind-bogglingly violent. But we should take particular notice of the staggering amounts of violence brought down on the nation’s women and girls each and every day for no other reason than who they are. They are attacked because they are female."

This is one of the most--if not the most--under-recognized crisis that we have in our own country. So much of the entertainment industry constructs violence against women as either inevitable or normal. Indeed, this problem is global.


August 8, 2009
Women at Risk

“I actually look good. I dress good, am clean-shaven, bathe, touch of cologne — yet 30 million women rejected me,” wrote George Sodini in a blog that he kept while preparing for this week’s shooting in a Pennsylvania gym in which he killed three women, wounded nine others and then killed himself.

We’ve seen this tragic ritual so often that it has the feel of a formula. A guy is filled with a seething rage toward women and has easy access to guns. The result: mass slaughter.

Back in the fall of 2006, a fiend invaded an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania, separated the girls from the boys, and then shot 10 of the girls, killing five.

I wrote, at the time, that there would have been thunderous outrage if someone had separated potential victims by race or religion and then shot, say, only the blacks, or only the whites, or only the Jews. But if you shoot only the girls or only the women — not so much of an uproar.

According to police accounts, Sodini walked into a dance-aerobics class of about 30 women who were being led by a pregnant instructor. He turned out the lights and opened fire. The instructor was among the wounded.

We have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that the barbaric treatment of women and girls has come to be more or less expected.

We profess to being shocked at one or another of these outlandish crimes, but the shock wears off quickly in an environment in which the rape, murder and humiliation of females is not only a staple of the news, but an important cornerstone of the nation’s entertainment.

The mainstream culture is filled with the most gruesome forms of misogyny, and pornography is now a multibillion-dollar industry — much of it controlled by mainstream U.S. corporations.

One of the striking things about mass killings in the U.S. is how consistently we find that the killers were riddled with shame and sexual humiliation, which they inevitably blamed on women and girls. The answer to their feelings of inadequacy was to get their hands on a gun (or guns) and begin blowing people away.

What was unusual about Sodini was how explicit he was in his blog about his personal shame and his hatred of women. “Why do this?” he asked. “To young girls? Just read below.” In his gruesome, monthslong rant, he managed to say, among other things: “It seems many teenage girls have sex frequently. One 16 year old does it usually three times a day with her boyfriend. So, err, after a month of that, this little [expletive] has had more sex than ME in my LIFE, and I am 48. One more reason.”

I was reminded of the Virginia Tech gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people in a rampage at the university in 2007. While Cho shot males as well as females, he was reported to have previously stalked female classmates and to have leaned under tables to take inappropriate photos of women. A former roommate said Cho once claimed to have seen “promiscuity” when he looked into the eyes of a woman on campus.

Soon after the Virginia Tech slayings, I interviewed Dr. James Gilligan, who spent many years studying violence as a prison psychiatrist in Massachusetts and as a professor at Harvard and N.Y.U. “What I’ve concluded from decades of working with murderers and rapists and every kind of violent criminal,” he said, “is that an underlying factor that is virtually always present to one degree or another is a feeling that one has to prove one’s manhood, and that the way to do that, to gain the respect that has been lost, is to commit a violent act.”

Life in the United States is mind-bogglingly violent. But we should take particular notice of the staggering amounts of violence brought down on the nation’s women and girls each and every day for no other reason than who they are. They are attacked because they are female.

A girl or woman somewhere in the U.S. is sexually assaulted every couple of minutes or so. The number of seriously battered wives and girlfriends is far beyond the ability of any agency to count.

There were so many sexual attacks against women in the armed forces that the Defense Department had to revise its entire approach to the problem.

We would become much more sane, much healthier, as a society if we could bring ourselves to acknowledge that misogyny is a serious and pervasive problem, and that the twisted way so many men feel about women, combined with the absurdly easy availability of guns, is a toxic mix of the most tragic proportions.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

Friday, August 21, 2009

May Be Forced to Learn About Right Wing Politics

May Be Forced to Learn About Right Wing Politics

 Submitted by Southern Dave <>  on Fri, 2009-08-21 15:25 Authored by Gary Scharrer –
Express-News Original Article


As you read the following article about the outlandish draft of new standards being put forth by the Texas State Board of Education, keep in mind the importance o  the age old ‘political commandment’ - Every seat counts. I recall being in Washington DC a few years ago and Howard Dean who was then governor of Vermont and contemplating running for President spoke in earnest about everyone getting involved with politics. He said it's not enough for activists to simply protest or ‘agitate' from the outside. He insisted that more activists run for office. He said all politics are local and because each seat won or lost can have direct impact on our day to day lives people should be running for everything on the ballot. He said run for Mayor, run for city council and run for dog catcher.   Dean also noted that we should be paying close attention to all the seats that are up for grabs when we go to vote.  I know for myself, I have often looked at the top of the ballot, punched the button for mayor and city council and paid little mind to who was running for school board, tax assessor, judge etc. I learned over time those seemingly small seats can make a huge difference in all sorts of areas. As I’m peeping this article, I’m shocked to read how the 15 member Texas State Board of Education put forth a proposal for a required history curriculum that would have our children learning about right wing conservatives like Newt Ginchrich and the Moral Majority headed up by the late Jerry Falwell. And if that’s not crazy enough this same Texas State Board has also proposed to remove Thurgood Marshall and Cesar Chavez from the text books. Yep, you read that right...They wanna remove them...
Just the other night I was at a well attended community forum put on by Southwest Keys in Austin. The topic of discussion was how to bridge the disparity gap in education that has so many Black and Brown kids dropping out or not doing as well as they could in school. Over and over we heard speakers citing studies, recounting their personal experience as educators and quoting from students that they wish to have lessons be more relevant. Black and Brown kids want to hear and read more about their history and heroes and sheroes, many of whom have been omitted from current texts in Texas schools. Many want to see how they have contributed to this great state. It's a shame the 15 TSBE members weren’t in attendance when they put forth their proposal to have little Johnny, or Jose learn all about right wing political people like Newt Grinchrich and not about our own political heroes like Mickey Leland, Barbara Jordan, Gus Garcia or Ciro Rodriguez… My guess is TSBE which has 10 Republicans and 5 Democrats realize the state is set to change and hence they are taken desperate measures. People stay alert and watch this Education board closely - indoctrination of our kids is in full effect.
-Davey D-
AUSTIN- Texas high school students would learn about such significant individuals and milestones of conservative politics as Newt Gingrich and the rise of the Moral Majority — but nothing about liberals — under the first draft of new standards for public school history textbooks.

If everything goes as proposed Texas School kids will be required to learn about former speaker of the house Newt Gingrich
And the side that got left out is very unhappy. As it stands, students would get “one-sided, right wing ideology,” said Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, chairman of the House Mexican American Caucus.
“We ought to be focusing on historical significance and historical figures. It’s important that whatever course they take, that it portray a complete view of our history and not a jaded view to suit one’s partisan agenda or one’s partisan philosophy,” he said.
The State Board of Education has appointed “review committees” made up largely of active and retired school teachers to draft new social studies curriculum standards as well as six “expert reviewers” to help shape the final document.
The standards, which the board will decide next spring, will influence new history, civics and geography textbooks. The first draft for proposed standards in “United States History Studies Since Reconstruction” says students should be expected “to identify significant conservative advocacy organizations and individuals, such as Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schlafly and the Moral Majority.”

Gingrich helped lead House Republicans to their 1994 takeover of Congress and became House Speaker. Schlafly founded the conservative Eagle Forum and became a leading opponent of the Equal Rights Amendment aimed at formalizing women’s equality with men. The Moral Majority formed in the late 1970s as an evangelical Christian organization that influenced politics and public policy for decades.

Whether students will also be exposed to liberal examples from the ebb and flow of American politics is hard to predict. Conservatives form the largest bloc on the 15-member State Board of Education, whose partisan makeup is 10 Republicans and 5 Democrats. David Bradley, R-Beaumont, one of the conservative leaders, figures the current draft will pass a preliminary vote along party lines “once the napalm and smoke clear the room.” But not all conservative board members share that view.
“It is hard to believe that a majority of the writing team would approve of such wording. It’s not even a representative selection of the conservative movement, and it is inappropriate,” Terri Leo, R-Spring, said. “I don’t think either side should be presented under outside labels.”

Another board conservative, Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, thinks students should study both sides to “see what the differences are and be able to define those differences.” He would add James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, conservative talk show host Sean Hannity and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to the list of conservatives. Others have proposed adding talk show host Rush Limbaugh and the National Rifle Association. “I think, at the end of the day, we will want the young students to be able to identify what’s conservative, what’s their advocacy and who are the conservative groups, individuals and leaders. And what is liberal in contrast,” Mercer said.

Among liberals to include, Mercer would nominate the National Education Association,, Planned Parenthood and the Texas Freedom Network — a group that says it promotes “religious freedom and individual liberties to counter the radical right.” “We don’t think it’s appropriate to be listing groups and people in the standards just because they’re conservatives or liberals,” said Kathy Miller, the group’s president. “The state board should simply stop putting politics ahead of our kids’ education and putting teachers in the position of indoctrinating students with political agendas.”

The debate over new social studies curriculum standards will likely intensify in coming months. Two of the reviewers have recommended that César Chávez, the late farm workers union leader, be removed from school history books because they deem him an unworthy role model.

Board members appoint the review committees and typically choose people who share their philosophies. Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, was not sure about one prospective appointee — so she asked.

“Would you consider yourself a conservative when it comes to patriotism, the constitution, the heritage of our forefathers, etc?” Cargill wrote last year in an e-mail to Rhonda Williams, an education coordinator at Stephen F. Austin State University.
Cargill appointed Williams to one of the social studies review committees. The Texas Freedom Network obtained the e-mail exchanges under the Texas Public Information Act. “The majority of the constituents in my 24 counties tend to have conservative views, especially about how history is taught to our students,” Cargill said, explaining her inquiry. Cargill said she expects the review committees will “work toward a fair and balanced approach on this topic when they meet a final time in October.”

Miller remains worried about the outcome because conservatives dominate the State Board of Education.
“When the far-right faction of the board disagreed with the writing teams on language arts, they simply drafted a new document in the dead of night and slid it under board members’ hotel room doors prior to the vote. Shenanigans like that are simply unacceptable,” she said.
Bradley pointed out that critics howled when conservative board members made changes to the recommendations to writing team proposals for English language arts and reading standards and also for the science standards.
“Will the liberals try to defend substituting last minute revisions without adequate time to get expert reviews and evaluation? The shoe is on the other foot,” he said.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dream of a Common Language. Sueño de un Idioma Común

September 2009

Dream of a Common Language. Sueño de un Idioma Común.

The graduates of a radical bilingual education program at Alicia R. Chacón International, in El Paso, would have no trouble reading either of these headlines. What can they teach the rest of us about the future of Texas?

by Nate Blakeslee

On (En) a warm spring morning in east El Paso, I watched a science teacher named Yvette Garcia wrap duct tape around the wrists of one of her best students. We were in a tidy lab room on the first floor of Del Valle High School, in the Ysleta Independent School District, about two miles from the border in a valley once covered with cotton and onion fields but long since swallowed up by the sprawl of El Paso. Garcia taped a second student around the ankles, bound a third around the elbows, and so on, until she had temporarily handicapped a half-dozen giggling teenagers, whom she then cheerfully goaded into a footrace followed by a peanut-eating contest. It was a demonstration of the scientific concept of genetic mutation—or at least I think it was. The lab was taught entirely in Spanish, and my limited skills didn’t allow me to follow a discussion of an advanced academic concept. But these kids could grasp the lesson equally well in Spanish or in English, because they had been taught—most of them since elementary school—using a cutting-edge bilingual education program known as dual language.

In traditional bilingual classes, learning English is the top priority. The ultimate aim is to move kids out of non-English-speaking classrooms as quickly as possible. Students in dual language classes, on the other hand, are encouraged to keep their first language as they learn a second. And Ysleta’s program, called two-way dual language, is even more radical, because kids who speak only English are also encouraged to enroll. Everyone sits in the same classroom. Spanish-speaking kids are expected to help the English speakers in the early grades, which are taught mostly in Spanish. As more and more English is introduced into the classes, the roles are reversed. Even the teachers admit it can look like chaos to an outsider. “Dual language classes are very loud,” said Steven Vizcaino, who was an early student in the program and who graduated from Del Valle High in June. “Everyone is talking to everyone.”

Teaching advanced Spanish literacy alongside English is a goal that no other form of bilingual education even aspires to, but it is the secret to the success of the dual language model. “In most districts, kids are moved out of bilingual education just as soon as they learn rudimentary English,” said Elena Izquierdo, a professor of bilingual education at the University of Texas at El Paso. Dual language takes longer, in part because so much time is devoted to Spanish grammar and literacy. But it pays off down the road. “Learning how Spanish works helps them develop the cognitive skills they need to learn English well,” she said. When it all clicks into place, she said, it’s an amazing thing to see. “Switching between English and Spanish is like breathing for us now,” said Vizcaino, who is going to college in the fall at the University of the Southwest.

Ysleta’s success shows what is possible. It does not, unfortunately, show what is typical. Texas’s adventure in bilingual education is nearing the end of its fourth decade, and the enterprise, by and large, is floundering. Students in bilingual programs across the state are scoring well below native speakers on standardized tests, even after they have been in the classes for years, and they are dropping out of school at more than twice the rate. In many districts, kids who need the classes exit the program too early—or are never enrolled at all—in part because many Texas school administrators either don’t believe in bilingual education or can’t find enough certified teachers to fully staff their classes. But bilingual education is also failing because the Texas Education Agency has scaled back its commitment to the program, and the districts are following suit.

What makes this so dangerous is that bilingual education has never been more critical to the future of this state. Roughly 16 percent of all students in Texas public schools are not fluent in English, a figure that has more than doubled since 1991 and one that most experts consider to be a conservative estimate. Only California has more English learners in its schools. Most of these kids were born in the United States to Spanish-speaking parents and have grown up using Spanish at home. The situation is most acute in the largest school districts, such as Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Austin, each of which is now a majority Hispanic district. In Dallas, one in three public school students is not fluent in English. Research shows that if these kids do not become proficient in English by the ninth grade, the likelihood that they will drop out of school increases dramatically. This is a big part of what is driving the alarming Hispanic dropout rate in Texas, where just seven in ten Hispanic kids finish high school. (This number is according to the TEA; other studies have put the figure much lower and called into question the TEA’s methodology.)

The consequences of this trend are sobering. In 2003 former Texas state demographer Steve Murdock caused a stir with a book called The New Texas Challenge. In a plainspoken, matter-of-fact tone, Murdock laid out a statistical analysis of the implications of the achievement gap between Anglos and minorities in a state with a rapidly growing Hispanic population. (Between 2000 and 2007, the Hispanic population in Texas grew at more than three times the rate of the non-Hispanic population, thanks to a combination of immigration and high birth rates. Texas is now 36 percent Hispanic; by 2040, or sooner, according to some experts, the state may be majority Hispanic.) The median income for Hispanic families is 40 percent lower than it is for Anglos, in large part because more Anglos finish high school and attend college. Unless we can close the education and income gap between Anglo and minority Texans, Murdock warned, a generation from now Texas will have a population that “not only will be poorer, less well educated, and more in need of numerous forms of state services than its present population but also less able to support such services.” Texas, of course, is already a poor state by most measures (such as the number of children living in poverty or the number of residents without insurance). What Murdock is talking about is a whole new ball game: a state where businesses will not relocate; a government that has no money for roads, schools, and bridges; and a home that young people will leave to find a better future.

The good news is that the solution to this problem, or at least a big part of the solution, seems to be in front of us. Like any district that serves a large number of low-income kids, Ysleta has had its struggles. But the dual language experiment has been a success by any measure. By the sixth grade, kids in the program—regardless of which language they spoke when they first enrolled—are outscoring native English speakers on the TAKS tests. They can also read, write, and speak Spanish at a sophisticated level. Not all schools in Ysleta offer dual language, but some that do have waiting lists of families seeking admission for their kids. And for obvious reasons: There was something amazing about sitting in the back of Garcia’s classroom and watching a group of confident and fully engaged young men and women tackling a college-level science course, knowing that most of them had started kindergarten with the enormous disadvantage of not speaking English.

So why aren’t state leaders getting the message? Why, for example, didn’t the state legislature pass a single one of the bilingual education bills introduced in the 2009 session? Why, 34 years after the state was first sued for failing to educate kids who don’t speak English, is the TEA once again under the threat of a federal injunction?

The answer, of course, is politics. Always controversial, bilingual education today has become mired in the ongoing debate over what to do about illegal immigration, which remains the single hottest issue among conservatives in Texas. Education reform advocates have struggled to unhinge the two issues, but so far they have not been successful, perhaps because both debates circle around the same question: What kind of state will Texas become?

Ysleta’s experiment with dual language education began in earnest in 1995, when a visionary superintendent named Tony Trujillo asked a young principal named Bob Schulte to run a new kind of elementary school. Trujillo’s concept became a language arts magnet school called Alicia R. Chacón International, which was a dramatic departure from the status quo in more ways than one. All kids at Alicia Chacón would learn English, Spanish, and a third language of their choice, making the school one of the few places in Texas where elementary school students could learn Russian, German, Japanese, or Chinese. The curriculum included instruction not just in language but in foreign cultures; kids studying Chinese would practice kung fu during gym class.

What was truly radical about the new school, however, was the way the curriculum turned the whole concept of bilingual education on its head. “In my experience, most principals judge success by how few kids they have in bilingual ed classes,” Schulte said. Typically, as higher level speakers exit a bilingual education program, he explained, slower learners and recent immigrants are left behind, and a stigma becomes attached to being “stuck” in bilingual classes. At Alicia Chacón, bilingual education was not thought of as remedial, that is, as a way to “fix” the English language deficiencies of certain students. It was an end in itself.

Marta Valles, whose son Lalo was one of the first kids to enroll at Alicia Chacón, recalled the school’s initial organizational meeting. “There were only three of us there,” she said. “We said, ‘Uh-oh, this is not going to work.’ But they said, ‘Trust us.’ ” Lalo was enrolled in second grade at another elementary at the time, where he was being taught in a traditional bilingual education program. Valles, who was born in Mexico and came to El Paso as a teenager, couldn’t judge Lalo’s progress in English, because she did not speak much English herself. But she noticed that his grammar in Spanish seemed to be getting worse, and she was ready to try something different.

The first year at Alicia Chacón was a struggle. Administrators relied heavily on parents, who were required to volunteer four hours a month. The curriculum was a work in progress, and Lalo struggled with English at first, as many kids in dual language programs do. He didn’t pass the TAKS in English until sixth or seventh grade. Today, however, he is working on a master’s degree at Our Lady of the Lake University, in San Antonio.

Valles sent four more of her kids through the program, and like most of the first generation of Alicia Chacón parents, she became an evangelist for the school, which grew rapidly through word of mouth. Joann Orrantia, another pioneer at Alicia Chacón, was attracted to dual language for a different reason. She was raised in Fabens, a small town near El Paso. “When I grew up, we weren’t allowed to speak Spanish in school,” she said. By the time she had kids of her own, she had lost most of her Spanish, and her daughters, Sara and Renee, were raised speaking English. (Like many El Pasoans, the only Spanish speakers they could understand well were their own grandparents.) Orrantia was reluctant to put them in Alicia Chacón, where they would start out hearing Spanish most of the day, but she decided to give it a try. “My parents were petrified. They said, ‘You’re an American, what are you doing? If you want them to know Spanish, you can teach them.’ But what could I teach them? How to speak to each other, maybe, but doing business in Spanish? No.” Orrantia decided that if her children were going to succeed in El Paso, they needed to learn both languages.

Enrolling a child in a dual language program requires a leap of faith. “All of us, I’m sure, in the first year or two were thinking, ‘Are they really gonna pick it up? Are they gonna lose their English or lose their Spanish?’ ” Orrantia recalled. Recognizing this, principal Schulte had the first group of parents sign contracts promising they would stay in the program for at least five years. “They’re in Spanish for the first four years, and all of the sudden in the fifth grade they get the English,” Orrantia explained. “That’s where the contract comes in. You have to give it time to work.”

The Ysleta ISD now offers a dual language program at sixteen elementary schools, five middle schools, two K—8 schools, and three high schools. Dual language high school courses are available to a limited number of qualified students, like those I visited at Del Valle, where the program has evolved into something akin to an honors track. At Alicia Chacón, admission is by lottery, not by merit. Nevertheless, graduates of the program have acquired an impressive local reputation. Orrantia’s daughter Renee, who graduated from Del Valle in June, recalls that when she entered high school, the other kids looked at her and her fellow Alicia Chacón alumni with awe. “They said, ‘You’re like those little geniuses that learn all those languages, right?’ ”

Bilingual education has been the law in Texas since 1973, when Governor Dolph Briscoe signed the Bilingual Education and Training Act and the state legislature finally conceded that English immersion, that is, putting a child who doesn’t speak English into a classroom where nothing but English is spoken, simply doesn’t work. The new law directed districts with more than twenty kids in need of English language instruction in a single grade to offer bilingual education classes, at least in the early grades. Educators use the acronym LEP when referring to such children, meaning “limited English proficient.” In general, LEP students from seventh through twelfth grade are taught in English as a second language (ESL) classes, which are courses taught not in Spanish but in simplified English, typically with a watered-down curriculum.

In 1975 a group of plaintiffs represented by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund sued the state of Texas, arguing that it had failed to provide an equal educational opportunity for LEP kids, despite the provisions of the 1973 law. Six years later federal district judge William Wayne Justice ordered the TEA to overhaul the program, which has been effectively under his jurisdiction ever since. In 2006 MALDEF petitioned Judge Justice to intervene again, arguing that the state had essentially stopped enforcing the 1973 law and that the LEP program was a failure. It pointed to test scores showing that English learners were scoring well below native speakers on standardized tests—despite the fact that the great majority of those tested had been enrolled in Texas schools for years—and were dropping out of school at more than twice the state average. In a July 2008 ruling, Judge Justice agreed, for the most part. Citing marginal but improving scores among elementary school students, he ruled that the state’s program for younger LEP kids was adequate. But he ordered the TEA to come up with a plan to remedy the achievement and dropout gaps among LEP students at the secondary level, where the crisis was undeniable, and to revisit the way it monitored compliance with the law.

Numbers don’t always show the whole truth, though. Judge Justice’s ruling was welcomed by experts in the field, but many also felt, privately, that it was not entirely correct, or at least that it did not ask the right question. While it is true that the achievement gap between English speakers and English learners is most evident once the students reach ninth grade, the numbers may be concealing the fact that most bilingual education programs are failing students much earlier, and in ways much more difficult to quantify.

“The poor secondary program is a reflection of the failure to implement quality bilingual programs at the elementary level,” said José Ruiz Escalante, a former president of the Texas Association for Bilingual Education and the current president of the National Association for Bilingual Education. Though they may not label it as such, many districts in Texas are using what amounts to an “early exit” model of bilingual education. Based chiefly on their performance on an exam, students are moved into standard classrooms after only a couple years of instruction in Spanish, despite the research that shows that it takes four to seven years to truly acquire academic proficiency in a language. Others never enter bilingual education programs at all, often because immigrant parents think that the classes will slow their children’s acquisition of English, a belief that many school administrators in Texas quietly share and which some seem to be exploiting in order to avoid complying with the law. In Port Arthur, for example, parents refuse bilingual services at eight times the state average, which has produced a school district with a large number of Spanish-speaking kids sitting in English-only classes.

This practice, according to experts like Iliana Alanís, who is the current president of the Texas Association for Bilingual Education, amounts to a de facto form of English immersion and a circumvention of the intent of the law. English learners often manage to pass the first significant assessment they face, the third-grade TAKS, only to fall further and further behind their native-speaking classmates as the language spoken in school moves from a rudimentary level to a more sophisticated form of English. “It’s not that they can’t speak English—they can,” Alanís said. “But being fluent enough to grasp academic concepts in your second language—that’s a different measure entirely, and it takes more time. For a lot of educators, it’s nothing malicious. They just don’t understand the principles behind bilingual education.”

Because a student who exits the program early is no longer officially classified as an English language learner, his or her subsequent setbacks—repeating a grade, failing a later TAKS test, or eventually dropping out of school—don’t go down in the books as a failure of the state’s bilingual education program. But they should. A 2002 study found that limited English speakers whose parents declined to put them in bilingual education classes lagged behind their peers who did participate and dropped out at a higher rate.

Kids enrolled in the programs, meanwhile, are often not getting the services the Legislature intended. Classes are supposed to be taught by certified bilingual or ESL teachers, but the TEA rarely denies requests to waive this requirement. Especially in larger districts, like Dallas, which has been inundated with new immigrants, this has meant a lot of kids being instructed by teachers who, while they may speak Spanish, are not properly trained to deal with a special population.

The TEA has long been criticized for failing to properly monitor bilingual education programs to ensure that they complied with state policy. Six years ago the agency stopped its on-site visits altogether. For veteran observers of this issue, there is a certain circularity to the struggle to reform bilingual education. Twenty-eight years ago, Judge Justice chastised the TEA for failing to properly enforce the law, observing that the staffing of the agency’s bilingual education division was “grossly inadequate” for the task. At the time, the division had ten professional employees. By 2006 it had one.

If the Ysleta ISD schools offer a glimpse of one possible future for Texas, those in Plainview offer another. A city of about 21,000 located fifty miles north of Lubbock, Plainview has already been through the massive demographic shift predicted by Steve Murdock, thanks to the expansion, in the nineties, of the local meatpacking plant, Cargill Meat Solutions, and the construction of Azteca Milling, the world’s largest corn masa flour plant, both of which employ large numbers of Mexican immigrants. In 1980 Hale County, where Plainview is located, was 34 percent Hispanic, a figure that included many migrant workers who did not enroll their children in the local schools. Today the county is 53 percent Hispanic, and the local school district’s enrollment is 72 percent Hispanic. These days Plainview feels like a border community situated three hundred miles from Mexico. Forty-one percent of local families do not speak English at home.

Plainview’s school system is in crisis. For the class of 2008, the four-year dropout rate—that is, the percentage of kids in a freshman class who don’t make it to graduation—was nearly twice the state average. The vast majority of the dropouts were Hispanic kids: Hispanics in Plainview’s class of 2008 were almost two and a half times as likely to drop out as Anglos. Not surprisingly, the percentage of Plainview residents with a high school diploma is low: 67 percent. Per capita income is about $16,000, roughly $10,000 less than the national average, and the poverty rate is 50 percent above the norm. Rates of homeownership lag behind national averages. The property crime rate is 30 percent higher than that of other rural towns the size of Plainview.

“People here are worried about the future,” said Tommy Chatham, who ran the Houston School, an alternative high school in Plainview, for fourteen years before retiring last year. The school provides a day care for teenage parents and a four-hour school day, which allows kids to work and attend classes at the same time. Both concessions are important, since Chatham’s students had left Plainview High for any number of reasons—pregnancy, family problems, or because they simply weren’t learning in regular classes. Many of the kids had jobs, and getting them to see the value of coming back to school was an obstacle. “There are plenty of jobs in Plainview that do not require a high school diploma, and the kids know it,” Chatham said.

At the district headquarters, I met with superintendent Ron Miller and Edna Garcia, who coordinates Plainview’s bilingual program. Miller, an avuncular, mustachioed man in his early sixties, was happy enough to answer questions about his district’s troubles, but after a while he began to seem like a man under siege. He was facing pressure from the TEA to lower his dropout rate, of course, but he had other problems too: Plainview’s tax base was shrinking, voters had recently rejected school construction bonds, and the federal government had just cut the budget for students from migrant worker families.

Despite Plainview’s changing demographics, Miller did not seem to think that language problems factored into the district’s high dropout rate. He has recently received a grant for a new dropout prevention program, but the focus will be on training teachers, encouraging attendance through prizes, and finding internships and training opportunities for students with local employers, not on dealing with the growing number of kids who aren’t fluent in English. By the district’s reckoning, in fact, there aren’t really that many kids in need of bilingual classes. In 2007 Plainview reported that only 9 percent of its kids were LEP. Districts around the state with comparable demographics typically report in the neighborhood of 25 percent LEP.

Garcia told me that the district’s numbers are so low because as a rule the district tries to move kids out of bilingual classes in first or second grade. Plainview also has a large percentage of parents who refuse bilingual services for their kids, though even Garcia seemed surprised when I told her that it was as high as 27 percent in 2006.

Part of the problem, she said, is that an LEP child in Plainview may have to switch schools in order to stay in bilingual education classes. Plainview has six elementary schools, each of which serves pre-kindergarten through fourth grade, but only two of them offer bilingual education for all grades. One offers classes for pre-kindergarten through second grade, one for kindergarten through third grade, one for kindergarten through fourth grade, and one school, Edgemere Elementary, has no bilingual program at all, though 70 percent of its students are Hispanic. Switching schools, Garcia said, is a logistical hassle that some parents are hard-pressed to handle. “Maybe an aunt is picking them up, but she can’t do it across town,” Garcia said, “so they go with what is more convenient, rather than what is best for the child.”

Some might argue that that is also a good description of Plainview’s bilingual education program itself, the scope of which seems to be driven less by demand than by the administrators’ estimates of what is possible. But neither Miller nor Garcia, who was born to migrant farmworkers herself, seemed particularly chagrined by the patchwork nature of Plainview’s bilingual education program. Bilingual-certified teachers were hard to come by, Miller said, and the district had the best program it could manage under the circumstances. “We have been to recruiting fairs in El Paso and had a grand total of zero takers,” he said. “They say, ‘Oh, Plainview, that’s by Dallas, right?’ I say, ‘No, that’s Plano.’ Then they go to the next table.” They have tried to grow their own bilingual teachers—the local college, Wayland Baptist University, has a certification program—but there just weren’t that many biliterate students coming out of Plainview High, nor that many college students willing to stay in the town after graduation.

Irene Favila, a social worker for an agency that serves migrant workers, said that the Hispanic middle class in Plainview, to the extent that there is one, is not reproducing itself. “I’m a baby boomer, and we’re starting to retire,” she said. Favila served twelve years on the city council, while her husband, Rocky, was a longtime school board member. “We are losing so many of these kids,” she said. “Who will take over these positions if our kids are not skilled or educated?”

This is the question, writ large, that Texas lawmakers must do their best to answer in the coming years. Yet not a single bilingual education bill made it through the Legislature in the 2009 session, despite Judge Justice’s looming federal injunction. “Racism and old notions of education block reform session after session,” explained El Paso state senator Eliot Shapleigh. “We already know what works in educating limited-English populations. What is clearly lacking is the political will to create the programs, fund them, and make them work.”

Shapleigh, a fifth-generation Texan now in his fourth term in the Senate, has emerged as the Legislature’s most vocal champion for bilingual education. He refers to Ysleta’s vision statement, which calls for all students to graduate from high school fluent in at least two languages, as the “revolutionary key to the future of Texas.” A Rice graduate with silvering hair, he is a self-taught expert on public education, though his outspoken views on the subject have prevented him from getting appointed to the Senate education committee.

But that has not stopped him from attempting to educate his fellow senators. A few years ago, Shapleigh persuaded Senate education committee chair Florence Shapiro, a Republican from Plano, to come see Ysleta’s dual language program firsthand, and she has spoken positively about it since. This past session, Shapiro authored a couple of modest bills aimed at helping districts identify best practices and improving teacher training for bilingual education. But she also allowed three key bilingual education reform bills to die in her committee. “I think we’re doing as much as we can at this particular time,” Shapiro told reporters after the session ended. There is never a good time for a Republican to get behind bilingual education in Texas, but Shapiro has found herself in an unusually tricky spot politically. She is considering a run for the U.S. Senate if Kay Bailey Hutchison resigns, as expected, to run for governor next year. Because Shapiro is a moderate, she has to protect her right flank against the more conservative Republicans who will jump in the race with her, most likely Attorney General Greg Abbott or Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. The challenge for bilingual education reform advocates is not convincing someone like Shapiro. The challenge is convincing the Republican party primary voters to whom she must appeal. The number of people in this state who actively oppose bilingual educaton is actually quite small, but so is the number of people who would vote in a Republican primary election (or a special election), and the intersection between those two sets is considerable.

For many conservatives in Texas the debate over bilingual education is just one front in the fight over the state’s most pressing issue, illegal immigration. “We really don’t feel like taxpayers should be funding education for the children of people who came here illegally,” said Rebecca Forest, one of the founders of the Immigration Reform Coalition of Texas. Forest, who describes herself as “just a Texas mother,” became concerned about immigration after September 11. Forest said she also considered the last session to be a failure, but for a different reason: None of the key immigration reform bills the group was backing made it through the House, despite the thousands of faxes that supporters of the coalition and other groups delivered to legislators. She felt the media, and maybe some conservative legislators, were underestimating the level of agitation in the grass roots over illegal immigration. “I mean, people are mad.”

More than one person I asked about the politics of bilingual education wanted to talk about the Civil War. Opponents of bilingual education, they argued, are trying to preserve a way of life that, in their minds at least, has been slowly dying for 150 years. Their greatest fear is that Texas will become a state with two official languages, which will mark the end of the dominance of Anglo culture in Texas. If that is true, the fault lines were actually drawn in 1848, by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, when the Rio Grande became the official border of Texas. The inclusion of a wide swath of Spanish-speaking lands—known as the Nueces Strip—meant that Texas was always destined to be an artificial political construction, which, like the creation of Yugoslavia after World War I or Switzerland in 1848, combined more than one culture.

Though it’s hard to imagine a more frightening future than the one that has befallen the former Yugoslavia in recent years, it is the Swiss model that most alarms ideological opponents of bilingual education. Switzerland has four national languages, and almost all children are required to study a second national language from an early age. Although learning Spanish is clearly a way to get ahead in Texas—Texas does more business with Mexico than it does with the entire European Union—nobody is talking about making Spanish an official language here. Still, the fears of conservatives are not overblown in one sense: Even if immigration levels off, as experts predict it will, Texas is headed for an increasingly bilingual future.

What that future will look like hinges in large part on whether our public education system can change. Public education in Texas is already rapidly becoming two-tier: The middle class has largely abandoned urban districts like Dallas, moving to the suburbs. But can the state really afford to abandon the roughly 800,000 LEP kids currently in the system? Or, as Senator Shapleigh put it, “Are we going to have a public education system that prepares everyone to succeed, or are we going to have a shipwreck full of kids who don’t speak English and can’t afford to go anyplace else?”

Dual language programs may provide a lifeline. Boosted by the success of Ysleta, as well as research showing the long-term effectiveness of the model, the adoption of similar courses seems to be gaining momentum, with some eighty districts in Texas now offering dual language on at least one campus. After years of atrocious test scores under its early-exit bilingual program, Dallas schools recently adopted a dual language model. Following that, an unprecedented number of LEP kids scored high on the most recent third-grade TAKS test. Brownsville, while not using dual language, has had considerable success by keeping kids in bilingual classes longer, at least until fourth grade. In some elementary schools in Brownsville, virtually every teacher is bilingual certified.

In many other places, however, superintendents and principals are not buying in, and that includes districts in South Texas and along the border, which have long been run by Hispanic administrators. In the El Paso ISD, for example, which is right next door to Ysleta, an early-exit model is used; sure enough, the district has struggled with LEP test scores and dropouts. “In a lot of areas people running districts now were educated under English immersion, in the old days in Texas,” said José Ruiz Escalante, the former president of the Texas Association for Bilingual Education. “And they feel, ‘Well, if it was good enough for me, it’s good enough for these kids.’ But what they forget is how many of their fellow students did not succeed.”

Copyright © 1973-2009 Emmis Publishing LP dba Texas Monthly. All rights reserved.

Crossroads: Race and Diversity in the Age of Obama

Race and Diversity in the Age of Obama
New York Times (August 14, 2009)

Barack Obama's historic victory was made possible by two great converging forces that began near the middle of the last century: the civil rights revolution and the changes engendered by the Immigration Act of 1965. The civil rights movement led to the rapid dismantling of Jim Crow and the inclusion of black Americans in politics, the military, the middle class and popular culture. The 1965 immigration act set in motion vast demographic and social changes that have altered the nation's ethno-racial landscape.

At present, the foreign-born represent 12.6 percent of the total American population (this is still less than the 14.7 percent reached in 1910, during the earlier great wave of migration). A little over half of these immigrants are from Latin America and a quarter are from Asia. Over all, minorities now constitute slightly over a third of the population; in four states, minorities are the majority: Hawaii (75 percent), New Mexico (58 percent), California (57 percent) and Texas (52 percent), as they are in the District of Columbia (68 percent). It has been all too easy to misinterpret and sensationalize these demographic changes.

Thus Hispanics, we are often told, are now the largest ethnic group in the nation, displacing blacks and overturning America's historic emphasis on black-white relations. But Hispanics are a varied collection of ethnic groups. They are not, and will never become, a single entity. Whatever Judge Sonia Sotomayor may have meant, a wise New York woman of Puerto Rican ancestry has a profoundly different view of the world than a Latina farm laborer in Southern California or an upper-income Chilean-American professional in Florida.

Even more problematic are periodic jeremiads declaring the demographic demise of the so-called non-Hispanic white population. "The massive Hispanic immigration after 1965," Samuel Huntington wrote in his sadly misinformed book, "Who Are We?," "could make America increasingly bifurcated in terms of language (English and Spanish) and culture (Anglo and Hispanic)." Huntington raised the "highly probable" prospect of a revival of racial nativism.

The bogus demographic invention "non-Hispanic whites" is partly the source of such groundless alarums. The more meaningful sociological category is that of people defining themselves as exclusively white, currently about 80 percent of the population and growing, thanks to the fact that almost half of all Hispanics now define themselves as "white alone."

Until recently, the conventional wisdom among social scientists was that the adjustment of recent immigrants to America would be fundamentally different from that of the European immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It has been claimed that they are from different "races" and are entering a harsher postindustrial America with fewer opportunities for mobility, and also that the ease of communication and travel to their homelands discourages assimilation.
However, these arguments miss the real sociological drama that is now unfolding: the present wave of immigrants and their children are rapidly assimilating into an ever-vibrant American mainstream culture, and at a pace greater than the Europeans who came during the previous large wave. The assumption that the current wave should find adjustment harder because they come from different "races" rests on a hopeless misconception. At the time of their arrival, Jews, Italians and other Eastern and Southern Europeans - and even the Catholic Irish - were viewed by native whites as belonging to very different (and inferior) races. In fact, they did not assimilate because they were white; they became "white" because they assimilated.

As assimilation continues, studies show that whatever the language spoken at home, the children of recent immigrants nearly all come to use English as their first language, and they are as American in their attitudes and behavior as their native counterparts. Indeed, the definitive, 10-year investigation by Philip Kasinitz, John H. Mollenkopf, Mary C. Waters and Jennifer Holdaway, entitled "Inheriting the City: The Children of Immigrants Come of Age," reports a "second-generation advantage." Immigrants' children are caught between highly motivated, hard-working parents and the challenges of the American environment, and this actually contributes to their success.

There are, to be sure, varying degrees of success and different patterns of adjustment to America, but underlying them all is one powerful "master trend": surprisingly rapid Americanization. The authoritative synthesis of the present processes of assimilation is Richard Alba and Victor Nee's sociological masterpiece, "Remaking the American Mainstream." It shows that for nonblacks, assimilation is alive and well in America. It is not passive integration into a static, Anglo-Protestant mainstream (which was always a sociological fiction anyway), but an endlessly dynamic two-way cultural process.

The great exception to this process of social incorporation is black Americans. There are two major reasons for this: One is black poverty, which, at almost 25 percent, stands at three times the white rate, just as it did in 1970. Black poverty is the result of a tragic interaction of socioeconomic and cultural forces, succinctly analyzed in William Julius Wilson's elegant work, "More Than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City." In his unremittingly grim account of American inequality, "Categorically Unequal: The American Stratification System," the eminent sociologist Douglas S. Massey locates immigrant and native blacks, as well as Mexican-Americans, at the bottom of a social structure rooted in nearly immutable class, racial and gender prejudice, as well as covert discrimination. Massey outdoes Huntington in the depth of his pessimism.

Massey's analysis makes frightening good sense - until I realize that he is talking partly about me and my many West Indian immigrant friends and relatives who have prospered here, not to mention that other second-generation black politician who almost made it to the White House, Colin Powell. Then some of Massey's bad news seems unreal although, truth be told, West Indians are notoriously insensitive to the white-eyed hounds of racism nipping at their naïve immigrant psyches. That is, except on those occasions when they flip into revolutionary outrage, producing a disproportionate number of the nation's first- and second-generation black militants, like Marcus Garvey (Jamaica) and Stokely Carmichael (Trinidad).

Closely related to blacks' high poverty rate is their chronic hypersegregation, true not only of the great majority of poor blacks but of working-class and middle-class blacks as well. An exhaustively documented study of this subject is "Urban Inequality: Evidence From Four Cities," edited by Alice O'Connor, Chris Tilly and Lawrence D. Bobo. In private life blacks are almost as isolated from whites today as they were under Jim Crow. Whatever the reason - persisting covert racism, black racial preferences abetted by identity politics, or both - their isolation means that the problem of ethno-racial relations in America remains, at heart, a black-white issue. As the example of Henry Louis Gates Jr. demonstrates, even prominent upper-middle-class blacks risk being racially profiled and subjected to humiliating treatment by white policemen, as well as explicit racist abuse.

The United States has worked harder and gone farther than any other advanced majority-white nation in confronting and righting the wrongs of its racist past. The crucial questions that the country now faces are these: How can white citizens, who publicly embrace black citizens as athletic heroes, matinee idols, pop-music kings, talk-show queens, senators, governors and now president, continue to shun them in their neighborhoods, schools and private lives? In their insistent celebration of racial identity, how complicit are black Americans in their own social isolation? And will Barack Obama, who delicately straddles both worlds of immigrant success and black identity, be able to broaden the inclusion of African-Americans? We watch and wait.

Orlando Patterson is a professor of sociology at Harvard and the author of "The Ordeal of Integration: Progress and Resentment in America's 'Racial' Crisis."

Angelo Falcon's response to Orlando Patterson's Op-Ed Piece

by Angelo Falcón

New York Times

Dear Editor,

In his recent Crossroads op-ed, "Race and Diversity in the Age of Obama" (August 14), the preeminent sociologist Orlando Patterson unfortunately betrays great ignorance of the Latino community and the country's current racial-ethnic dilemmas. First, he gives much too much weight to demography and the Civil Rights Movement as the key factors in the election of Barack Obama as President and neglects other perhaps more important, or as important, political factors (but, alas, he is but a sociologist).

He goes on to argue that Latinos are a "varied collection of ethnic groups. They are not, and will never become, a single entity" (something that could be said of almost any social group, including Blacks). Well, that is a much debated and complex issue - the notion of a growing pan-ethnicity among Latinos and its implications.

The Latino population originates from 21 countries, but a good 60 percent do so from one - Mexico. Research and experience are also finding that current anti-Latino and anti-immigrant attitudes in the United States are creating a greater pan-ethnic consciousness than ever before. Terms like "Latino" and "Hispanic," in fact, were literally invented in the United States and are creating new ways for people originating in Mexico, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Ecuador and other countries to identify and even organize themselves politically.

The increasing inter-marriage between Latinos of different national origins is also a trend that is promoting such a pan-ethnic consciousness. Another force in this direction is corporate advertising and Spanish-language media aimed at capturing this Hispanic market and creating a pan-Latino identity.
Patterson ignores all this.

He also tries to allay fears in the White community that they will be overrun by people of color. One of the culprits, he reports, is the "bogus demographic invention of 'non-Hispanic whites.'" By using the "White only" category employed by the Census, he assures Whites that they are currently 80 percent of the population and growing "thanks to the fact that almost half of all Hispanics now define themselves as 'white alone.'"

What Patterson ignores is that Latinos are not only identified in the Census racially, but also ethnically with a separate Hispanic question. About 40 percent of Latinos refuse to accept U.S. racial categories and chose to check "some other race." It is not particularly clear what Latinos mean collectively when less than half identify racially as "White only" in the Census. Professor Patterson's vast oversimplification of these complex racial-ethnic identities and manner in which they are defined is disappointing and misleading.

This problem of oversimplification also spills over into his interpretation of the studies he cites to make his case. For example, in his reading of "Inheriting the City: The Children of Immigrants Come of Age," by Kasinitz, et al. he refers to a "second-generation advantage" as proof of a robust American assimilation process. However, he ignores that study's findings that not all racial and ethnic groups benefit in the same way, with US-born Blacks and Puerto Ricans (who have been US citizens since 1917) caught in troubling patterns of poverty and disadvantage. This selective reading of this study by Patterson is, at the very least, irresponsible.

I could go on raising problems with Patterson's essay, but his appeal to a kind of West Indian exceptionalism and his disingenuous inconclusiveness for the reasons for Black residential segregation would require much more space than I have to address them. But his question about "how complicit are Black Americans in their own social isolation?" takes the cake - it is so ahistorical and offensive that I just lost the desire to go on with this letter.

Angelo Falcón
National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP)
New York, NY August 16, 2009
by Angelo Falcón

New York Times

Dear Editor,

In his recent Crossroads op-ed, "Race and Diversity in the Age of Obama" (August 14), the preeminent sociologist Orlando Patterson unfortunately betrays great ignorance of the Latino community and the country's current racial-ethnic dilemmas. First, he gives much too much weight to demography and the Civil Rights Movement as the key factors in the election of Barack Obama as President and neglects other perhaps more important, or as important, political factors (but, alas, he is but a sociologist).

He goes on to argue that Latinos are a "varied collection of ethnic groups. They are not, and will never become, a single entity" (something that could be said of almost any social group, including Blacks). Well, that is a much debated and complex issue - the notion of a growing pan-ethnicity among Latinos and its implications.

The Latino population originates from 21 countries, but a good 60 percent do so from one - Mexico. Research and experience are also finding that current anti-Latino and anti-immigrant attitudes in the United States are creating a greater pan-ethnic consciousness than ever before. Terms like "Latino" and "Hispanic," in fact, were literally invented in the United States and are creating new ways for people originating in Mexico, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Ecuador and other countries to identify and even organize themselves politically.

The increasing inter-marriage between Latinos of different national origins is also a trend that is promoting such a pan-ethnic consciousness. Another force in this direction is corporate advertising and Spanish-language media aimed at capturing this Hispanic market and creating a pan-Latino identity.
Patterson ignores all this.

He also tries to allay fears in the White community that they will be overrun by people of color. One of the culprits, he reports, is the "bogus demographic invention of 'non-Hispanic whites.'" By using the "White only" category employed by the Census, he assures Whites that they are currently 80 percent of the population and growing "thanks to the fact that almost half of all Hispanics now define themselves as 'white alone.'"

What Patterson ignores is that Latinos are not only identified in the Census racially, but also ethnically with a separate Hispanic question. About 40 percent of Latinos refuse to accept U.S. racial categories and chose to check "some other race." It is not particularly clear what Latinos mean collectively when less than half identify racially as "White only" in the Census. Professor Patterson's vast oversimplification of these complex racial-ethnic identities and manner in which they are defined is disappointing and misleading.

This problem of oversimplification also spills over into his interpretation of the studies he cites to make his case. For example, in his reading of "Inheriting the City: The Children of Immigrants Come of Age," by Kasinitz, et al. he refers to a "second-generation advantage" as proof of a robust American assimilation process. However, he ignores that study's findings that not all racial and ethnic groups benefit in the same way, with US-born Blacks and Puerto Ricans (who have been US citizens since 1917) caught in troubling patterns of poverty and disadvantage. This selective reading of this study by Patterson is, at the very least, irresponsible.

I could go on raising problems with Patterson's essay, but his appeal to a kind of West Indian exceptionalism and his disingenuous inconclusiveness for the reasons for Black residential segregation would require much more space than I have to address them. But his question about "how complicit are Black Americans in their own social isolation?" takes the cake - it is so ahistorical and offensive that I just lost the desire to go on with this letter.

Angelo Falcón
National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP)
New York, NY August 16, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hispanics' roles add to social studies debate

Hispanics' roles add to social studies debate
Aug. 17, 2009, 6:52AM
AUSTIN — Scratch Henry Cisneros, but add Dolores Huerta, Dr. Hector P. Garcia, Sandra Cisneros, Henry B. Gonzalez and Irma Rangel to the list of important Hispanic figures that Texas school children might be discussing in the future.

State education leaders are still in the early stages of writing new curriculum standards for social studies that will shape future history and geography books.

And by the time those new textbooks arrive in fall 2013, a majority of the children attending Texas public schools will be Hispanic.

A debate on which — and how many— Hispanic historical figures should be included is coming to the 15-member State Board of Education, which expects to take a final vote next spring.

It's already under way among the review panels the board appointed, who will huddle with the board this fall.

The board is expected to discuss the social studies issue with experts it appointed to develop new standards at the Sept. 16-17 meeting.

Earlier this summer, board member Mavis Knight, D-Dallas, stressed the importance of describing the contributions of minority groups in school history books.

The first draft of the new social studies curriculum standards includes notable 20th-century community leaders, politicians and artists. Huerta, a co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, would join Helen Keller and Clara Barton to show third grade students examples of good citizenship.
Participant in democracy
The late Henry B. Gonzalez of San Antonio, a member of the U.S. House for 38 years, could end up in fourth grade history books as an example “of individuals who modeled active participation in the democratic process.”

And second grade students would learn about Irma Rangel, who in 1976 became the first Hispanic woman elected to the Texas Legislature and chaired the House Higher Education Committee when the current textbooks were written a decade ago. She died in 2003.

Hispanic children “want to see some brown faces and in Texas there are a lot of people with Hispanic surnames who are a part of Texas history. So that's easy to come by,” said State Board of Education member Patricia Hardy, R-Fort Worth, who has 30 years' experience as a world history and geography teacher and five years experience as director of the social studies curriculum for the Weatherford Independent School District.

“But you cannot distort Texas history. You cannot give people an elevated place in history when their place was not elevated,” she added.

Texas history must be taught in a way that incorporates the distinctive features of the community where the students live, said Texas' first state historian, Jesus F. de la Teja.

One of six board-appointed “expert reviewers” who will help recommend the new standards, he said the ultimate goal of teaching history is to make students feel they are part of the story.

“And you cannot make them feel a part of the story if the story you are telling is irrelevant to their lives,” said de la Teja, chairman of the history department at Texas State University.
Forgotten history
David Barton, another “expert reviewer,” would emphasize older history.

“There are so many good guys, why just stay on the 20th century?” asked Barton, founder and president of WallBuilders, an organization that emphasizes America's moral, religious, and constitutional foundation while promoting its forgotten history and heroes.

But some team members worry that traditional American values and historical perspective will be de-emphasized to promote multiculturalism.

“I argued in favor of only adding or maintaining people on the (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) lists that merited being there on the basis of their historical accomplishments and not simply due to their gender or ethnicity,” said Peter Morrison, a real estate developer and member of the Lumberton ISD school board and a member of the Grade 5 review panel.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “I felt that I was the only one in the group using that metric.”

State education board seeks limits on PE classes

Also refer to an earlier post to this blog Some worry new high school rule will allow students to load up on sports, band" highlighting the concerns that led up to the SBOE's propsal.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

By TERRENCE STUTZ / The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN – State Board of Education members asked staffers Friday to propose rules that would limit the number of physical education credits high school students could count in meeting Texas' new graduation requirements.

Board members said they are concerned that a new state law changing the requirements could allow some students to take more than a fourth of their classes in PE or PE substitutes such as athletics, cheerleading and marching band.

Lawmakers increased the number of electives that most students can take in high school, but they put few restrictions on what classes can be used to meet the new course requirements.

"This is a real temptation to game the system," said board member Geraldine Miller, R-Dallas. "We can't allow some students to get easy A's by taking so many PE credits."

Miller and other board members asked the Texas Education Agency staff to bring back recommendations in September that would restrict the number of credits a student could earn in physical education.

As it stands, students in the "Recommended High School Program" – the plan followed by most – could take up to seven credits in PE or PE substitutes as part of the 26 credits required for graduation. That includes one required PE credit – equal to two semesters – and six electives.

'Enrichment' courses

In the past, students were limited to two credits in PE and PE substitutes during their four years of high school.

While the board has some authority over graduation standards, it cannot add new requirements that affect "enrichment" courses – generally those available to students as elective classes.

However, education agency officials told the board Friday that it does have authority over which classes can count as substitute courses in a subject and whether the number of substitute courses should be limited in meeting graduation standards.

Board members will be presented with a range of options in September. The standards cannot be changed for the coming school year, which in most school districts begins on Aug. 24. But new rules could be implemented for the 2010-11 school year.

House Public Education Committee Chairman Rob Eissler, author of the legislation, said while he never considered the possibility of a student having so many PE credits, he is not worried that a large number of students will follow that path.

"I don't think it's going to happen," said Eissler, R-The Woodlands. "And if a bunch of kids tried to do that, local school officials could step in and adjust their course requirements. That's what we call local control."

Potential for abuse

Eissler also noted that students will have to take rigorous academic classes under the state's "four-by-four" requirements, mandating four years of instruction in English, math, science and social studies.

But Miller and other board members see it differently.

"Kids are kids, and we know this could become an option for some," she said. "We need safeguards to prevent any abuses like this."

Some board members said they also think the Legislature may have made a mistake in eliminating health education and computer technology as course requirements in high school. So they have asked the staff to study whether those courses could be made mandatory in middle schools or junior high schools.

Already, the board was told Friday, many districts have decided under local policy to keep health education and computer technology as required courses in high school, at least for the coming school year.

Hiring Women as Full Professors

Higher Ed Issues
August 14, 2009

When colleges and universities release reports about the state of gender equity on their faculties, administrators quickly follow up with a caveat: The numbers may look out of balance over all, they say, but that's because most of the senior professors are all men, and the greater share of women among junior professors provides reassurance that things will get better over time.

That sort of comment reflects a reality that most institutions confront. Many of those at the rank of full professor started their academic careers in an era when the number of women coming out of Ph.D. programs was very small and those who did earn their doctorates weren't necessarily welcomed into the profession.

The University of Texas at Austin this week announced the results of faculty hiring for the coming academic year, showing notable gains for women. And in the College of Liberal Arts, the results show that -- in addition to making institutions welcoming for young female scholars -- a top research university can change the dynamic at the senior level, too. The college hired six women as full professors -- when the greatest number ever hired previously had been three and the norm in most years has been one or none.

While some educators at Texas have been focused for years on hiring more women as faculty members, the progress followed a detailed analysis that was released in November and that many credit with drawing wider attention to these issues at Austin. The study found that women made up 19 percent of the full professors, 25 percent of the tenured faculty, and 39 percent of the tenure-track faculty -- percentages that placed UT behind peer institutions that are also leading research universities.

For the first year after the critique was released, 42 percent of the 117 faculty members joining the university are women -- above the percentages of any category to date. In the liberal arts college, the figure is 46 percent -- with a particular focus on attracting senior women. In addition to hiring a record number of six full professors who are women (one of whom has yet to be officially announced), the college made counteroffers to fend off efforts to woo three other full professors who are women.

"What they did is very unusual, because there are more issues with recruiting full professors, who have more complicated lives and who may be very happy where they are," said Philippa Levine, a British historian who will be moving to Austin from the University of Southern California. Levine said she wasn't looking to move, but was swayed by the "dynamism" she found at Texas. And at a time when public universities are complaining that they can't outbid private universities in putting together packages, Texas did so.

Texas "absolutely" offered her more. "It's an entirely appropriate and extremely generous package," she said. "My sense was that UT was very shrewd in understanding the way these politics operate." She added that while she is pleased to see Texas and other institutions hiring more women in the junior ranks, "you don't change the structures" unless you also expand the number of women in the senior ranks.

The university has some advantages this year over its counterparts elsewhere in that while there is belt tightening going on in Texas, as everywhere, the magnitude isn't as great as it is elsewhere. There are no furloughs at the university. There is a merit-based raise pool. And there is money to go after top candidates.

Randy Diehl, dean of liberal arts, said it was important for universities not to simply wait for junior professors to rise through the ranks. He said that the presence of women in the senior ranks is part of what you need to encourage younger women, and that there are issues of bias if an institution doesn't add women as full professors. Diehl noted, for example, that the highest salaries for full professors go to those who didn't come up through the ranks, but who were recruited from one institution to another. Universities that rely on gradual promotion from within will not see a narrowing of average faculty salaries between men and women, he said.

"If you look at the data going back 20 years, universities have been statistically biased for men in the senior ranks," he said.

No searches are limited to women, he said. But by focusing attention (and money), the liberal arts division for the first time ever hired more women than men as full professors by a margin of 6 to 3, the exact opposite of a year ago. And the university made a conscious decision to act on "any good opportunities" even if that meant expanding the hiring plan.

So a job search that started off without the intent to hire a senior scholar in Middle Eastern studies turned into a decision to hire two senior scholars in the field, when the department was able to recruit a wife-and-husband team from Harvard University -- Jo Ann Hackett, former director of graduate studies in Near Eastern languages and civilizations at Harvard, and her husband, John Huehnergard, a former chair of the department.

The other women hired as full professors (whose appointments have been announced) are: Jennifer Johnson-Hanks, an anthropologist who (along with her husband, William Hanks, also an anthropologist in the same department) is leaving the University of California at Berkeley; and two linguists coming from Pennsylvania State University: Barbara Bullock and A. Jacqueline Toribio.

Because these are women who have successful careers at their former institutions and no immediate need to move, Diehl said that the efforts succeeded in part because faculty members at Texas were keeping their ears open. "We seize opportunities where they arise, and when we have a shot at recruiting a distinguished scholar who is a woman, we try to make that happen," he said. "We're looking out there and asking who is movable."

Johnson-Hanks, one of those who was, said that she had great students and colleagues at Berkeley, and wasn't so much looking as "willing to listen" when she and her husband were approached. On the whole, she said she was drawn by "an intellectual vision for where the university was going," and she said that the prime factor in moving was related to scholarship and the sense of vitality she found.

But to the extent money was a role, UT held the upper hand (and the decision was made prior to the most recent round of cuts at the University of California). She said Texas offered more money, and that while Berkeley matched the offer, other financial factors favored Texas. "We could buy a gorgeous house for what we got selling a tiny house in California," she said. "We will be living where there are great public schools, but in California, we couldn't afford a home in the areas with great public schools."

The liberal arts division is not ignoring opportunities outside the full professor ranks -- and the shift is evident there, too. While 46 percent of all tenured and tenure-track women joining the college this year are women, that percentage was 36 percent three years ago, and 32 percent the year before that.

Texas officials said that they could not have made the progress they did at the senior levels without a commitment from the senior administration and a willingness to spend real time on the process. Identifying, recruiting and moving senior faculty members takes longer. "Most of these efforts started two years ago. This is not a one-year thing," said Richard Flores, senior associate dean.

Even as Texas officials are celebrating progress in recruiting senior level women, they are considering other strategies for other parts of the university.

Judith H. Langlois, vice provost of the university, said that given that UT is "very large and very decentralized," the view of the central administration has been to "resist the temptation to come up with one and only one way to promote gender parity."

In the engineering college, for example, officials have decided to tell departments that they have to be "more serious" about identifying women and minority candidates for finalist pools, moving beyond the idea that you just announce an opening "and pick three to come in." Langlois said that particularly in fields like engineering, it was important to find ways to expand the pools. So departments are doing much more outreach to national laboratories and industry laboratories than in the past because these employers have hired plenty of female engineering Ph.D.'s.

Such efforts, she said, need to take place along with recruiting talent from other universities "or else you just have the major universities playing musical chairs."