Dear Mr. President

Thank you for giving children the promise of a brilliant future and a place in our nation!

There has been a lot written on the struggle that Dreamers are faced with, but little about the sincere, genuine and real story of what it is like to be a child without a nation.

What a gift to give a child — our young –a dream and a nation to believe in!

Great President’s are defined in critical moments, because their values and principles can hurt a nation or build a nation. President Obama, we at eLatinaVoices commend your action on making it possible for children, ripped by immigration, to stay and contribute to our future.

We will remember this moment as one that defines our nation and your Presidency. With courage, conviction and strength you have taken a step to build a nation united for the common good of all.

Dreamers will contribute and devote their lives to a nation struggling to find hope in the American Dream. A Dream that all of us believe in.

Mr President we will remember!

eLatinaVoices

GOING TO HIGH SCHOOL UNTIL YOU ARE 18?

ONLY 21 states require students to attend high school until they graduate or turn 18. The proposal President Obamaannounced on Tuesday night in his State of the Union address — to make such attendance compulsory in every state — is a step in the right direction, but it would not go far enough to reduce a dropout rate that imposes a heavy cost on the entire economy, not just on those who fail to obtain a diploma.
In 1970, the United States had the world’s highest rate of high school and college graduation. Today, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, we’ve slipped to No. 21 in high school completion and No. 15 in college completion, as other countries surpassed us in the quality of their primary and secondary education.
Only 7 of 10 ninth graders today will get high school diplomas. A decade after the No Child Left Behind law mandated efforts to reduce the racial gap, about 80 percent of white and Asian students graduate from high school, compared with only 55 percent of blacks and Hispanics.

Like President Obama, many reformers focus their dropout prevention efforts on high schoolers; replacing large high schools with smaller learning communities where poor students can get individualized instruction from dedicated teachers has been shown to be effective. Rigorous evidence gathered over decades suggests that some of the most promising approaches need to start even earlier: preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds, who are fed and taught in small groups, followed up with home visits by teachers and with group meetings of parents; reducing class size in the early grades; and increasing teacher salaries from kindergarten through 12th grade.

These programs sound expensive — some Americans probably think that preventing 1.3 million students from dropping out of high school each year can’t be done — but in fact the costs of inaction are far greater.

High school completion is, of course, the most significant requirement for entering college. While our economic competitors are rapidly increasing graduation rates at both levels, we continue to fall behind. Educated workers are the basis of economic growth — they are especially critical as sources of innovation and productivity given the pace and nature of technological progress.

If we could reduce the current number of dropouts by just half, we would yield almost 700,000 new graduates a year, and it would more than pay for itself. Studies show that the typical high school graduate will obtain higher employment and earnings — an astonishing 50 percent to 100 percent increase in lifetime income — and will be less likely to draw on public money for health care and welfare and less likely to be involved in the criminal justice system. Further, because of the increased income, the typical graduate will contribute more in tax revenues over his lifetime than if he’d dropped out.

When the costs of investment to produce a new graduate are taken into account, there is a return of $1.45 to $3.55 for every dollar of investment, depending upon the educational intervention strategy. Under this estimate, each new graduate confers a net benefit to taxpayers of about $127,000 over the graduate’s lifetime. This is a benefit to the public of nearly $90 billion for each year of success in reducing the number of high school dropouts by 700,000 — or something close to $1 trillion after 11 years. That’s real money — and a reason both liberals and conservatives should rally behind dropout prevention as an element of economic recovery, leaving aside the ethical dimensions of educating our young people.

Some might argue that these estimates are too large, that the relationships among the time-tested interventions, high school graduation rates and adult outcomes have not been proved yet on a large scale. Those are important considerations, but the evidence cannot be denied: increased education does, indeed, improve skill levels and help individuals to lead healthier and more productive lives. And despite the high unemployment rate today, we have every reason to believe that many of these new graduates would find work — our history is filled with sustained periods of economic growth when increasing numbers of young people obtained more schooling and received large economic benefits as a result.

Of course, there are other strategies for improving educational attainment — researchers learn more every day about which are effective and which are not. But even with what we know, a failure to substantially reduce the numbers of high school dropouts is demonstrably penny-wise and pound-foolish.

Proven educational strategies to increase high school completion, like high-quality preschool, provide returns to the taxpayer that are as much as three and a half times their cost. Investing our public dollars wisely to reduce the number of high school dropouts must be a central part of any strategy to raise long-run economic growth, reduce inequality and return fiscal health to our federal, state and local governments.

Henry M. Levin is a professor of economics and education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Cecilia E. Rouse, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University, was a member of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2009 to 2011.

$107.4 MILLION AWARDED TO MORE THAN 100 SCHOOLS THAT FOCUS ON SERVING LATINO STUDENTS

More than 100 Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) will receive a total of $107.4 million to strengthen and expand educational opportunities for Latino students, the U.S. Department of Education announced today. The HSI program provides grants to make college more attainable for Hispanic students and allows institutions to enhance their academic offerings, program quality and institutional stability.
About $100 million of the funds are designated for 109 grants that will enhance science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) components at schools that enroll a high percentage of Hispanic students. The grants may be used for purposes such as scientific or laboratory equipment for teaching, the construction or renovation of facilities, purchasing educational materials, academic tutoring or counseling programs, teacher education, and student support services.
In addition, approximately $7.8 million is being awarded through the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions program. Thirteen grants will be given to schools to assist them in furthering educational opportunities for students through faculty development, curriculum development, academic tutoring and mentoring, and other services.
“We know that Latinos will play an integral part in helping America reach President Obama’s goal of having the highest college graduation rate in the world by 2020,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “These two programs will help to spur academic achievement for Hispanic students, especially within STEM programs, which are key to building a highly skilled workforce that can compete in a global marketplace.”
Both programs fund grants for a total of five years.

A Hispanic-Serving Institution is defined as an eligible institution of higher education that has at least 25 percent Hispanic full-time equivalent (FTE) undergraduate enrollment students at the end of the award year immediately preceding the date of the application.

More information about the Hispanic-Serving Institutions grant programs are available at: www2.ed.gov/programs/idueshsi/index.html.

Hispanic education in crisis

By Steve Kingstone & Zoe Conway BBC News

Why Latino children in Alburquerque are falling behind

Hispanics make up the fastest growing segment of the American population, but are lagging when it comes to education. The consequences are huge not just for individual families, but the entire American economy.

President Obama said last year that Hispanic school children faced “challenges of monumental proportions”. He was articulating what many in the United States have been worrying about for years – that Latinos – from kindergarten to university – are falling far behind.

A White House report published in April states that less than 50% of Latino children are enrolled in pre-school; just 50% earn their high school diploma on time and, those who do are only half as likely as their peers to be prepared for college. Just 13% have a degree.

‘Democracy in peril’These percentages are troubling enough. What makes them truly alarming is the addition of another set of numbers – the demographics of Hispanic America. For they are the youngest and fastest growing group in the country. They make up 16% of the population now and will account for 29% of the population by 2050.

“Start Quote

If we allow these trends to continue, it won’t just be one community that falls behind – we will all fall behind together.”

End Quote US President Barack Obama

The issue has essentially reached a tipping point. It’s harder to ignore the problems facing a minority group when they affect a third of the population. And there are economic reasons to care. How well Hispanic school children master their ABCs today will help determine the GDP of tomorrow.

At present, America can boast the best educated workforce in the world but in 50 years’ time, the majority of those workers will be Hispanic. If they are uneducated, what hope is there for American global competitiveness?

There are also fears about how poor educational outcomes could lead to greater inequality in America. In a 2009 book, The Latino Education Crisis, professors of education Patricia Gandara and Frances Contreras warn that: “Latino students today perform academically at levels that will consign them to live as members of a permanent underclass… their situation is projected to worsen over time.”

Later, they write: “If their situation is not reversed, democracy is in peril.”

Unique problemsMany of the problems facing Hispanics affect all minority groups – for example the difficulty of accessing high-quality schooling. But there are problems unique to this group. Consider the language barrier – four million Latino children struggle in class because they are still learning English, even though three quarters of them were born in the United States.

Hispanic mothers have far less education than their counterparts in other ethnic groups. According to Professors Gandara and Contreras, formal education is not as much of a priority in Latin America as it is in the US, so the parents may not be pushing their children to succeed or may feel intimidated by the school system.

 

 

 

Dr Veronica Garcia: ”It is critical that we as Americans wake up and let our politicians know that this achieve gap is not okay”

There is also the issue of immigration status. On average 1 million legal immigrants have been admitted to the US each year since 1990, while roughly 500,000 have come illegally or overstayed their visas. According to the Census bureau, 50% of immigrants are from Latin America.

Undocumented children and the US-born children of undocumented parents can be at a disadvantage because their parents may be reluctant to access the full range of support services available for their children.

Failed dreamsPresident Obama tried and failed in 2010 to pass the Dream Act – a law that would give undocumented Latino students, brought to the US as children, the right to US citizenship so they can attend University.

“This is not just a Latino problem; this is an American problem. We’ve got to solve it because if we allow these trends to continue, it won’t just be one community that falls behind – we will all fall behind together,” says President Obama.

The law is opposed by those who think that such an amnesty encourages illegal immigration.

Some states are working towards their own version of the Dream Act. The California state legislature passed a bill offering state-sponsored financial aid to non-resident students who attended state high schools for at least three years. The bill is currently awaiting the signature from the governor.

 

Gov Susana Martinez: ”We cannot concentrate on one race and not another”

Texas governor Rick Perry, who allowed children of illegal immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition rates at Texas’s state universities, now finds that position under attack as he runs for President.

There is much debate among politicians and policy makers about whether Hispanic children should get special attention or whether they should be treated like any other low income group in terms of educational inequity.

Whichever way that particular debate shakes out one thing is for certain – the political power of Hispanics is rising. Politicians cannot afford to ignore these challenges much longer.

Education department settles with feds over English-immersion teachers

By Gary Grado – gary.grado@azcapitoltimes.com

Published: August 29, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Arizona will no longer remove teachers from English-immersion classrooms if they use bad grammar or have heavy accents.

Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal worked out a settlement with the federal government in which the state will only consider whether teachers in the English Language Learner program are fluent – not how they speak the language.

The policy change ends separate, 10-month discrimination investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education, according to an Aug. 26 letter from the agencies.

The agencies alleged that Arizona’s application of a state law that requires English teachers to possess a good knowledge of the English language discriminated against Hispanic teachers and their students. Millions in federal money was at stake.

According to the letter, state Department of Education monitors used subjective evaluations when they made brief classroom visits to assess the fluency of English Language Learner teachers.

“Examples of concerns documented by ADE during their on-site classroom visits include: ‘the’ pronounced ‘da,’ ‘another’ pronounced ‘anuder,’ and ‘lives here’ pronounced ‘leeves here,’” the letter reads.

This is the second of four civil rights complaints leveled against the state Department of Education that Huppenthal has resolved this year.

As part of a March settlement, Huppenthal agreed to expand the state’s survey for identifying students who aren’t proficient in English. Former Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne limited the survey to one question in 2009 because he believed the only thing the state needed to know was a student’s primary language. Huppenthal expanded the survey to include two additional questions.

One of the pending civil rights complaints involves whether the state’s English proficiency test incorrectly classifies students as proficient.

Another complaint alleges that the state is unlawfully segregating non-English speaking students because it requires them to take four hours a day of English immersion. That complaint also says those students are denied access to other academic curriculum.

A Huppenthal spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

DREAM ACT STUDENTS CHEER OBAMA’S IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT POLICY

August 18, 2011 | 2:55pm – Los Angeles Times

The news that the Obama administration was planning to halt virtually all deportations of Dream Act students and possibly their familiesdrew cheers and applause from several students and immigrant rights activists who gathered at the downtown Los Angeles office of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.”This is huge,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the coalition, which has long lobbied for the measures announced Thursday. “This is wonderful for all the families who are currently facing deportation.”She said, however, that she remained cautious to see if the administration would actually enact what it pledged to do. “If they do what they say they’ll do, this is good.”Pedro Trujillo, an undocumented Cal State Northridge student, greeted the news with a big grin and a double thumbs-up. Trujillo was brought to Los Angeles from Mexico at the age of 6, entered Bravo Medical Magnet High School and hopes to become a middle-school history teacher. An immigrant rights activist, Trujillo helped raise money for a fellow undocumented student facing deportation last year and traveled to Arizona to protest a controversial anti-illegal immigrant law. His mother cried in fear that he would be caught and deported, he said, but the announcement Thursday may mean he will not become subject to deportation proceedings.”It’s going to be a life-changer for many people who have been around raids in the fields, construction sites and sweatshops,” said Trujillo, one of several students at the group’s office. “It’s a huge weight off our backs.”

The Obama administration announced Thursday that undocumented students and other low-priority immigration offenders would not be targeted for deportation under its immigration enforcement programs. These eligible students are those who were illegally brought to the U.S. as children by their parents.

The move means that those who are in deportation proceedings will have their cases reviewed and, if they are set aside as low-priority, could possibly be given work permits. Low-priority individuals will also be less likely to end up in deportation proceedings, officials said.

“There are 300,000 in the caseload who will be looked at, one at a time,” said a senior administration official.

The announcement immediately drew attacks from critics who said that the policy amounts to an “administrative” amnesty program without approval by Congress.

“Today’s policy announcement clearly demonstrates the Obama administration’s defiance of both the constitutional separation of powers and the will of the American public in its relentless effort to gain amnesty for illegal aliens,” stated Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “From the outset, the administration has refused to enforce many immigration laws, essentially placing its own political agenda ahead of its constitutional responsibilities to carry out laws enacted by Congress.”

The announcement comes at the same time that hundreds of documents were released that a federal judge says show immigration officials misled states and local governments on how the so-called Secure Communities enforcement program would work.

“There is ample evidence that ICE and DHS have gone out of their way to mislead the public about Secure Communities,” U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin wrote in an opinion on the release of the documents. “In particular, these agencies have failed to acknowledge a shift in policy when it is patently obvious — from public documents and statements — that there has been one.”

The documents show immigration officials struggling with whether the Secure Communities program is voluntary or mandatory for state and local agencies and changing its messaging to the public after some localities tried to opt out of the program. The U.S. Homeland Security fingerprint-sharing program uses prints collected by state and local police to help immigration authorities identify and deport tens of thousands of people each year.

The new revelations come as organized opposition to the program steps up with several protests around the country in the last few days. It also comes just weeks after U.S. Homeland Security told governors that the program did not need their approval to operate and that it was voiding agreements signed to authorize their states’ participation. The documents were released as part of an ongoing lawsuit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the Immigration Justice Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

Brown signs California Dream Act

New law covers private funding; governor signals he may also favor expanding public Cal Grants eligibility

By Maeve Reston, Los Angeles Times-July 26, 2011

Following through on a campaign promise, Gov. Jerry Brownsigned a law Monday easing access to privately funded financial aid for undocumented college students. He also signaled that he was likely to back a more controversial measure allowing those students to seek state-funded tuition aid in the future.Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), author of the private financial aid measure, described it as an important but incremental step toward expanding opportunities for deserving students who were brought to the U.S. illegally through no choice of their own. Cedillo is pressing ahead with a more expansive measure that would make certain undocumented students eligible for the state’s Cal Grants and other forms of state tuition aid.Brown said he was “positively inclined” to back that bill but would not make a decision until it crosses his desk.”I’m committed to expanding opportunity wherever I can find it, and certainly these kinds of bills promote a goal of a more inclusive California and a more educated California,” Brown told reporters after the bill-signing ceremony Monday.For Brown, signing Cedillo’s bill was a gesture of goodwill toward Latino voters, who helped elect him in large numbers last fall. Legislation providing education funding to undocumented students has been a top priority for many Latino groups, which have found many of their efforts thwarted so far at the federal level. Last year proponents failed to marshal enough votes in the U.S. Senate to ensure passage of the federal DREAM Act, which would have created a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. before age 16 if they attended a college or served in the military.Brown’s position on the California Dream Act was being closely monitored after he angered some prominent Latino leaders by vetoing a bill last month that would have made it easier for farmworkers to organize. Though Brown noted in his veto message that he signed legislation helping farm workers unionize during his first stint as governor in the mid-1970s, his veto was sharply criticized by the United Farm Workers, which counted the bill among their top priorities.But several analysts who study Latino politics said the California Dream Act was far more important symbolically to many in the Latino community. Fernando Guerra, director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University, said the bill was viewed by many as a measure of social acceptance of Latinos because it would increase opportunity for the best and brightest among the undocumented.The California Dream Act has drawn strong support across the Latino community, said Jaime A. Regalado, director of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs.”If [Brown] was looking at the balance sheet, understanding politically that he needed to sign one of these measures, it was not going to be competitive,” Regalado said. “It’s seen as a civil rights issue in the Latino community, especially for youth. The farmworkers’ struggle is not necessarily seen as what it once was. This is an issue of the now, an issue of the moment, part of the Latino agenda and part of the future.”But opponents of the legislation say it will diminish opportunities for U.S. students.”Obviously it falls into a different realm when the money is coming out of private pockets than it does when it’s coming out of taxpayers’ pockets,” said Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group that advocates halting illegal immigration, “but nevertheless, foundations and other institutions that get tax exemptions should not be promoting policies that encourage people to remain illegally in the United States.”
During a signing ceremony at Los Angeles City College, Brown largely brushed over the thorny politics of illegal immigration and sought to frame the legislation as part of the struggle to maintain education funding during California’s budget crisis.

“The debate is very clear: shrivel public service, shrink back, retrench, retreat from higher education, from schools, from the investment in people; or make the investment,” Brown said. “This is one piece of a very important mosaic, which is a California that works for everyone.”

Brown used the issue last year against his Republican opponent, Meg Whitman, during a Fresno debate.

After an undocumented student had asked the candidates to explain their position on such legislation, Brown said that he backed the proposal and that Whitman wanted to kick undocumented students out of college, adding “that is wrong morally and humanly.”

maeve.reston@latimes.com

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times