POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE School Failure v A recent report issued by the National Council of La Raza shows one result of unfairly distributed income. The 75-page study gives national data on the increasing failure of public schools to provide for the needs of Hispanic children and information on how the needs of Hispanics are met in the ten states with the highest Hispanic enrollment: Texas, California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York. Findings of the La Raza report include the following: Fifty-six percent of Hispanic adults are functionally illiterate compared to 44 percent of black adults and 16 percent of white adults. About 50 percent of the Hispanics drop out of high school before receiving a diploma; they not only drop out in higher numbers than other groups but leave at an earlier age–many have left school before the end of their sophomore year. Hispanics have the lowest college completion rate of any group; only nine percent of those 29 years old or over are college graduates. They comprise only . a small portion of the teaching force: 2.6 percent of all elementary school teachers and 1.7 percent of secondary school teachers compared to 85 percent and 90 percent for whites and twelve percent and eight percent for blacks. v’ And some people apparently would like Hispanics to remain exactly where they are, if not a few rungs lower. Texas state Rep. Jim Horn, R-Denton, is at the helm of English First, a project of the Committee to Protect the Family, located in Falls Church, Virginia. Horn has sent out a mass mailing calling on every “Fellow American” to join him in the battle against bilingualism. Horn claims that many immigrants these days refuse to learn English. “I don’t know about your forefathers, but when mine came to America, the first thing they did was learn English. . . . They wanted to be part of the American dream and they knew that learning English . . . was a moral obligation.” Horn says that these modern-day immigrants never become productive members of the American way of life. People promoting bilingualism, he says, don’t want foreign language groups to learn English and assimilate into American culture. He says that radical activists have been caught sneaking illegal aliens to the polls to cast fraudulent votes and the National Education Association sees bilingual education as a means to force schools to hire more teachers and swell union ranks. Horn asks those receiving his letter to sign a petition and send money. The petition, naturally, calls for a congressional amendment to make English the official language of the United States. V Working on the other side of the fence are two groups trying through the courts to equalize distribution of the current level of state aid to Texas public schools. The two groups represent the plaintiffs and the plaintiff intervenors in Edgewood v. Kirby, a suit dealing with the inequities of HB 72. The groups represent 193,000 students from 14 Texas counties, and, if their suit is successful, low-wealth school districts could gain a substantial amount of new state aid. A study by the Equity Center indicates that poor school districts could receive as much as $500 million more per year and shows that, if the court requires the State to undertake equalization on that scale, and the legislature decides to maintain current levels of state aid to the richer districts, the total amount of state aid to all schools will increase by as much as $2 billion per year. The increase for poor districts would double, rising to $1 billion. 1,1 Meanwhile, the research arms of the state’s flagship universities are fattening up on military contracts. Mark White recently announced that the University of Texas will provide the lead laboratory for the development of advanced military systems using pulsed-power technology. Over the next several years, UT’s Center for Electromechanics will receive tens of millions of dollars to build America’s next generation of tanks, electromagnetic propulsion systems, and rail guns. White said that “CEM’s work is a perfect example of the economic development payoff that comes from investment in research.” Not to be outdone, Texas A&M University is one of several state institutions in the country to receive Pentagon grants to provide biological research for research in germ warfare. The army claims that these biological studies are defensive in nature, but some scientists say the research lays the groundwork for a new U.S. biological weapons system. Since 1971, the Army has increased its spending tenfold on the research of infectious diseases and toxins. V The sanctuary movement has at least one friend in Congress. U.S. Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez, D-San Antonio, is attempting to present to the House an amendment to decriminalize activities of people working within the movement, but so far he has received little support from colleagues. He also has met problems in legislative procedure: because Gonzalez is not a member of the House Judiciary Committee, the House Rules Committee must decide whether he will be allowed to present the amendment this session. The proposal would protect from prosecution people sheltering refugees who would be “subject to persecution . . . if returned to the alien’s country of nationality or last habitual residence” and would protect those , providing shelter for religious or ethical reasons. Although not tied to the nationality of refugess, the amendment would be mainly concerned with refugees from El Salvador. Gonzalez is co-sponsoring a bill that would temporarily legitimize the immigration of refugees from that country. Illegal Smiles U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, raised a small storm with a comment to the Bryan College Station Eagle in September. Barton said illegal immigration was one of the top concerns of his constituents, and went on to explain, “In my district, any time you go out, you see individuals of Hispanic descent who appear to be illegal. You drive down the street in a low-income neighborhood and you see 15 or 16 young Hispanic adults sitting on the front porch. Not many families have 15 or 16 children of the same sex.” His opponent in this fall’s race, Pete Geren, said the comment demonstrated Barton’s insensitivity. Hispanic leaders criticized Barton’s stereotypical portrayal of Mexican Americans as poor, idle, with overgrown families and the “appearance” of being illegal. Barton said the only thing he would revise about his statement was that he meant not many families have 15 or 16 children of the same age and sex. V The middle class in the United States has stopped growing “by nearly all measures,” according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal. Just after World War II, the economic standing of the rich and the middle class steadily rose, resulting in decreased numbers of poor people. But, beginning in the late 26 OCTOBER 10, 1986
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