Thursday, April 06, 2006


Part of the controversy over the Omaha Public Schools’ quest to take over suburban districts is the OPS claim that increasing numbers of non-English speaking students are making it harder and more expensive to bring the average OPS student to acceptable levels of literacy and numeracy.

They may be right. Around 50% of the Hispanic students who enroll in OPS eventually drop out without obtaining a diploma. That compares to a graduation rate of around 90% for whites.

The language barrier and the burden of attempting to educate children who aren’t facile with English appear to be downgrading the academic experience of longtime American citizens, especially low-income African-American children. But it’s not just them; it’s everybody. If you look at the statistics, academic decline or inertia go all the way up and down the demographic scale.

It’s enough to make one question the wisdom of the federal law that requires schools to enroll children of illegal immigrants, no questions asked. Removing the lure of a free American public education for your children would be a powerful disincentive not to illegally come here. Reversing that one requirement might be the single-best way to make life easier on public schools and give them a fighting chance with the children of law-abiding, bona fide immigrants, and of course American citizens.

Otherwise, things don’t look to be getting any better any time soon. Here’s a rather distressing report on the academic achievement gap between white students and those of Hispanic origin. It’s from the Education Commission of the States, a quasi-public organization of state school superintendents and others with a lot of say-so in implementing public policy.



Among the findings:

-- Hispanic high-school graduates are actually only on a par academically with white 13-year-olds. That based on an analysis of test results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

-- In the past, the longer an immigrant family is in the United States, the better the successive generations do in school. But that’s no longer true. The report pointed to "troubling declines in educational performance from one generation to the next" for Hispanic Americans. “While newly arrived Mexican immigrants strongly desire to learn English, acculturate and participate in American society, subsequent generations of U.S.-born Mexican Americans develop more of an oppositional identity to American culture that rejects performing well in school.”

-- The achievement gap goes ‘way beyond the “cultural-ecological theory” -- which holds that minorities underachieve in school because they recognize that, relative to whites, their chances of benefiting from education are quite limited.

-- Hispanics have declined markedly in their English reading skills over the past decade. According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, in 1992, 35 percent of Hispanics demonstrated ‘below basic’ English literacy, but by 2003 that segment had swelled to 44 percent. The decline happened with higher-achievers, too: the proportion of Hispanics demonstrating intermediate or proficient English skills dropped to 27 percent from 33 percent in 1992.

You can get more details from:


Another distressing aspect to this is that, on the surface at least, the Hispanic community doesn’t even know that its skills are sub-par. Or maybe those who are marching and agitating don’t care. But they literally “look bad on paper.”

An article Wednesday in
www.HoustonChronicle.com, “Coach disciplined for distributing flier at school; Instructor urged Latino students to attend rally on immigration,” revealed some pretty hideous language “skills” on the part of a public high school teacher named Rudy Rios.

He was fired as junior varsity baseball coach at Chavez High School last week after using a district copying machine to make a flier. The flier encouraged Latino students to attend a rally protesting restrictions on illegal immigration. He kept his $42,000 job as an English as a Second Language teacher.

His flier read:

"We gots 2 stay together and protest against the new law that wants 2 be passed against all immigrants. We gots 2 show the U.S. that they aint (expletive deleted) with out us (sic)."

I bet the one word he spelled RIGHT was that expletive. Ay, carumba!

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