The curious case of Mark Martinez: Justice or Just Us?

By Baldo Garza on 03/30/2011 @ 06:00 PM

Tags: immigration, civil rights

This is but one of thousands of stories of young people with a limited future in our country. Understand how remarkable this last statement is. In our country, a specific group of young people have no future.

A young man boarded a bus on a trip to Arkansas to attend a school to become a pastor. On his way to Arkansas, while crossing the border between two states, the bus was boarded by Border Patrol Agents. This is a common practice in this war on terrorism by the Department of Homeland Security.

What criteria used to identify this young man for questioning, perhaps we will not know. Unfortunately, this young man was asked where he was born. He replied in México. Mark was removed from the bus and taken to a detention facility where he was processed. Further questioning, without counsel, occurred. What 19 year old can contest the trained interrogation process by himself?

Finally, after contacting his parents in his home state, he was granted a bond in the amount of $4000. During the times I have appeared for clients in removal proceedings, bonds in the amount of $4000, $5000 or even $7500 are not uncommon. Despite the times we are in and the state of the economy, his parents were able to get the money and post a bond. Mark was allowed to fly back to his home state and returned to his parents. How many others are locked up with no way to go home, sometimes ICE doesn’t even know.

Just a little about Mark. Mark was brought to the United States with his parents when he was five years old for a brighter future. Mark grew up and attended school here in this country. He graduated from high school and has no criminal record.

My question is how much longer will we continue this process? Why are these young people detained? Is it “Justice” or “Just us” mentality? During the last four years, more than 1,442,977 people have been removed; of these, 894,423 were non-criminal. [1] What has this done to these families?

Mark needs our help. I can sense his parents fear and concern. Unfortunately, as with most detainees, access to legal help is not within reach. For more information about how to help people like Mark, please contact the LULAC National Civil Rights Committee.

As a last note, our committee held a Civil Rights Symposium at the Southern Methodist University on March, 26, 2011. Other Civil Rights Symposiums are in the planning stages. If you would like to host a Civil Rights Symposium in your area, please contact me at baldogarza@yahoo.com.

*Names and locations have been changed to protect the identity of the person.

SOURCES

1. ICE Total removals as of December 7, 2010.

Note: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and not necessarily shared by the LULAC National Office.

Multiple Contributors

By Amanda L Keammerer on 03/28/2011 @ 12:00 PM

Tags: policy, education, Hispanic, Latino

The Department of Education recently released the science results for the federally mandated National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) in grades 4, 8, and 12 [1]. The assessment, administered to 156,500 fourth graders, 151,100 eighth graders, and 11,100 twelfth graders, offers valuable insight into students’ understanding of the physical, life, earth, and space sciences. While the update means that we cannot compare 2009 data to earlier assessments, it does offer more current content that can be used for comparison in the future. Inquiry-based thinking and problem solving skills have also been more fully incorporated in an effort to align with current trends.

Although the assessment does not allow the identification of any longitudinal trends, the results do show that Latinos are struggling in relation to their peers. Of 300 possible points, 4th grade Latinos scored an average of 131 compared to 163 for white students; 8th grade Latinos scored 132 while white students averaged 162; and 12th grade Latinos scored 134 compared with 159 for white students. Additionally, 47% of white students scored at or above proficient in grade four while only 14% of Latinos reached the same score. At grade eight, the gap remains high with 42% of white students proficient or above compared to 12% of Hispanic students. In twelfth grade, in general the scores were lower, but Latinos still struggled with 8% at or above proficiency as opposed to 27% of white students and 36% of Asian/Pacific Islander students.

These figures, compounded by the fact that all demographics performed far below expectations and the United States’ mediocre performance on the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) [2], illustrate the need to for improvements in science instruction. The assessment has served as a call to the US education community to improve our system for the economic competitiveness of the nation. In his State of the Union, President Obama highlighted the importance of science and math education in driving innovation and scientific discovery. Referring to our current situation as “our generation’s Sputnik” [3] moment, he called for 100,000 new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) teachers over the next decade. Obama has been promoting increased attention to STEM since early in his term through his 2011 budget and the federal stimulus package. The recently released President’s budget furthered the administration’s support through an optimistic emphasis on STEM that prioritized three main areas: increasing STEM literacy; improving the quality of math and science teaching; and expanding STEM education and career opportunities for underrepresented groups [4]. It provides $435 million for programs that support the preparation of 100,000 STEM teachers over the next decade. It offers investments in K-12 math and science such as $206 million to support STEM professional development, assessments, and instructional support as well as $300 million for another round of the Investing in Education program. It calls for more than $3 billion for STEM education activities across several federal agencies such as NASA and the National Science Foundation.

The proposal also takes steps to provide smaller pots of funding for programs that specifically support minority students. It provides $35 million to Upward Bound, which offers academic support to low income students in preparation for college attendance. $100 million are also recommended for the Hispanic-serving Institutions STEM and Articulation program, designed to increase the number of Hispanic and other low income students earning degrees in STEM fields [5].

Obama has also pushed partnerships with the private sector. The Educate to Innovate initiative has sparked collaboration through a non-profit called Change the Equation [6]. The non-profit, which is a coalition of 110 companies, argues that almost all of the 30 fastest growing occupations over the next decade will require a background in STEM literacy.

Despite support from the administration and the private sector, House Republicans have argued for many drastic cuts, including in STEM education. Prior to the President’s release of his 2012 budget recommendations, the House GOP released a proposal for the remaining 2011 budget, which would apply from March 4 through the rest of the 2011 fiscal year. In it, they propose a reduction of $5 billion from the Department of Education’s $64 billion budget in 2010. While President Obama endorses consolidation of various programs, the GOP chose instead to cut many programs such as the Mathematics and Science Partnership, which provides ongoing professional development to math and science teachers.

It is growing increasingly clear that Latino students are underperforming on STEM literacies and that targeted interventions are necessary. The 2010 Education Week Quality Counts survey gave K-12 education a D in stemming STEM diversity amongst women and underrepresented minorities [7]. The Obama 2012 proposal recommended significant steps toward addressing the poor achievement of the Hispanic community. The challenge now lies in convincing Congress that targeted appropriations are necessary.



SOURCES

1. See http://nationsreportcard.gov/about.asp for more details

2. The PISA is an internationally administered test that measures the performance of 15-year-olds in reading literacy, math literacy, and science literacy every three years. The US ranked 17th of the 34 countries of the Organization for the Economic Co-operation and Development.

3. The 1957 Soviet launch of the first satellite, “Sputnik,” prompted the United States to aggressively reform its education system to provide improved science and math instruction in an effort to compete with the Soviet Union.

4. http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/budget12/crosscuttingissues/stemed.pdf

5. http://diverseeducation.com/blogpost/333/president-obama-s-2012-commitment-to-stem.html

6. http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education/educate-innovate

7. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2010/03/31/27report-b1.h29.html?qs=stem+minority

Science Education and Latino Students

By LULAC National Education Policy Department on 03/28/2011 @ 12:00 PM

Tags: policy, education

Produced by Iris Chavez, Education Policy Coordinator and Andrew Valent, Education Policy Fellow of the LULAC National Office

The Department of Education recently released the science results for the federally mandated National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) in grades 4, 8, and 12 [1]. The assessment, administered to 156,500 fourth graders, 151,100 eighth graders, and 11,100 twelfth graders, offers valuable insight into students’ understanding of the physical, life, earth, and space sciences. While the update means that we cannot compare 2009 data to earlier assessments, it does offer more current content that can be used for comparison in the future. Inquiry-based thinking and problem solving skills have also been more fully incorporated in an effort to align with current trends.

Although the assessment does not allow the identification of any longitudinal trends, the results do show that Latinos are struggling in relation to their peers. Of 300 possible points, 4th grade Latinos scored an average of 131 compared to 163 for white students; 8th grade Latinos scored 132 while white students averaged 162; and 12th grade Latinos scored 134 compared with 159 for white students. Additionally, 47% of white students scored at or above proficient in grade four while only 14% of Latinos reached the same score. At grade eight, the gap remains high with 42% of white students proficient or above compared to 12% of Hispanic students. In twelfth grade, in general the scores were lower, but Latinos still struggled with 8% at or above proficiency as opposed to 27% of white students and 36% of Asian/Pacific Islander students.

These figures, compounded by the fact that all demographics performed far below expectations and the United States’ mediocre performance on the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) [2], illustrate the need to for improvements in science instruction. The assessment has served as a call to the US education community to improve our system for the economic competitiveness of the nation. In his State of the Union, President Obama highlighted the importance of science and math education in driving innovation and scientific discovery. Referring to our current situation as “our generation’s Sputnik” [3] moment, he called for 100,000 new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) teachers over the next decade. Obama has been promoting increased attention to STEM since early in his term through his 2011 budget and the federal stimulus package. The recently released President’s budget furthered the administration’s support through an optimistic emphasis on STEM that prioritized three main areas: increasing STEM literacy; improving the quality of math and science teaching; and expanding STEM education and career opportunities for underrepresented groups [4]. It provides $435 million for programs that support the preparation of 100,000 STEM teachers over the next decade. It offers investments in K-12 math and science such as $206 million to support STEM professional development, assessments, and instructional support as well as $300 million for another round of the Investing in Education program. It calls for more than $3 billion for STEM education activities across several federal agencies such as NASA and the National Science Foundation.

The proposal also takes steps to provide smaller pots of funding for programs that specifically support minority students. It provides $35 million to Upward Bound, which offers academic support to low income students in preparation for college attendance. $100 million are also recommended for the Hispanic-serving Institutions STEM and Articulation program, designed to increase the number of Hispanic and other low income students earning degrees in STEM fields [5].

Obama has also pushed partnerships with the private sector. The Educate to Innovate initiative has sparked collaboration through a non-profit called Change the Equation [6]. The non-profit, which is a coalition of 110 companies, argues that almost all of the 30 fastest growing occupations over the next decade will require a background in STEM literacy.

Despite support from the administration and the private sector, House Republicans have argued for many drastic cuts, including in STEM education. Prior to the President’s release of his 2012 budget recommendations, the House GOP released a proposal for the remaining 2011 budget, which would apply from March 4 through the rest of the 2011 fiscal year. In it, they propose a reduction of $5 billion from the Department of Education’s $64 billion budget in 2010. While President Obama endorses consolidation of various programs, the GOP chose instead to cut many programs such as the Mathematics and Science Partnership, which provides ongoing professional development to math and science teachers.

It is growing increasingly clear that Latino students are underperforming on STEM literacies and that targeted interventions are necessary. The 2010 Education Week Quality Counts survey gave K-12 education a D in stemming STEM diversity amongst women and underrepresented minorities [7]. The Obama 2012 proposal recommended significant steps toward addressing the poor achievement of the Hispanic community. The challenge now lies in convincing Congress that targeted appropriations are necessary.



SOURCES

1. See http://nationsreportcard.gov/about.asp for more details

2. The PISA is an internationally administered test that measures the performance of 15-year-olds in reading literacy, math literacy, and science literacy every three years. The US ranked 17th of the 34 countries of the Organization for the Economic Co-operation and Development.

3. The 1957 Soviet launch of the first satellite, “Sputnik,” prompted the United States to aggressively reform its education system to provide improved science and math instruction in an effort to compete with the Soviet Union.

4. http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/budget12/crosscuttingissues/stemed.pdf

5. http://diverseeducation.com/blogpost/333/president-obama-s-2012-commitment-to-stem.html

6. http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education/educate-innovate

7. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2010/03/31/27report-b1.h29.html?qs=stem+minority

Why I have joined the DREAM Act Hunger Strike

By Brent Wilkes on 12/02/2010 @ 10:10 PM

Tags: immigration

Brent Wilkes

Brent Wilkes, LULAC National Executive Director

For three weeks students in Texas have been on a hunger strike to press Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison to support the DREAM Act. The strike has now grown to 50 people from 4 different states. I have been deeply moved by the inspiration, courage, tenacity and sacrifice that these students have shown and I have decided to join their hunger strike until Congress passes the DREAM Act.

While the DREAM Act was first introduced 10 years ago, the ideals it represents harken back to the founding of our nation. Ever since Columbus set foot in this hemisphere, people from all over the world have been coming to America in hopes for a better opportunity for themselves and their families.

It is deeply troubling to me, that the decedents of those immigrants, including myself, have allowed our immigration laws to become so broken and unfair that the vast majority of our ancestors never would have been able to come here if today’s rules had been applied to them.

What makes the DREAM Act students’ case particularly compelling is that they were brought to this country by their parents. No reasonable person would blame them or insist they be punished for the manner in which they have arrived to our country.

What a reasonable nation should do is look at the manner in which the Dream students have conducted themselves once here, in the United States and that is where the DREAM Act students really shine. In order to be eligible for the proposed program, the DREAM Act students must have done well in their studies, graduated from high school, and be prepared to go to college or enter military service.

In short, these students have done very well despite all the obstacles they have faced growing up and now they are ready to give back to the United States…if Congress would only let them.

I was there at the LULAC National Legislative Gala on February 11, 2009 when Senator Hutchison accepted the LULAC National Legislative Award. I heard her state quite clearly that she supported the DREAM Act because it was the right thing to do.

Senator Hutchison, it still is the right thing to do. You and your Republican colleagues have a chance to show that the Republican Party does have compassion by doing the right thing, passing the DREAM Act, and giving these students a chance. Anything less is simply being mean-spirited and un-American.

I believe that the United States is a better country than one that would punish students because of their parent’s mistakes. I believe the vast majority of Americans still cherish the ideals of our founding fathers—that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are God-given unalienable rights to be honored and preserved. I believe the United States Congress should pass the DREAM Act now and I stand in solidarity with those brave students who have shown us, by their actions, how to stand up for the principals one believes in.

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