LatinaLista — Texas is a majority-minority state. Of the minorities that call the Lone Star state home, 8.9 million are Latinos — making Texas only second to California in having a high Latino population.
Along with that distinction is the grim reality that Latino students are faring badly in the state’s public school system. Texas schools are losing a student every 4 minutes and Latino students make up 48% of the public school student body.
According to the Intercultural Development Research Association’s (IDRA) annual school attrition study from 2008-09, Texas schools lost 31 percent of their students. In IDRA’s 1985-86 inaugural study, 33 percent of students were lost. The attrition rate gaps between White students and Black students and between White students and Hispanic students persist. The gap today is higher than 24 years ago.
At current pace, the state will lose an additional 2.3 million to 6 million students before reaching an attrition rate of zero in 2042.
Why? Gov. Rick Perry said it was because it could give Washington too much say in deciding what the state’s students should learn since there are strings attached to the money.
What Washington wants school districts to do if they get the funding, which in Texas’ case would have been $350 million to $700 million, are:
Adopt (national) standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy;
Build data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction;
Recruit, develop, reward, and retain effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and
Turn around our lowest-achieving schools.
These are elements that are no-brainers and should be adopted by school districts who want to stop the bleeding of students and start retaining and graduating their future workforce, but not Texas.
Perry has made it no secret that when it comes to accepting help from Washington, well, he’d rather gallop around baseball bases hooting for Texas to secede from the Union.
But this latest political tough-guy stance shows that when it comes to the welfare of his constituents, he thinks less of the well-being of the neediest among them and more about being loyal to his party’s ideals.
It’s understandable that Perry should worry about Washington having too much say over Texas’ curriculum since he made sure to appoint people to the Texas State Board of Education who agreed with him on what Texas school children should learn and not learn.
That’s power that no man wants to give up, let alone a politician who’s counting the days until Republicans take back the White House. Yet, in this case, where school districts are financially suffering to provide current services and meet current needs of their students, Perry’s refusal for help does a disservice to the largest minority group in Texas.
One of Perry’s main arguments against accepting the funding is that he doesn’t want Texas to have to adopt a national standards curriculum. At the rate Texas students are performing and the degradation of the curriculum that some of the State Board of Educators want to implement, it’s hard to see why that would be such a bad thing.
It’s obvious that Perry has selfish political motives for doing what he did — and people are noticing.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) issued a press release today denouncing Perry’s decision:
“It is extremely disappointing that politics will stand in the way of securing funds to address critical shortages in meeting the educational needs of students who most need the help. Now Texas will be forced to address its needs with limited state funding,” stated David Hinojosa, MALDEF Senior Litigator and lead counsel in MALDEF’s 2008 U.S. v. Texas legal victory in which a federal court declared that Texas is failing to overcome language barriers for tens of thousands of Latino students in secondary programs.
This is politics at it’s worst and a politician who forgot that he is supposed to be looking out for the interests of ALL of his constituents, especially the youngest among them.