Times are a-Changin': My Thoughts in Huff Post

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Yesterday I made some “no holds barred” statements to the Huffington Post about school finance, politics, and race.

First, the background.

Brookings said minority children will be the majority in the entire United States by 2019. The growth in the Latina/o community fueled almost all of the population growth in the United States over the last ten years. CNN reported:

White children are now in the minority among people under 18 in 10 U.S. states and 35 large metro areas, according to a Brookings analysis of 2010 Census data.

Hispanics registered an increase of 4.8 million, which kept the nation’s overall child population from declining

FoxNews (AY CHIHUAHUA) reports:

In all, non-Hispanic whites make up roughly 65 percent of the U.S. population, down from 69 percent in 2000. Hispanics had a 16 percent share, compared with 13 percent a decade ago. Blacks represent about 12 percent and Asians roughly 5 percent. Multiracial Americans and other groups made up the remaining 2 percent.

In fact, Latina/o students populations become majority in K-12 in California in 2012 and in Texas in 2011.

Across the U.S.:

  • 1/5 of all K-12 students in the nation are Latino
  • ¼ of Kindergarteners are Latino.

I gave an interview to the Huffington Post yesterday. The reporter asked the following:

I am working on a story with which I am hoping that you can help me. It has come to my attention that CA’s Latino and non-Hispanic white population are expected to reach parity this year and the Latino population to surpass the white population shortly thereafter. I would like to look at this issue nationally and am hoping that you can help me. I would love to chat about the other states where this pattern will soon take shape, your sense of when this may occur and it’s social and political implications. I’m particularly interested in what this pattern means for education funding and spending priorities, or rather what it should mean versus what it has meant to date.

My thoughts about school finance in Texas are lingering on the debate about redistricting in the last session. Even though the majority of growth in the nation and the state of Texas is due to Latina/os, political redistricting here and elsewhere yielded very small political gains. The argument that Texas made in the Supreme Court was that the redistricting had nothing to do with race (not allowed) and instead was focused on party politics (allowed). However, clearly, there was a disparate impact on Latina/os and African Americans in the choices made by the Texas Legislature as evidenced by the decision from the panel of federal judges in DC.

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Here are my thoughts in the Huff Post article:

That same year, Latino students became the majority population in the state’s public schools, Vasquez Heilig said. Across the country today, about 25 percent of all kindergarten students are Latino.

“If the student growth in Texas had been white kids,” said Vasquez Heilig, who studies how educational policies and funding affect diverse students, “I do not believe that the legislature would have cut $5.4 billion from our school budget. I believe personally that there is a racial dynamic to funding in our schools.”

Many states around the country slashed education funding during and just after the recession. Texas legislators who voted for the cuts said the recession and the state’s budgetary struggles made the cut unavoidable. Vasquez Heilig thinks the overwhelmingly white and Republican 2011 state legislature didn’t feel connected or politically beholden to the state’s Latino population and may have been seeking political revenge on the 70 percent of Latino voters who supported Democrats.

“I know that’s controversial but I’m saying it,” he said. “We know for sure that race and politics are inextricably linked.”

More evidence on the interaction between politics, race, and schools besides the Texas $5.4 million school finance debacle? I also stated:

And Texas is not alone. Right now, black and Latino children — particularly those from low-income families — generally attend the worst schools in the country and have the least experienced and least qualified teachers. Some of the country’s best-known education reformers pretend that this situation is sustainable, even desirable, according to Vasquez Heilig. Some are even surprised or try to disguise the fact that schools filled with brand-new teachers typically fail to make academic progress.

Similar to the redistricting fight in Texas, even if the Texas Legislature didn’t have the explicit “intent,” the results of the $5.4 billion cuts to education disparately impact Latina/o and African American children because of their growth and the districts that serve them dependence on state funding. Politics, schools and race have always been inextricably intertwined in Texas— see Jim Crow. So why would it be different now?

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Categories: African Americans, Latina/os, School Finance

Author:Julian Vasquez Heilig

Julian Vasquez Heilig is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning and African and African Diaspora Studies (by courtesy) at the University of Texas at Austin.

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One Comment on “Times are a-Changin': My Thoughts in Huff Post”

  1. b_ford_respect4teachers
    January 23, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

    No doubt that race has always played a huge role in the US, US education and the financing of US education. I still prefer to treat this as a matter of class and/or socio-economic status, however. That is not to deny that there is prejudice at both conscious and unconscious levels, but rather to suggest that well-to-do legislators who need to fund raise constantly are not interested in any poor kids — white, black or hispanic.

    The real problem is that less well-to-do whites do not recognize this, that they often vote against their own interests because they have bought in to the ideology of those who have made oddles of money in the business world. I think that, because they are not subject to the same type of prejudice as blacks and hispanics, they delude themselves into thinking they’ll be one of those glittery people they see on TV, in big cars, etc. Whatever the negative effects of being subject to prejudice (and worse), one positive is that you are less likely to be taken in by shills for corporate profits.

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