December 5, 2003

Training is outcome

Por Andrés Lozano

Prosperity increased and the time to accomplish it shortened when education was recognized as a must. It was a marvel discovering what could be attained with the three R’s: Readin’, ‘ritin’ and ‘rithmetic. It is crucial to understand the ways education influences success and the swiftness with which it is reached. Upon landing in America, it places incoming workers at their starting points in the workplace. It is self-evident: Those in possession of better skills start from a vantage point. The unskilled that make a priority out of training as a leveling tool, also move fast forward.

Thus, it has not been the same arriving from Europe, Korea or Taiwan than from Latin America. An exception was the first wave of Cuban immigration made up mainly of skilled groups that, in half a generation, assimilated into the American middle class. By the early ‘80’s they were already prevailing in southern Florida and in 1986, elected Robert Martinez, the first ever Cuban-American governor. George W. Bush would not have been elected president without their massive electoral support. That prominent and notorious they have become thanks to schooling. The second Cuban wave of immigration, ‘the marielitos’ in 1980, arrived unskilled due to Castroist lack of preparation. Even worst, they experienced the facade of instruction, a shackle because it hampers recipients to identify their comparably inadequate training and open themselves to learn what in theory they already know, simply because a worthless diploma claims so. This is the traumatizing legacy of fraudulent nominal instruction.

Training is outcome. A chasm exists among immigrants: European, Korean or Taiwanese basic education and its nominal Latin American equivalent. Differences lie on measurable knowledge not on certificates. Living in the land of fantasy is assuming that a Latin American diploma compares, in terms of effective training, with a European or Korean one. Russians, Yugoslavians and Koreans, may arrive without a nickel in their name, yet their effective level of instruction ascertains they quickly reach mainstream income levels. Resolve may even land them in charge of California’s governorship. On the other hand, most Latin American immigrants lack effective teaching. Average schooling among Latin American immigrants stands at the third grade level. Topping this handicap, they arrive burdened with misinformation and throwbacks delaying social integration.

Unrealistic assumptions of reality and how to improve prevail in Latin America. Reading the news or watching political programs explains why these nations crawl instead of walking. Unimaginative and ill-prepared chattering classes conclude that the government must do almost everything, be in the initiative and all their problems originate abroad; no one takes responsibility. Internally and externally demonstrated mistakes are repeated as mantras. Never so ominous the assertion that “ignorance entails recurrence of mistakes.” Emigrants carrying upon their shoulders this misinformation burden are at a disadvantage when competing for well-paid jobs. Due to the lethal combination of poor training and absently gathered misinformation, unavoidably they gravitate towards poorly rewarded chores.

What it takes half a generation to other immigrants to reach, often takes two or more generations to Latin Americans to accomplish, the gap between getting started as a skilled versus unskilled worker. The sad reality is that, along with its emigrants, Latin America exports all the wrong reasons why its societies are benumbed. It is symmetrical and unnecessary to search for more in order to understand handicaps and time required by Latin American immigrants to this country to overcome them. Skilled workers are in a position to advance quickly to technical positions, and thereon reach higher education and change their lot in a few years time. For those starting at the bottom of the bottom of the barrel, their hope is that their children or grandchildren may become skilled workers. Instruction or its absence allows or hampers community organization and plays a role in securing or forfeiting improvements.

The first and crucial step is learning to speak, read, write and think in English. This is a most important idea, since crafty operators not only consider that learning English is unimportant but also peddle for the availability of alternative education in Spanish. Those promoting this state of affairs, are manipulating the community for their own ends, in order to create a compliant, easy to exploit, permanently disadvantaged, underclass. The success story behind other immigrations, where English was not their first language, was the head-on adoption of English as their main language.

Bilingual and multilingual skills are superb, providing mastery and main usage of English as the language of the land. Other languages are excellent auxiliary, not chief, tools. Wherever, linguistic fealty towards a language other than the established implies disadvantages. To survive, English speaking parents and their children emigrating to Mexico, must learn and speak in Spanish. Offspring of German and Italian immigrants in America may or may not speak their parents’ languages, importance being relative. Imperative is that they speak English, the magic wand carrying them to the fulfillment of the American promise.

Andrés Lozano alozanoh@msn.com

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