February 10, 2006

The Public Forum . . . El Foro Publico

What About Disadvantaged Children and Title I?

Regarding “No Child Left Behind Leaves Hispanic Children Behind” by Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (2/3/06), why is it that La Prensa upper management has not turned its in-depth investigative “light of truth” (in an ongoing series) onto what’s been going on in San Diego City Schools (SDCS) with respect to Title I since 1998? There’s a lot to report there, especially when you consider the number of city schools that are entitled to receive Title I funds versus the total number of schools SDCS maintains (including charters, something like 136 out of 186 schools; city school enrollment has been roughly 30% of all county students 1998-2005). 

Also, I think La Prensa readers would find it most revealing to examine how the original intent of Title I funding has systematically been allowed (by SDCS and other similarly inclined county school districts) to be diverted away from disadvantaged students while simultaneously ignoring the Congressional language which specifically designated the Title I program to accelerate and implement the closing of the achievement gap such as between Hispanic/African-American students (comprising almost 60% of SDCS students) and White/Asian students (comprising only 34% of SDCS students). 

Everyone now admits that the achievement gap in city schools was never significantly improved at the middle and high school levels of SDCS between 1998 and 2005, despite the city school board’s decision to “redirect” approximately $450 million in Title I monies to support their so-called “Blueprint for Student Success”. Many comparable school districts statewide produced significant achievement gap reduction while still utilizing Title I funds (between 1998 and 2005) in strict accordance with federal enabling legislative guidelines.

  Worse yet, minority parents (in too many cases) have little or no clue with respect to their incredible rights and power under existing Title I legislation (such as mandated School Site Councils, site governance teams, District Advisory Council representation, to mention but a few). 

SDCS only gives lip-service to the full implementation of such programs because it has a vested interest in keeping parents, grandparents, foster parents, and other responsible student advocacy parties uninformed on such matters. Why? Because then democracy and the real “school site” needs of SDCS children would have to be fully exposed to the cold light of truth, and that would (too often) contradict and/or undermine the “spin” we read on the pages of the local media from SDCS upper management. 

There’s a lot of money at stake with respect to an in-depth Title I investigation which could have an important impact on the futures of 136,000 children (almost 40% of SDCS students are Hispanic), not to mention the already lost futures of the hundreds of thousands of children since 1998 who have been so ill-served by the Title I implementation of SDCS. 

  A word of caution: La Prensa should not allow itself to be mis-led and purposely mis-directed (by SDCS) into the maze of NCLB funding; Title I funding for SDCS can (and should) still be tracked independently of NCLB. 

I feel certain that many thousands of parents, teachers, and students would be forever in La Prensa’s debt if it were to embark upon such an important editorial and investigative campaign regarding Title I funding for city schools. Wasn’t it George Santayana who wrote that those “who ignore history are doomed to repeat it”? The question remains: What really happened to the Title I funds sent from the federal government to SDCS between 1998 and 2005, and how much of those funds was really used to directly help disadvantaged children in the classroom?

Mike MacCarthy
San Diego

MacCarthy is President of Voters For Truth in Education (VOTE) and can be reached at mmwrites@san.rr.com

Women hold the key to Sudan

I just read a report from Zainab Salbi from Women for Women International about her recent travel to Sudan. I’m shocked that the devastating crisis continues to be ignored. 

But what Zainab pointed out was hope for this country that we cannot afford to ignore. Buried in stories about the mass rapes, genocide and towns where every building in sight has been leveled are stories about women who are banding together to build a future.

These women have become fierce promoters of peace and education, and they hold the key to Sudan’s post-war recovery. After war, it is often women who come to the table first and in Sudan, these women are targeting clean water and education as their top priorities - not more fights over the country’s few resources.

We need to shine a light on these women. The Sudanese deserve the peace, clean water, food and schools for their children that they seek. With all our foreign policy conflicts, support for women and aid can become a success for us. Sudanese women are pointing the way. We shouldn’t let this opportunity pass us by - for our sake and the sake of the Sudanese.

Patricia Nagy
via email

Hispanic children fail due to lack of effort

Pehaps Mr. Hinjosa (Commentary: “No Child Left Behind Leaves Hispanic Children Behind” By Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, published February 3, 2006) should be focusing on how these English learners should learn English to better themselves and stop thinking in terms of seperate ideologies like Chicanismo and Reconquista. Mexican and Mexican-American youth fail in school because they and their parents don’t make the effort to become part of the American mainstream. I believe all federal and state funding to bi-lingual education should be completely eliminated. These misguided programs were established decades ago and have proven to be tremendous failures. The hish school exit exam consists questions based on 8th grade math and 10th grade English. If a Hispanic person with a GPA of 3.84 cannot pass the exam after six tries, how the hell did she get that far without cheating or having her high staff cheat for her! Mr. Hinojosa you do all of your people a great injustice by advocating the educational system in california dumb down or eliminate the exit exam because Hispanic students can’t fathom it.

Reuben Sagun
via email

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