March 14, 2003

Editorial

Keep the Dream Alive For Our Children

There is nothing more precious to us than our children. They are our future, and as we watch them grow up, we hope, dream, and pray that they receive the best. Paramount in our dreams is that our children receive the best education possible, for it is through education that their, and our, dreams for them will come true. On this I think we all agree.

With that stated, we find it incredulous that in this time of budget crunching that the first and deepest cuts are in our educational system. Our California State Universities are raising tuition, community colleges are following suit, shutting the doors to many Hispanic students who now cannot afford this secondary education. Teachers are being handed their pink slips in preparation for their eventual firing. Schoolbook purchases for the future or being slashed. Administrators and districts are seeking ways to increase class sizes back to the old days, support staff and programs are eliminated and this only the tip of the iceberg.

For the Hispanic students these budget cuts are compounded. The American dream of an equal education for all has failed to be realized by the Hispanic community and only recently have we started to see modest gains and improvements in the education of our children. Now with budgets being constrained these modest gains will soon be lost.

Take for example the class size increase that is being proposed by school districts and the legislature. The intent of the state, in funding class size reduction, was to create an atmosphere of more individualized attention for each student allowing teachers the extra time needed to teach the marginalized students (read Hispanic students here) core subjects such as reading. With increased class sizes teachers will invariably spend more time managing the classroom, teaching to the average student and not having the time to address the needs of the slower learner nor the above average leaner. This means for the Second Language Learner (bilingual education has been all but eliminated) they will not get the attention or support they are presently receiving, and it has been proven that if by the third grade you are not reading at grade level that student will never catch up.

Support services and personnel such as Liberians, nurses, school psychologist, English language support services, drop out prevention programs, teen pregency programs, tutoring programs all may be sacrificed to balance the state’s budget crises.

The state and local school districts have made strides in improving the educational opportunities for our youth, particular attention has been focused on the Hispanic population and recognition of the necessity of their education has grown. But with school budgets being slashed this attention will turn to the core basic elements of education, turning back the clock. The Hispanic community will be set back to the pre-‘90s era.

Now is the time for our state legislatures to step up to the plate and keep the dream alive for our children. Keep school funding at a level that allows the individual districts the opportunity to maintain the gains made. To do less would be tantamount to the state legislatures turning their back on the Hispanic community.

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