Monday, August 23, 2010

Response to the attacks on the 14th Amendment

Response to the attacks on the 14th Amendment
By The National Latino Children's Institute

San Antonio, Texas - For more than 500 years, the people of this nation, except those of Native American descent, have been immigrants.  The "founding fathers" were all from immigrant families.  Additionally, Hispanics have been a part of this land since before the founding of Jamestown or Plymouth Rock.  In recent weeks, in a strange turnaround, the descendents of immigrants - i.e. those who are not of Native American ancestry-are now engaging and condemning the newest of its citizens - the children of immigrants born in the United States. According to the Pew Hispanic Center in their recent report, Unauthorized Immigrants and Their U.S.-Born Children, there are "5.1 million children born of immigrant parents, of which 4 million are U.S. Citizens."

Our founding fathers established this fundamental protection (citizenship) meant to immediately attach at birth.  In shedding a cast system, they recognized the inherent belief that the sins, burdens or limitations of the parents should not indelibly attach to the descendants; children have an independent right to improve themselves.  This has imbued our country with a constructive way to allow for opportunity, based not on background, but on what is done with what one has through hard work.  Such core values should not be shed in a futile effort, given the appropriately high burden that must be met to change the constitution.  What this effort clearly constitutes is political drama or theater simply for election purposes rather than constructive action which has been and is a characteristic of this nation at its best.  This is a country that stands on equality for all-not on equality for some.

The National Latino Children's Institute (NLCI) believes that all children born in the United States have a right to citizenship and are under the protection of the U.S. Constitution.  They are an integral part of this country's life and its future.  The National Latino Children's Institute will work hard to safeguard and protect children's citizenship rights.  As stated by U.S. Congressman José E. Serrano on the Latinovations blog dated August 13, 2010 (16th District of New York), "...We cannot allow our country to slip further along towards a place where specific ethnic groups are made to feel unwelcome.  We are a nation of immigrants, and a nation that has always supported the rights of children.  Seeking to strip some children of their citizenship is not just wrong, it's un-American.

The immigrant population, specifically Latinos, has an earned history of contributing to this country's development and will continue to do so; and the children are the center and most precious aspect of immigrant communities.  As this county debates the issue of immigration, let us not utilize the children as political fodder to win elections and avoid the real issues of comprehensive immigration reform, job creation, health care and education.  Instead, let us focus this country on solving the issues that impact the safety, rights, education, well-being and protection of all children.

What do we say to the young people who were born in this country to immigrant parents and are right now serving in the armed forces of the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan?

If comprehensive immigration reform is not addressed soon, some members of Congress, - and many citizens - will continue to blame the victim rather than fix the broken system.  "It is not just Latino children but all children born in the U.S. of immigrant parents that will suffer.  This nation will suffer greatly as well - it will no longer be a free nation but a police nation.  It will no longer be a nation that is open to new ideas, but one that is entrenched in one view.  To be fearful of everyone who is different is not a way of life; these are not the principles on which this country was built," said Josie F. Garza, executive director of the National Latino Children's Institute.  NLCI believes that immigration reform is necessary, and that laws must be followed, but it is also imperative that the children of immigrants, all immigrants, not be punished because they were born in this country.

NLCI urges you to contact your U.S. Members of Congress and voice your concerns that the act of changing the 14th amendment will be detrimental to our country.  To use children born of immigrant parents as the basis for denying citizenship to some under our constitution is not acceptable. ¡ya basta! Enough is enough!  Children cannot speak for themselves on this issue, so the National Latino Children's Institute calls on all children's and human rights organizations and individuals to support the right of U.S. born children to their citizenship by raising a united voice on their behalf.  Join NLCI in the fight to support the most vulnerable population-the children-by fighting against changing the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and supporting comprehensive immigration reform.  To sign on go to

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Latino students impacted by ineffective teachers

Latino students impacted by ineffective teachers
By Adrian Perez, Publisher 

LOS ANGELES, CA - The Los Angeles Times ran a story on August 15, 2010, discussing an analysis they conducted together with the Rand Corporation about teacher effectiveness in the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD).  Using a controversial method of assessing the data, their analysis found a correlation between student individual achievement scores and the effectiveness of teachers.  However, what was most disturbing is that the data they looked at is collected by the LAUSD, but not used.

School administrators are in fact “managers” who need to look at their bottom line to assess if their strategies are creating a good return on the investment.  In this case, the investment is the tens of billions of dollars collected annually from taxpayers to educate California’s children.  The return is for those students to become future productive and tax-paying residents of California.  The bottom line is the successful completion of the minimum educational requirements to graduate from high school by all students. 

To assess if the strategies being implemented by the educational system work, the managers are required to collect data, analyze the data, and fix deficiencies upon their discovery.  Apparently, this basic step of managing an education system is failing since the data is not being analyzed.  Why?  These administrators are afraid to create conflicts with the teacher’s union.  The result: a poor education system.

The Times analysis looked at math and English test scores of fifth graders in the LAUSD, which totaled more than 6,000 teachers. It found that students who scored high in math and English, were being taught by teachers who ranked in the top 10 percent of effectiveness.  In fact, student scores were 17 percent higher in English and 25 percent higher in math than those students in classrooms with ineffective teachers.  Isn’t this an important piece of data for an effective administrator to look at?

Another important finding is that 8,000 students landed with ineffective teachers two years in a row, creating a major setback for those students.  Knowing this, the district did nothing about it.

Latinos comprise one out of every two students in the LAUSD, and nearly 40 percent of the state’s population with predictions it will be the state’s majority group in less than 10 years.  What this population shift means is that California’s economic future is dependent on the educational development of Latinos.  Studies by the Public Policy Institute of California agree with this assessment and recommend the state take dramatic action to fix the growing wedge in this segment of the population.  However, inaction of data findings by school districts, like that of the LAUSD, is shortsighted and very harmful to the state.

Perhaps what should be frustrating to state officials and parents alike is the reaction by the LA teacher’s union, which immediately called for a boycott of the Times for running the article.

"You're leading people in a dangerous direction, making it seem like you can judge the quality of a teacher by … a test," A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, which has more than 40,000 members, told the Times.  Tests are designed to assess individual readiness for a diploma or a job.  What other methods can be used, on the job training?

The analysis used by the Times and the Rand Corporation is a “value added” statistical method that compared each student's prior performance to project his or her future test scores, with the difference between the projection and the student's actual performances being the "value" the teacher added or subtracted. They averaged the results over at least 60 students per teacher to ensure statistical reliability.  The Obama administration and numerous education leaders have adopted this statistical method to assess teacher effectiveness and promote education programs and policy changes. 

"Our attorneys are looking into the legalities of this database," Duffy said in the recorded message and as the Times reported. "This is part of the continuing attack on our profession, and we must continue to fight back on all fronts."

Although the State Department of Education recently announced that student test scores have gone up, the state’s national ranking is still in the bottom percentile.  So, instead of worrying if these methodologies for assessing teacher effectiveness are legal, the teachers’ unions should worry about meeting the people’s bottom line of getting the educational system out of the cellar.  It should work toward ensuring its teachers are giving Californians its expected return on the investment.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Latino Congressman sacrificed to get Dems reelected

Latino Congressman sacrificed to get Dems reelected
By Willie Colon, Special to The Perez Factor

Publisher’s Note:  Willie Colon is a Nuyorican international salsa-recording star who also sings, writes, and acts.  His involvement in New York municipal and state politics is well known.

NY Rep. Charlie Rangel
New York, NY - A special ethics subcommittee charged Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) with 13 counts of violating House rules and federal laws, including conduct reflecting discreditably on the chamber.

Congress, amidst the stigma of having an agonizingly low approval rating has decided to offer one of its elders as an appeasement to the Gods of re-election so that they may end this plague of disappointment and skepticism. "Let’s give ‘em Charlie!"

The allegations were outlined in a 40-page report, the product of a two-year probe by an investigative subcommittee of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

Let the pontifications begin!

"The public office is a public trust," said ethics Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), who also leads the adjudicatory panel. "Our task is to determine whether Rep. Rangel’s conduct met that standard."

Rangel will have "violated multiple provisions of House rules and federal statutes."

Let’s look at the egregious crimes Charlie Rangel is accused of:

Rangel is accused of violating House rules by soliciting foundations and corporations with business before the Ways and Means Committee for which he then served as chairman and for soliciting donations to the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York.  Rangel is also alleged to have misused his staff and official House resources for these solicitations. Soliciting funds for a Center for Public Service at a city college bearing his name?  Hmmm…that’s sounds really corrupt doesn’t it?

The evidence in the record, assembled by the Investigative Subcommittee over its nearly two-year investigation, is that Congressman Rangel did not dispense any political favors, that he did not intentionally violate any law, rule or regulation, and that he did not misuse his public office for private gain.

Using an apartment illegally?
The investigative report revealed that while a certain landlord took legal action against other tenants for using their apartments for nonresidential purposes, Rangel was on a "special handling list" because of his status as a Member of Congress and was not sued. Rangel was wrongly allowed to use a rent-stabilized apartment in New York as a campaign office.

With all of the growth, development, opportunities and resources that Charlie Rangel has bought to New York and specifically Harlem, should he now be prosecuted for accepting an apartment from a grateful landlord?  OK, it could be a campaign donation violation; but hardly worthy of 2 years of Congressional Committee proceedings.

What Foreign Real Estate?
There are also allegations that Rangel failed to report rental income from his Dominican Republic villa on both his financial disclosure report and personal taxes.  Rangel is also accused of failing to report $600,000 worth of assets on his annual financial disclosure forms.

Many people have vacation homes.  It sounds like a very nice place but $600k is not the Kennedy Compound or the Playboy Mansion.  So he pays the taxes!  IRS is not going to put him in prison if he pays up.  We hear about people who owe millions who are allowed to make a deal.

Misusing a Parking Space:
Rangel misused a House parking space for long-term vehicle storage.

Oh come on now!  Aren’t we reaching a little on this one?  Oh!  It’s Rangel that Brings Discredit.

"Mr. Rangel may have broken the rules of the House and brought discredit to this body."

During the brief meeting, Members of the adjudicatory panel referred repeatedly to public skepticism toward Congress and a desire to shore up the institution’s reputation.

"We have an obligation to the American people to protect the integrity and credibility of the House," McCaul said. "It is certainly not lost on any member of this subcommittee the approval ratings of this body. … The pressure is even greater to ensure these proceedings are fair, open and conducted in a strictly nonpartisan manner. In the minds of the American people Congress has become completely self-serving and so tone-deaf that Members somehow feel the rules don’t apply to them. We must regain the people’s trust."

None of these allegations are criminal offenses.  After a lifetime of outstanding service that’s all they have?  In corporate America someone with Charlie’s skills will make more in one year than Charlie has made in his whole life.  Moving his car and paying his personal back taxes does NOTHING to change the peoples’ minds about the job congress is doing Sir!

These are not evil deeds.  It’s not like Rangel absconded with funds, was money laundering, got caught taking kickbacks or broke a glass on his girlfriend’s face.

Yes, Charlie is arrogant, sometimes, but he is effective. He is a skilled negotiator who can sit with the most powerful elected officials and businessmen and extract assets for the people of his district and state, which is why the people have kept him there!  You can see where Charlie Rangel’s district begins and ends by the development and the prosperity he has brought to the area, especially when you look at the Bronx where you enter the abyss of "do nothing Jose" Serrano’s district.

In the end, it’s up to the people of his District whether he stays their Congressman. Congress can censure him, sanction him and even expel him; but in the end he will be right back in Washington if the people of District 15 say so. I wouldn’t count Charlie Rangel out just yet.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The GOP's fear of Latinos is harmful to America

The GOP’s fear of Latinos is harmful to America
By John Neri, Special to The Perez Factor

For many of us, it is difficult to understand the fear Republican leaders are demonstrating about the growth in America’s Latino population.  This was predicted a decade ago, yet the GOP is acting as if it is recent news.  So, who is harming America the most, those undocumented contributors to American society or the GOP?

In U.S. Census reports published in 2000, it predicted that the Latino population would grow exponentially based on births and newly arrived undocumented workforce.  This was and has been public knowledge since.  That same report also stated that Latinos in general would continue to make major contributions to the national economy.  It did not predict a drain on American jobs or the reason for the nation’s economic collapse.

Today, preliminary U.S. Census reports show that the undocumented workforce has been and continues to be a positive source of revenue for the U.S. economy.  Moreover, it also shows that they are not the drain on jobs that Americans want.  Instead, they are the saviors of jobs Americans don’t want and wouldn’t take even if it meant getting off the welfare rolls.

Here’s a perfect example.  Earlier this year the United Farm Workers union put out a national call for U.S. citizens to apply for the many farm hand jobs available in California.  Of the millions of unemployed, only three responded, of which only one was actually interested.  The other two were discouraged once they found out the pay was minimum wage, more than 8 hours per day, extreme weather conditions, no benefits, and employment was only seasonal.  But, the UFW did receive many responses, mostly mean spirited and racist comments.  Thank you America for showing your good side.

AZ Gov. Jan Brewer
Then there is Arizona’s ill-conceived law, SB 1070, designed to criminalize all Latinos or anyone who remotely looks Latino, passed by a god-fearing legislature and signed into law by former X-ray technician Governor Jan Brewer.  It didn’t take much for real lawyers to see through this racist gesture disguised as a law and argue for its removal.  The federal judge ruled most of the law to be unenforceable.  But this law, nor its appeals, has taken into account the ailing Arizona economy, the decrease in crime along its border with Mexico, and the continuing dependence of illicit drugs by Americans.  The lesson here:  Elect people who know how to govern, not those who would like to govern.

House Minority Leader J. Boehner
Finally, there’s the issue of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, which Congressman and Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner believes should be revisited.  In his wise and tempered intellectual statement, Mr. Boehner said on Meet the Press that Congress should look into revising the 14th Amendment to address the issue of children born to undocumented contributors of the American society.  What he is suggesting is for the Department of Homeland Security to have field offices in hospitals across America to determine if newborns are related to undocumented workers. 

The 14th Amendment grants almost every child born in the U.S. full citizenship.  Boehner’s statement fell short of suggesting that hospitals hang a sign outside their doors stating LATINOS ARE NOT WELCOME!  So why is such an educated and powerful GOP leader involved with this issue?  Because some gray-haired, old-fashioned, god-fearing, baby boomer felt intimidated that her neighborhood didn’t look anything like it did in the 1950s, and complained.  A GOP candidate for high office heard the complaint and used it to get himself elected.  Other GOP candidates saw the result and immediately adopted the same type of platform to get elected, a typical response for descendants of apes.

Latinos are becoming a very real and huge political base, like it or not.  The more the GOP embraces ill-conceived laws, and continues to make malicious and inaccurate statements about America’s undocumented workforce, the less they will appeal to the Latino voter.  Sure, there will still be some Latinos who will go to the dark-side of the GOP, but those who see there is nothing to gain from this will reject the platforms and move toward the middle, where neither the Left or the Right will enter. 

The GOP is stretching far from its original roots, which will create more division than unification among its ranks.  Unfortunately, it’s America that is being harmed by these old schoolyard strategies and mentalities.

I welcome your opinions.