More on the new face of Texas

In a welltimed story in the Houston Chronicle over the weekend, Austinbased reporter Gary Scharrer offered a good look at the changing, evermoreHispanic face of Texas’ public school classrooms.

I say “welltimed” because this is the week the State Board of Education, most of whose members like to believe Texas’ schools are as Anglo as they were 40 or 50 years ago, comes back to Austin to wreak more havoc on the social studies curriculum. Unfortunately, however, Scharrer’s story won’t have much impact on them because their narrow minds already are made up. They moved to largely deny Hispanics’ role in Texas history during the board meeting in March and aren’t likely to give any more attention to Texas’ new, emerging majority now.

But for those of us who appreciate wellresearched facts more than ideological delusions,
the story paints an important picture of our public education system and the legitimate challenges facing educators and policymakers.

You can read the entire story by clicking on the link below, but here are a few highlights:

• Hispanic children now make up almost 49 percent of Texas’ 4.8 million students in preK through 12th grade. About onethird of the students are Anglo.
• Some 349 school districts are now majority Hispanic. This is 18 more than last year and 104 more than in 2000.
• Texas has 670 Anglo majority districts, 97 fewer than a decade ago.
• Much of the Hispanic growth is in the suburbs.
• Hispanic families vary widely in income, education and length of residency in the United States. But many Hispanic students are poor, have limited English proficiency and are high dropout risks.

People can scream all they want about immigrants and immigration policy. But the facts are the facts. This is the new face of Texas, a face that offers promise but also requires a greater investment of state funds for bilingual education and other educational programs. State leaders can pony up now for the future, or they can continue to stick their heads in the sand and make the future even more difficult to prepare for tomorrow.


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