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Letter to Hispanic Leaders Regarding Educational Opportunity

immigration_protestI had an argument the other day with an Hispanic school administrator and I made the statement that seventy-percent of your students were failing to get a good education, and he jumped up happily to call me on my error. He said, “no, it’s only fifty percent.”

In my recent communications and in my writing on the educational performance of young people from your community over the last two years, I have made the claim that your leadership and the values and actions of the parents and children in your community are largely responsible for the massive under achievement evidenced everywhere your students migrate to in this country.

I’ve called attention to the bad policy choices of urban school administrators as well as the awful curriculum and teaching practices adopted by some teachers who are trying to keep their civil service jobs in a political climate which makes serious teaching unlikely except in magnet programs.

I had hoped to stir debate about the causes of under-achievement but what I got instead was harassment at work and punishment through the legal system which has raised questions in my mind about the commitment of your community to our tradition of free speech and open debate. It seemed at least on the east side of Houston, authorities with brown skin sought to nullify certain standard rights protections afforded Americans generally.

I believe completely and with my whole heart in the potential of Hispanic students to learn and progress at the rate of students from any other race or background. I do not believe in any genetic or racial differences in base intelligence between the masses of drop-outs from your community and the suburban white kids who are graduating with skills and going on to college.

I share your commitment to civil rights. I led the fight at Ole Miss against the Confederate Flag when I was twenty-two years old and before I reached the age of thirty I founded the Mississippi Alliance of State Employees, a minority-led union of low-paid state employees. I have a commitment at least as strong as your own to minority empowerment and multiculturalism.

While I hate racism with every fiber of my being, I have emerged and probably will continue to be a cultural critic of the Mexican and Central American community. I have worked with a lot of you and I have found too much hard-headedness and a reluctance to admit simple facts and a prideful rejection of acknowledging the reality that the adults of your community are misleading many of its young people. There is an absolute lack of practicality in many of your efforts to change the downward trajectory of human capital in our cities largely due to your influence.

The best of your own people are fleeing the politically-managed schools you have created and sustained, and they are going into charter schools managed by persons of other races. In a sense, these good, responsible parents have had to flee Mexico twice, once by crossing our borders and the second time running from the replication of that sort of politics over our schools.

I speak straight with you, and I do not mince words, because I have seen the behavior of your administrators in our schools, and I have seen great young teachers of your ethnicity go into the system and be seduced by the politics at the long run expense of students under their charge. Your best go in, get pushed up the ladder by virtue of politics and ethnicity, and they become as jaded as you are.

I am just as hard-headed as you are. I grew up poor, my family was as poor or poorer as your families and I am apparently more committed to the long-term development of your youth than you are because you put pride and money and politics and relations within the small elite before the working-class students of your community. I am tempted to say you are parasites in some cases of your own people, but that may be too harsh.

Most of the Hispanic administrators I have met are obsessed by politics and their relations with other administrators and they can put on a good show but they are absolutely not innovative when it comes to moving their youth forward. I could name names, it’s a long list, since I worked in central administration at HISD before I became a teacher, but you are some of the laziest, good-for-nothing self-serving bullshit artists I have ever met. I’ve met a few exceptions, Richard Vasquez being the main one, but even they will do whatever dirty work their bosses tell them to.

Now, I am a nice guy. I don’t like meanness in people. But to be mean and ineffective and well paid, that describes a lot of your people high up in the school administration offices, that takes some talent, but unfortunately that sort of talent does not advance the cause of your youth.

Having been an early and ardent fan of the Dream Act, I have pulled back from my generally positive view of generous immigration policies because I have come to believe that any institutions and government agencies and schools managed by your people is a lost cause in terms of getting anything done. Now, if you want to have lunch and talk and bullshit and rub shoulders and go on about comadres and copadres and all that, you are great, and you dress nice and make yourselves presentable but you cannot educate your own children, and in terms of cheating you run amok. You run amok. And many of you do not have a strong internalized value system to show that it’s wrong to involve kids in cheating. Teaching them to cheat is an awful, awful thing and we do not need neighbors like that.

Your administrators have chosen the absolute worst strategies to get the best work out of your kids, and it’s tempting to think maybe you don’t want, or don’t believe in, upward mobility. You refuse to place any demands on students outside magnet programs. You place demands on your own children at home but not on the working-class kids under your charge. You are more selfish than the redneck administrators at my old school who believed in one standard for all kids. In sixteen years of teaching at the largest Hispanic-majority high school in Texas, I never had an Hispanic administrator ask me to make sure students learn more. All the pressure was in the other direction, which fits with standard operating procedures in all Hispanic nations which have great levels of permanent class stratification.

Your children are in safer hands at KIPP or YES Prep than they are under your care. These Jewish-led organizations have created sunlight amidst the educational dark night you have perpetuated. I am a backer of public schools, and the whole charter school movement has bugged me some, but so long as you run the public schools, they are not going to work well. The public schools are not the problem. Your leadership of them is driving people away.

So, in taking a more defined, skeptical view towards illegal immigration, I want to make perfectly clear, I am less concerned about the actual illegal aliens, and I am more pessimistic about the nature of your selfish, con-man, and corrupt approach to leadership and public policy. To the extent we keep the majority of these people, and I don’t think we should keep them if they are failing to adapt to our culture, we are expanding the typical Hispanic way of managing a society from Mexico City and Guatemala City and Managua and Tegucigalpa into our southwestern communities, and that must be stopped at all cost.

You are worse than the illegals, but keeping the illegals here gives you power, so we have to protect the character of our communities, and character, as I have argued, is your number one problem. You have bad character. And you know it. And I’ve been around lots when you have laughed about it. And I don’t think character is a laughing matter because we don’t live by bread alone.

I was born a Protestant and we believe in personal transformation and the only way your community can improve is if your leaders get down on your knees and reflect on the nature of your jaded leadership and ask God to help you be better people so you can help the young people under your tutelage. This is the only hope for your community: that you go through personal transformations and that you come out on the other end as honest, passionate and moderately idealistic people.

Now I want you to do some real research, I want you to study closely the actual dropout rates in the high schools you run, and look at the standardized test scores of your students and factor in the cheating you have initiated or that you know has happened and you did not report, and you think about that, and you feel something, I want you to reflect with your hearts the nature and consequences of your leadership and to do this you can’t pass the buck, you can’t say, as you might do if you came from an authoritarian culture, “well, that’s what I was told to do,” you have to accept personal responsibility. And if you do take all this in, you will feel shame at the extent you have betrayed, or at least, the extent you have not done your best, for the young people you praise with your words and then you need to acknowledge it to yourself and cry, even if you must cry privately. Because your people need to cry more and laugh less because crying is a cleansing emotion and the only way you can put bad habits from the past, and that’s your problem, is to go through a self-cleansing process.

For the rest of us, the majority of our multicultural society, we cannot put faith in the possibility you will undergo the reflection and inner turmoil of personal transformations, so we must bet on the current status quo of your community continuing into the future, with massive educational under achievement and the best of your own people fleeing your schools, and your own continued selfishness and misguided narcissism and rampant corruption and that’s why only a behavior based immigration policy makes any sense so long as Hispanics of Mexican and Central American origin are the main immigrant groups under consideration.

I will conclude by drawing attention to the Civil Rights Movement, and I grew up in its latter years in Mississippi and even though change was forced on us, we improved morally, economically and educationally as a result. Given the history of your people in more than twenty nations, it’s clear you need similar pressure on you so all the people of your community can share in the American Dream not just a selfish few who ride the backs of the others.

Written by and submitted to the Federal Observer for publication on July 26, 2013, by the author, Jesse Alred. Mr Alred is author of “A Personal Narrative and Analysis of How Hispanic Immigration Has Had a Detrimental Impact on Urban Public Schools.”

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