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May 30, 2008

News Article: Wisconsin / Test scores show little change over 3 years

State superintendent encouraged by results
By Scott Bauer
Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 05/29/2008 10:08:53 PM CDT

Wisconsin school children scored about the same on statewide tests in reading and math this year.
Results slated for release today showed that reading scores for elementary, middle and high school students all remained unchanged this year over last year. Math scores increased one point in the elementary grades, dropped one point in middle grades and dropped two points in 10th grade.

However, when looking at the three-year trend, math scores were up for elementary and middle school students and down in 10th grade. Reading scores were constant over the three years.
About 434,000 Wisconsin students in grades 3-8 and 10 took the statewide Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examinations. Results of the test are used to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind law and will be the basis of determining whether schools are progressing as required.

State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster was encouraged by the results, saying there are some positive trends but that the focus must remain on closing achievement gaps.

While the gap between minority students and whites narrowed in many groups over the past three years, it still remains significant.

When looking at all students tested in math, 82 percent of whites this year were proficient or advanced on the tests. That compared with just 74 percent of Asian students, 62 percent of American Indians, 56 percent of Hispanics and 40 percent of blacks.

However, all of those minority groups narrowed the gap between their scores and white students from three years ago.

This year, in reading, 88 percent of whites were proficient or advanced. Asians were next at 74 percent, followed by American Indians at 73 percent, Hispanics at 65 percent and blacks at 56 percent.

Asian and Hispanic students narrowed the achievement gap over the past three years. It was unchanged for black students and slightly greater for American Indians.

Those groups experiencing an achievement gap also had higher rates of poor students. Thirty-three percent of Wisconsin students tested are poor enough to qualify for free and reduced-price lunch.

Black students had the highest percentage of impoverished students at 76 percent followed by Hispanics at 73 percent, American Indians at 61 percent, Asians at 55 percent and whites at 22 percent.
Poverty works against students scoring well on tests, Burmaster said.

"Improving achievement in our schools requires shared responsibility among teachers and families as well as business and elected leaders to create communities that support academic achievement," she said.
Online: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction: www.dpi.wi.gov/sig

May 29, 2008

Press Release: Congressman Keith Ellison (MN-5) & Congresswoman Hilda Solis (CA-32) to host Hispanic Community Health Care Forum in Minneapolis

Ellison to host Hispanic Community Health Care Forum

With Special Guest

Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis (D-CA)

Chair, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Task Force on Health and Environment

Member, Subcommittee on Health – Energy and Commerce Committee

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minneapolis) will host a Hispanic Community Health Care Forum with Special Guest, Congresswoman Hilda Solis on Monday, June 2, 2008 from 6-8 P.M. at the Allina Commons, Midtown Exchange (Minnesota Room)

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are now more than 47 Million Americans without health insurance – up 2 Million from last year – with children making up more than a quarter of the increase.

Minnesotans are known as some of the healthiest Americans, yet even here 8.5% of our population lives without a health care safety net – that’s almost 440,000 – and the numbers are increasing. That’s 440,000 too many!

And, unfortunately, the Minnesota Department of Health indicates that despite the overall health status of the state, communities of color (African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics) and American Indians continue to experience poorer health and disproportionately higher rates of illness and death.

In particular, Latinos/Hispanics are less likely to have health insurance; children are less likely to be immunized; youth are more likely to be victims of violence; as a population experience higher rates of AIDS/HIV; and individuals are more likely to die from diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

ü Thirty-six percent of Hispanics are uninsured, compared with 22% of African Americans, 17% of Asian/Pacific Islanders and 13% of Whites, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s most recent analysis of census data.

ü According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the Latino teen birth rate for the state is higher than all other racial ethnic groups for both Minnesota and U.S. teen births. In 2004, (per 1000 females age 15-19 years old) 11.5% Hispanic/Latino teens gave birth, compared to 1.7% Whites.

ü The growing burden of diabetes affects everyone in Minnesota, but disproportionately affects People of Color and American Indians who die younger from diabetes. Approximately 30% of Hispanic/Latino American diabetes deaths occur before age 65, compared to 17% among non-Hispanic Whites.

ü The 1998 Minnesota Student Survey indicates that the percent of Latina girls who have ever attempted suicide is 19.9% -- (6th, 9th and 12th graders) considerably higher than White girls (11.9%).

We can and we must do better! We start with awareness and prevention. Join us at this Hispanic Health Care Forum towards a healthier, more involved and informed dialogue for our children and families.

WHAT: Hispanic Community Health Care Forum

WHO: Congressman Keith Ellison

Congresswoman Hilda Solis, Chair, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Task Force on Health and Environment; Member, Subcommittee on Health – Energy and Commerce Committee

WHEN: Monday, June 2, 2008 – 6-8 P.M.

WHERE: Allina Commons, Midtown Exchange (Minnesota Room) 2925 Chicago Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55407

Informative Health Care Fair Participants (in formation) Invited:

· American Cancer Society – Health Disparities Office

· Hennepin County Veterans Services

· Minnesota Department of Health – Office of Minority & Multicultural Health

· Minnesota Breast Cancer Coalition


Eden Torres: Politics of Friendship

The way that political candidates have suddenly become the Hispanic voter’s best friend while also decrying the lack of controls over undocumented immigration reminds me of the irony and earnestness contained in the US Good Neighbor Policy of 1933-1945. While politicians embarked on a public relations campaign to promote an official government policy of friendliness and partnership with our neighbors in Latin America, anti-immigrant hostility toward Mexicans was at a fever pitch in large cities around the nation. It became especially violent in Los Angeles during the WWII and culminated in what would become known in the popular press as the “Zoot Suit Riots.? Many scholars, however, have come to characterize these incidents as the wholesale beating of Mexican American youth by white military personnel coupled with the spectacular denial of equal protection and due process under the justice system. But the fact that these two things–an official policy of friendship and violent anti-immigrant hostility–existed simultaneously in our history is important to note. Surely there are lessons to be gleaned from looking at such patterns.

Of course the Good Neighbor Policy was conceived of as a way of bringing Latin American countries under US control without using military means to do so. It was a philosophical venture ostensibly created to promote democracy. It’s real purpose though was to preserve US economic dominance and the agricultural-export model of development. Though the US was reluctant to send in its own forces whenever someone rebelled, it was not above supporting corrupt and morally reprehensible leaders, armies and police forces throughout Latin America to maintain business interests. This strategy has had a history of enriching the lives of select Latin Americans while forcing the majority into starvation and migration. (In that way it resembles other equally predatory policies like it, including NAFTA and CAFTA.)

Despite the ultimate nightmare of this policy, something President Franklin D. Roosevelt said during his inaugural address as he ushered in the policy still makes sense, and should be repeated. “I would dedicate this nation to the policy of the good neighbor–the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others.?

What would the US attitude toward Mexicans immigrants (whatever their status) be if we thought of them as our neighbors, as people connected to us who have the same rights that we expect for ourselves? At a bare minimum, wouldn’t we make more of effort to understand why they are leaving their homes? Wouldn’t we be sympathetic to their need and try to help them either live a more comfortable existence in their own “homes? or at least make them comfortable in ours? Don’t we respect ourselves enough to afford people that dignity?
It seems so little to ask that all human beings should have the right to shelter, food, and clothing. Universal human rights accords also include such things as the freedom of religion, the right to a fair trial, and the right not to be tortured. I might add the right to a job, medical care and education. I suppose that one of the reasons some people in the US will continue to view Mexican migrants with hostility is because they’ve become convinced that a Mexican presence somehow detracts from the life they feel they’ve been promised as US citizens–a life that has too often eluded them. They fail to realize that the same forces that keep this promised life out of reach for many US citizens are also pushing immigrants from their homes and propelling them into the US–outsourcing, anti-unionism, predatory banking practices, global corporations with no loyalty to any nation and seemingly no conscience about how much local destruction occurs in the creation of obscene wealth for the few at the top.

When I hear no less than Dwight D. Eisenhower–an army general and a Republican president–warning the American people about the dangers of the “military industrial complex,? and realize that his greatest fears have come true in our lifetimes, it seems clear that our way out of this mess must be one without allegiances to or rejection of any one political party. It also seems clear that Mexicans, undocumented or otherwise, are not to blame for our current economic situation and the failures of the American Dream for so many people. Antonio Portia, a Brazilian writer, once said, “if you do not look up, you will think that you are the highest point.? Looking down on Mexicans from a position of superiority might convince you that you are indeed, superior. But if you raise your eyes, you might begin to understand that from the highest point you actually look a lot like those people who are coming across the border just to survive–a lot more like their neighbors than you are to CEO’s making millions and literally controlling the globe.

Eden Torres is the chair of the Department of Chicano Studies at the University of Minnesota.

May 28, 2008

News Article: (LA Times) New generation of L.A.-area Latino leaders aren't as friendly toward 'amigo stores'

Cities like Baldwin Park are turning away from ethnic-oriented retail projects in favor of mainstream businesses. Starbucks is welcome.
By Hector Becerra
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 28, 2008


It was as if the developers were talking about tacos, and the Latino politicians were talking about apple pie.

Baldwin Park Mayor Manuel Lozano and other city officials listened as the developers said they had studied the demographics of the city and could bring in a retailer known for offering credit to undocumented immigrants and a shopping center with a "Latino feel."

To Lozano, it was another case of developers typecasting his suburb, which is about 15 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. He didn't want to see more of what he calls "amigo stores."

The meeting ended like a bad date, with handshakes and excessive courtesy. But afterward, Lozano made it clear he was not happy.

"We want what Middle America has as well," said the second-generation Mexican American, recounting the meeting. "We like to go to nice places like Claim Jumpers, Chili's and Applebee's. . . . We don't want the fly-by-night business, the 'amigo store,' which they use to attract Latinos like myself."

Call it "immigrant" store fatigue. It's happening in cities that are overwhelmingly Latino, with Latino political leaders and with large immigrant communities.

For decades, these cities attracted working-class and immigrant-centric retailers: check-cashing businesses, Latino supermarkets, discount gift stores, bridal shops and Mexican western wear stores. Some are independent, and some are chains such as La Curacao, an appliance and electronics retailer that offers credit accounts to immigrants who lack the documentation for conventional credit cards.

Until relatively recently, cities like Baldwin Park, South Gate and Santa Ana had few options beyond "Latino" retailers. But this year, Baldwin Park -- a city of 70,000 in the San Gabriel Valley -- enacted a moratorium on new payday loan and check cashing stores. The city is now partners with Bisno Development Co. on an "urban village" of mixed-income housing, theaters and mainstream restaurants such as Claim Jumper, Applebee's and Chili's.

To make it happen, the city is considering a plan that could require the use of eminent domain power to clear a 125-acre area.

That would result in the loss of more than 80 homes and more than 100 small businesses.

The huge project has prompted charges that the City Council, composed of Mexican Americans, is ashamed of its culture.

"I'm proud of my roots," said Rosalva Alvarez, as she stood in her beauty store on Maine Avenue, which is in the redevelopment area. "I was born in Mexico and raised in this country. I agree we need some change. But what they want to bring here is totally unrealistic. Applebee is good, but a Kabuki? And also a Trader Joe's? Come on, I don't even go to Trader Joe's."

Some opponents say that one councilwoman had told critics to "go back to [Tijuana]."

"I don't know where they got that," said Councilwoman Marlen Garcia. "What I said was 'We're striving to insure Baldwin Park doesn't look like Tijuana.' "

As he wiped down the counter of his Via-Mar Family Restaurant, Mexican immigrant Audon Diaz, 36, wonders if one day he might be pushed out too. It took him eight years just to get established, often having to repair the busted street lamps in the parking lot himself.

"It's like they want Baldwin Park in the style of Capistrano or like Hacienda Heights," Diaz said. "The restaurant industry is pretty hard to make it in. Eight years, and I'm barely hanging on. It's like the city wants to make it hard for you."

But Mayor Lozano is undaunted.

As he rode through the streets of his city, past the rows of low-slung mini malls with signs in a mix of English and Spanish, Lozano complained that downtown Baldwin Park had too many discount gift stores, too many beauty salons, too many Mexican restaurants and way too many pawnshops.

Lozano and his allies believe that mainstream retailers now fit better with Baldwin Park, where many of the residents are second-, third- and even fourth-generation Latinos with little interest in stores aimed at immigrants.

Now that the city has choices, he said, it should send a clear message to "amigo store" promoters, like those who introduce themselves with business cards decorated with the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

"They're pitching their 'Latino' type agenda," Lozano said.

Anthony Bejarano, a Baldwin Park councilman and graduate of Georgetown University law school, is a fourth-generation Mexican American who says he speaks "very little Spanish."

He said that the proliferation of what the mayor calls "amigo stores" forces him to go to other cities to shop.

"I love to go to traditional Mexican restaurants. I shop at Vallarta [supermarket], but I can't get everything I need," he said. "At the end of the day, it's all Mexican restaurants here. When we want Italian, when we want sushi, where do we go? If I want a pair of Kenneth Coles, I have to go to Arcadia."

Cities like Baldwin Park and Santa Ana used to struggle to get national retailers. Some residents tried letter-writing campaigns to lure Starbucks and others.

The response by many retailers was often "This is not our customer," said Luis Valenzuela, executive vice president for NAI Capital, a commercial real estate brokerage firm. "The difference now is that corporate America has realized there's tremendous buying power in these communities."

Valenzuela, who worked on Lynwood's popular Plaza Mexico, cites the El Paseo shopping center in South Gate as a turning point.

The sprawling center opened about a decade ago near the 710 Freeway.

The Edwards theater there was the first to be opened in a city that was not only majority Latino but also largely Spanish-speaking, he said.

And after the Starbucks opened in South Gate, it became one of the chain's leading seller of Frappuccinos, Valenzuela said.

"You had some mainstream stores who really took a risk, for the first time really going into a predominantly Spanish-speaking area," Valenzuela said.

"After that, you really saw Ross, Marshall, Applebee's, Chili's and a lot of those businesses in Latino areas," he said.

Although the South Gate shopping center, which does include a La Curacao and other ethnic businesses, is considered a success story by many, change has at times been rocky in Santa Ana.

There, the all-Latino City Council has sought to transform downtown.

They contend that there is an over-concentration of immigrant-focused Mexican western wear, discount gift, notary public and especially bridal stores along historic 4th Street.

As he stood amid Stetson hats and colorful leather boots made of ostrich and stingray at his Mexican western wear store, Ray Rangel, 78, said it seemed as if City Hall was trying to winnow away 4th Street's immigrant customer base with downtown plans that included higher-end housing.

"I'll tell you one thing about the City Council," he said. "Before, when the council was more mixed, we could get along with them. Now that they're all Hispanics, we have more trouble getting things. They want the upscale, something more Anglo."

Santa Ana Councilwoman Michele Martinez said a lack of cultural pride was not the issue; it's just that not all Latinos are immigrants.

"I have nothing against 50 quinceañera shops, but I don't shop there. Many of my friends don't shop there," said Martinez, a fourth-generation Mexican American. "Parents and grandparents may shop there, but young kids are not going to shop there, unless they're immigrants."

The debate has resulted in some testy exchanges.

Sam Romero, 73, owner of St. Teresa's Catholic Gift Shop on 4th Street, said he once cracked to a local paper that one local politician "broke every glass and mirror in the house so he wouldn't have to see a Mexican."

On a recent day, Carol Castillo, 31, an immigrant from Mexico, stood in her family-owned Marlen's Bridal Shop.

She said she was aware that the bridal shops, which also sell dresses for quinceañera coming-of-age celebrations, were used as an example by City Hall.

Three other bridal shops are directly across the street, and there's one next door.

"It's a fact, they want us out of here," Castillo said. "There's a lot of chatter going on. The people pushing this, most of them are Latinos, unfortunately."

Martinez said the city was not looking to push anyone out. She said a compromise could be reached to keep 4th Street a "Latino district" while developing around it.

Like Santa Ana, Baldwin Park is divided between immigrants and the U.S.-born.

Councilwoman Marlen Garcia, said she was tired of pining for the Islands, Chevy's and Jamba Juices of neighboring West Covina.

She still remembers the doomed pitch by the developers who wanted to bring in immigrant-focused stores.

"As soon as they said 'La Curacao,' I said, 'That's it,' " Garcia said. "We're not against our culture, nothing like that. But we want something that speaks to every culture."


Steven Renderos: Response to Star Tribune Article

Dear Nancy & Jean,

My name is Steven Renderos, I work in the Department of Chicano Studies at University of Minnesota with the Minnesotano Media Empowerment Project. The mission of the project is to improve the quality and quantity of media coverage on Latinos in Minnesota.

I am writing in regards to an immigration article the Star Tribune ran on May 25 titled "On Immigration, bluster but little action." written by Jean Hopfensperger. http://www.startribune.com/local/19236514.html?page=2&c=y

As a media consumer, I'm concerned with the continued usage of the term "illegal immigrant". Media is grounded on the principal that people have a right to fair and neutral information regarding issues of importance to their everyday life. Immigration, has consistently been a hot-button issue for over a decade and encompassed within that debate has been the media's, and in this case the Star Tribune's, usage of the term "illegal immigrant".
In 1994, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Asian American Journalists Association, Native American Journalists Association and National Association of Black Journalists issued a joint statement calling for media outlets to change its internal editorial policy regarding this term.

In June 2006, Minnesota Public Radio hosted a public forum to discuss the issue with local journalists and members of the community and some media outlets came left that public forum and ended up changing their position.
Thom Fladung, editor in chief at the Pioneer Press was quoted in a recent article published in La Prensa de Minnesota, saying that they use the term "illegal immigrant" because it's clear and accurate. I have to disagree. It is clear that there is a lot of disagreement over the use of the term even within varying media outlets. Almanac at TPT has a policy not to use the term in its scripts. So do Kare 11, the MN Daily, and both Latino newspapers La Prensa and La Gente de Minnesota.
It is inaccurate because it criminalizes the individual and not the action they are purported to have committed. Furthermore, the term describes individuals who have crossed into the United States without proper documentation, when in fact over 40 percent of undocumented immigrants are people who have fallen out of status due to their visa expiring. It also presents the argument in a "black & white" scenario, assuming that the process to Legal immigration is a valid option. The truth is, it's not, it's a broken system that is failing to meet our country's labor needs, and is unattainable by the same people being criminalized through the use of "illegal immigrant".

I've been taught that as a journalist you want to expose wrongdoing and the misuse of power. Media plays the role of publicly engaging everyday people in a debate and through the use of terms and arguments can convey its possible solutions. When the issue of immigration is framed as an "illegal vs. legal" argument then the only solution becomes enforcement. While I personally don't believe this is a viable option, in 2006, the Department of Homeland security identified 1.2 million "deportable aliens". Even though the number of foreign born individuals has risen to over 11 million, the number of "deportable aliens" is not higher than relevant statistics from the 70s and 80s. It seems the current approach is ineffective in achieving resolution to this issue.

Lastly, I would point out that I, as a citizen of the United States, find the term offensive. It inaccurately describes a certain sector of the Latino community, but also for everyday Minnesotans, it inaccurately shapes their perceptions of not only immigrants but all Latinos.

I would strongly encourage you to reconsider your editorial policy in regards to the use of the term "illegal immigrant" and perhaps you may also want to consider hosting a discussion with members of the Latino community regarding this issue. If this is of any interest, the Media Empowerment Project in the Department of Chicano Studies would be willing to help organize such an event. I appreciate your time and please feel free to call or email if you feel the need for further discussion. Thank you.

Steven Renderos, Media Project Coordinator
Minnesotano Media Empowerment Project
Department of Chicano Studies, University of Minnesota
(612) 626-5357