As more and more Latinos succeed in school, it’s important to recognize the long road it took for them to get there. Graduation rates and test scores for Latinos are the highest they’ve ever been, and more Latinos are entering college. And while there are outdated systems that keep many of our children from having the tools to succeed, we’ve come a long way since 1954, when the Supreme Court decided that segregating schools is un-American. Still, 63 years later, schools are experiencing the effects of those systems.
On this day in 1954, the Supreme Court delivered a landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, ordering the desegregation of our nation’s public schools. While segregation in schools doesn’t exist in the same context as it did then, it continues to be an issue. Last year, a Government Accountability Office report showed a sharp increase over the last decade in what they classify as isolated schools, where more than three-quarters of the student population is of the same race/ethnicity. Interestingly, this isolation is happening most in some of our country’s most diverse states and cities. In states like California, Texas, and New York, more than half of their Latino students attend schools that are more than 90% Latino.
We’re proud to share a copy of the 2016 NCLR Annual Report with you.
Although much of this past year was dominated by a political landscape that often demonized and targeted our community, NCLR and our national network of affiliated community-based organizations achieved significant victories for Latino families.
Read the 2016 NCLR Annual Report.
Week Ending May 12
Texas’ S.B. 4 is a License to Discriminate: This past Sunday in the shadow of night, Governor Greg Abbott of Texas signed into law SB4 which would go into effect in September. The legislation, opposed by a host of police chiefs from all over Texas, calls on law enforcement to inquire about immigration status in traffic stops and other interactions, allows police officers to question children about immigration status, and mandates fines and jail time for elected officials and law enforcement who fail to comply with the discriminatory law, even though it may make them complicit in violating constitutional safeguards. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it has the spirit of previous racial profiling bills passed in Alabama, Arizona and other states where taxpayers bore the burden of litigation. NCLR joined the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ), Mi Familia Vota, the Human Rights Campaign, and the National Urban League (NUL) in a press conference denouncing the legislation. Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR, said, “Gov. Abbott’s action is reckless and irresponsible. S.B.4 represents a false promise to those looking for real solutions on immigration. Rather than solving anything, this deeply troubling and unconstitutional legislation will jeopardize the civil rights of millions of Texans, nearly half of whom are Hispanic, and undermine public safety in communities across the state. As an organization that works to protect and defend America’s Latino community and uphold the core values of this nation, NCLR condemns this new law and others like it, and the bigotry and intolerance they represent.”
Last week, while press attention was heavily focused on passage of House legislation to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, Latino and pro-immigration advocates won an almost unnoticed, but nevertheless important, victory. President Trump signed a $1.1 trillion spending deal to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year that, according to Bloomberg News, “largely tracks Democratic priorities and rejects most of [President Trump’s] wish list, including funds for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.” The bill, H.R. 244, was required because Congress previously only appropriated enough funding for half of the 2017 fiscal year.
In mid-March, the White House formally requested an additional $30 billion in defense spending and more than $3 billion for the wall and other immigration enforcement. The Trump administration further asked Congress to cut $18 billion in funds for domestic programs to partially offset these increases. Separately, the administration also urged Congress to eliminate funding for so-called “sanctuary cities” that refuse to cooperate with his mass deportation scheme. With a single political party controlling both houses of Congress and the White House, one might’ve assumed that the president’s priorities would sail through the legislative process. Early on, Democratic negotiators made clear they would fight funding for the wall, seeking to beat back one of the president’s signature issues.
Yesenia Chavez Medina with her 4-year old son, Miguel Angel, ready for his dental check-up at one of Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo’s dental clinics.
Yesenia Chavez Medina had just moved to Westmorland, Calif. when she attended a presentation on children’s oral health led by two community health workers (CHWs) from Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo (CDSDP)—a Federally Qualified Migrant Health Center in Brawley, Calif. Supported by Red Nose Day Fund in 2016, the health center is part of the National Council of La Raza’s Healthy and Ready for the Future initiative which provides a healthy start in oral health and early education for Latino children from migrant and seasonal farmworker families across rural America.
While the CHWs, Cecilia Cota and Ana Solorio, discussed the importance of taking care of children’s oral health, the message struck Yesenia to her core. She considered herself a responsible mom, diligent about her children having health insurance through Medi-Cal and a stable family life despite having to move around as a migrant farmworker. Yet, she realized she had neglected their teeth. She feared her youngest sons, Miguel Angel, 4, and Jose Luis, 11, had cavities because they “sometimes complained of pain in their mouth or had what looked like rotting teeth.” Yesenia spoke with Cecilia and Ana, who helped schedule appointments.