Exclusive: Has Illegal Immigration’s Effect on Education Become the ‘Third Rail’ of Politics?

by VINCENT GIOIA March 13, 2009
Traditionally, Social Security has been the “third rail” of politics but we now have another third rail – illegal immigration and education. Politicians step all over themselves asking for more and more money to be spent on education; ignoring the fact that money alone does not make for a good public education. Another thing we are not allowed to mention in a discussion about public education quality and costs is the impact of illegal immigration; otherwise we are labeled “racists.”
 
The United States has the world's most generous illegal immigration agenda. For immigrants, California is their primary destination. And keeping our border with Mexico open allows an unlimited number of illegal aliens access to education and medical care. Partially because of illegal immigration, California has an astronomical $42-44 billion deficit. As a consequence, many school districts are laying off teachers and other school personnel.
 
Stated another way, the failure to pay attention to the obvious affect illegal immigration has on California's social services means that some of your children's teachers in California will soon be unemployed.
 
In 2004 the Center for Immigration Studies released a report The High Cost of Cheap Labor: Illegal Immigration and the Federal Budget. The full report is available on their website. Here is an excerpt from the report:
 
It must be remembered that, for the most part, illegal households using programs like free school lunch or Medicaid are receiving these benefits on behalf of U.S.-born children, who under current law are awarded citizenship at birth. Of course, the costs of providing services to these children are very real for taxpayers and result from illegals having been allowed to enter and stay in the country. And having the federal government feed or provide medical care to their children is an enormous benefit to illegal aliens. Thus, in considering the consequences for public coffers, counting the costs of these programs is necessary; otherwise one would gain a very false sense of illegal immigration's present costs.
 
Since many politicians consider illegal immigration and effect on education to be still another "third rail" in politics; the unwillingness of politicians at the federal, state, and local levels to effectively deal with the social, financial, and political ramifications of a shadow population estimated at 12-20 million people, many of whom have entered the United States illegally, and others who overstayed their visas, is a major contribution to the budget shortfalls of many states.
 
California is facing a $42-44 billion budget shortfall and The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that 44 states are facing budget shortfalls in 2009.
 
Gov. Schwarzenegger and the Democrat state legislature have raised California taxes despite Californians being already burdened by the third highest tax rates in the country – only Connecticut and New York have higher tax burdens. The state legislature's out-of-control “spend and tax” culture has lead to a 40% increase in state spending during Schwarzenegger's term.
 
The really sad thing is that despite California’s huge outlay for education it has one of the worse public education systems and results in the country.
 
Facts are terrible things to those that prefer to think in political correct terms.
 
English as a second language, massive class sizes and increased costs of educating illegal aliens surely have had a huge impact on these rankings. For those of you who just love the "these people just looking for a job" justification to ignore illegal immigration, this shows the devastating impact they are having on the educational system.
 
Is it worth destroying a whole generation of our citizen children’s educational years simply to have lower cost produce or cheap gardeners?
 
California ranks next to last in states where the adult population has at least a high school education, according to a report released by the California Faculty Association at Cal State Los Angeles.
 
Ranking 49th out of 50 states is an indication of the state’s deteriorating educational status in recent decades, according to “California at the Edge of a Cliff,” by Thomas G. Mortenson, a senior scholar at the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education and publisher of the Postsecondary Education Opportunity newsletter. He believes California is arrogantly riding on its past; spending a lot of money and getting unsatisfactory results.
 
Mortenson has just released a report on higher education, prepared for the California Faculty Association (see www.calfac.org/calattheedge.html). He said he was "stunned to see how far and how fast California has fallen." In the share of adults with a bachelor's degree, California was No. 1 or No. 2 from 1977 to 1987. Today the state is No. 14. As of 2007, California ranked 14th in the nation in terms of college educated members of the workforce over 25 years of age “a big drop, a drop from 1987. According to the report, Mortenson said:
 
Other states have made greater gains in building a college educated workforce and moved past California. California is slipping toward educational and economic mediocrity among states on this critical measure of state competitiveness, prosperity and success.
 
The really bad news, however, is in the share of adults who are high school graduates. In one generation, California has dropped from the top to the bottom. The state was No.1 or No. 2 in this category from 1977 to 1987; today California is No. 49.
 
These poor results don’t faze the California teacher’s unions and other representatives. Despite the drop in education standing, California Faculty Association members used the report’s findings to criticize any proposed funding cuts to education.
 
“It is hypocritical for the governor to utter the words ‘we need job creation’ out of one side of his mouth while he cuts higher education funding from the other side of his mouth because you can’t create jobs when you are cutting the very institution that educates people to do those jobs,” said Lillian Taiz, president of the faculty association.
 
We are in a technology age and our education system must prepare high school graduates to enter the technology workforce. California schools rank 49th for technology. They are doing very poorly at integrating technology – especially online offerings – into the curriculum, lagging behind nearly every state in the nation at 49th place, according to an annual report on U.S. economic indicators. The 2008 State New Economy Index, prepared by the Washington, D.C.-based Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, found that California public schools fell behind every state except Utah in the number of students per high-speed Internet-connected computer and in how effectively they've integrated computer technology into the classroom; yet we spend almost $8,000 per pupil for education; enough to put California in the top half of all state’s expenditures on education. Where does that money go; not for technology?
 
A recent study ranks California 34th among all U.S. states in it's "students' potential for success." The state's poor ranking is due to disadvantages in early childhood. The study, conducted by the nonprofit group Editorial Projects in Education, evaluates state education systems based on 13 different categories from early childhood education to average annual income. According to the study's results, California's students' "chance for success" is lowest during early childhood due to socioeconomic disadvantages such as low family income and a lack of linguistic integration – factors that often prevent children from early education. The presence of large numbers of children of illegal immigrants in California schools is the major reason for such a low ranking in student’s potential.
 
Because non-English-speakers are so common in California – only 62.3% of California's children have parents who are fluent in English, compared to the national average of 84.3% – it is difficult to raise the averages for student potential for all students, including children of US citizens.
 
A “Smartest State” designation is awarded based on 21 factors chosen from Morgan Quitno's annual reference book, Education State Rankings, 2006-2007. To calculate the Smartest State rankings, there are 21 factors divided into two groups: those that are "negative" for which a high ranking would be considered bad for a state, and those that are "positive" for which a high ranking would be considered good. States are assessed based on how they stack up against the national average. The end result is that the farther below the national average a state's education ranking is, the lower (and less smart) it ranks. The farther above the national average, the higher (and smarter) a state ranks. This same methodology is used for our annual Healthiest State, Safest and Most Dangerous State and Safest/Dangerous City Awards.
 
Where does California stand in these rankings – 47 out of 50 states? (Mississippi is 48th.)
 
The yearly rankings of state education standings shows that states that allow in massive numbers of illegal aliens feel the effect directly in their education system. The 2005-2006 findings reported in a survey by Morgan Quitno Press, which looked at hundreds of public school systems in all 50 states shows that out of the bottom five states, 4 of them have massive numbers of illegal aliens.
 
46. California
47. Nevada
48. New Mexico
49. Mississippi
50. Arizona
 
Do you still want to be “politically correct” about illegal immigration and the effect it has on public schools, or do you want to do something about it?
 
Family Security Matters Contributing Editor Vincent Gioia is a retired patent attorney living in Palm Desert, California. His blogs at www.vincentgioia.com and he may be contacted at gioia@gte.net.

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