Friday, January 27, 2006

Hispanics Earning Degrees in Record Numbers

Jan. 27, 2006, 1:21AM
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau

AUSTIN - More Hispanics earned degrees and certificates at Texas colleges and universities last year than ever before, but they are still less likely to graduate than their white classmates.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board reported Thursday that the number of Hispanics completing undergraduate degree and certificate programs has grown 47 percent since 2000.

Yet officials and education experts want to see more Hispanics earn bachelor's degrees because they represent the state's fastest-growing ethnic group.

"It's good to see the increase," said David Gardner, the coordinating board's assistant commissioner for academic excellence and research, "but it should be higher. The base was low to begin with."

In part, officials attributed the growing number of degrees — 31,091 in fall 2005 compared with 21,087 in fall 2000 — to more Hispanics at colleges and universities across the state. The majority of those students start their post-secondary education at a community college.

Over the past five years, the percentage of Hispanics receiving associate degrees and certificates awarded by two-year colleges has grown twice as fast as the percentage of those earning bachelor's degrees at four-year institutions.

Education and income
The largest jump in bachelor's degrees was made by black students, with a 33 percent increase — one point higher than their Hispanic classmates.

Statewide, white students still continue to graduate in greater numbers. About 60 percent earn a bachelor's degree within six years of starting college, while Hispanics had a graduation rate of 40 percent and blacks roughly 35 percent.

"The increased number of associate degrees (for Hispanics) is great, but the more education the better," said Donald Foss, provost at the University of Houston. "The important thing is to get a bachelor's degree."

The level of education is the best predictor of income, said Steve Murdock, the state's demographer and a professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

According to the most recent data, 35 percent of white Texans had a college degree, while less than 9 percent of Latinos had one.

"It's a clear need that our non-Anglo students be competitive," Murdock said.

Opening up options
In another trend, women have accounted for two-thirds of the increase in bachelor's degrees at the state's public universities over the past five years. Black and Hispanic men are the least likely to graduate, according to the coordinating board's data.

Skipping college wasn't an option for Eric Gonzales, a graduate of MacArthur High School, where his father is the baseball coach.

"It was pretty much demanded," said Gonzales, who expects to graduate from UH this spring with an economics degree.

A member of the predominantly Hispanic fraternity Alpha Psi Lambda, Gonzales said he isn't surprised to hear the number of Texas Latinos earning college degrees is climbing.

"Not surprised. Just glad," he said. "I know once I get my degree I'll have career options. I won't be limited and forced to take something I don't want."

To increase the number of graduates at a time of limited resources, Raymund Paredes, the state's higher education commissioner, said universities must be encouraged to offer more classes on weeknights and weekends and in the summer.

He also said the state should consider requiring students to take more classes online and offering more opportunities for work-study programs.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Statewide Tejano Democrats Screening and Endorsement Convention


Just wanted to let eveyone know that the State Wide Tejano Democrats are having their Screening and Endorsement Convention in Houston on February 10th and 11th. More details will be comming . . . so mark your calendar. It will be a great oportunity to see all the Democratic nominees for Governor and other statewide and local candidates.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Reports of Mexican Military on US Soil Greatly Exaggerated

This immigration issue is getting real hot, read this story by the AP.

Reports of Mexican soldiers frequently crossing onto U.S. soil are overblown, and many of the incidents are just mistakes, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said.

Chertoff's remarks followed a newspaper report that Mexican military units had crossed into the United States 216 times since 1996. The report by the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin of Ontario on Sunday was based on a Homeland Security Department report.

Chertoff estimated there were only about 20 crossings a year, and said "a significant number of those are innocent things" in which police or military from Mexico step across the border because they're not aware of exactly where the line is.

To read on click here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Menendez Sworn in as US Senator

Once a House heavyweight, New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez on Wednesday became the U.S. senator with the least seniority and couldn't have been more happy about it.

He found it funny when he was stopped by security personnel when he tried to enter areas of the Capitol marked "for senators only," and he said he was still trying to find his way around the Senate side of the building after spending 13 years in the House.

Menendez, sworn in Wednesday, hopes his newness wears off soon, and he rattled off a list of things he hopes to accomplish before he has to face New Jersey voters this year for the right to hold the seat for the next six years.

Here is the rest of the story from ABC News.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Guerra: Both Parties Watching Redistricting Case

When Rolando Ríos finally showed up at the downtown diner Wednesday morning, José Garza, George Korbel and Luís Vera were waiting to warn him, good-naturedly, not to be late on March 1st.

In the decades the four attorneys have been fighting for minority voting rights, Vera laughs, they have shared plaintiffs' tables with Republicans and Democrats. And both parties betrayed them.

Now, they are preparing to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court's affirmation of Texas' mid-decade congressional re-redistricting plan. Nationally, legal scholars are watching LULAC vs. Perry closely.

Challenges to congressional maps have not been uncommon. But until now, the complaints were about maps redrawn to equalize congressional district populations after new U.S. Census figures were released. This case is different.

Click here for the rest of Carlos Guerra's commentary.

USA Today Editorial on Cisneros Probe

Washington investigations, especially those by independent counsels, can roll on for years, eating taxpayer dollars long after their original purpose has been achieved.
So it is with the investigation of former Housing secretary Henry Cisneros, now in its 11th year.

Cisneros, accused of paying hush money to an ex-mistress and misleading officials about it, pleaded guilty in 1999 to lying to the FBI and was fined $10,000. His former paramour and others pleaded guilty to charges of bank fraud and making false statements. President Clinton, on his last day in office, pardoned Cisneros and the woman.

The independent counsel law has expired. Clinton and Cisneros are on to new careers. But the investigation, which has cost $22 million since David Barrett was appointed independent counsel in 1995, isn't officially over. The reason isn't known. Barrett says only that the investigation was extended to explore accusations that attempts had been made to obstruct the investigation and related misconduct. Several news organizations, citing anonymous sources, have reported that those accusations involve the Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department. Barrett's report was completed by August 2004, but it has been sealed by a special federal court that oversees independent counsels. Lawyers for people named in it have filed more than 140 motions to keep their clients from being identified publicly.

Here is the rest of the editorial.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Hispanic Leaders to Protest US-Mexico Wall

Nine leaders from local Hispanic organizations joined hands as they announced peace marches in Laredo and Washington, D.C., to protest the proposed wall between Mexico and the United States Tuesday night at a midtown taqueria.

Representatives of the South Texas Amigos de Mexico, the Coastal Bend Immigration Council, the American GI Forum, the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Contra-Minutemen Coalition condemned the "wall of shame" and said it would do little to stop immigration.

"We're building a wall instead of tearing walls down," said Nancy Vera, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens #4444. "There has to be a way that we can help Mexico, help the people who are already here and live in harmony."

Click here for the rest of the story by Mari Saugier at the Corpus Christi Calller.