Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Right to a great public education; California

We've got to stop cutting public education. To ease the budget crisis, one state after another is taking an ax to higher education. This is cruel and shortsighted.
Cruel because it denies students the right to a decent education. Shortsighted because how will this generation of students get prepared to compete globally or even to clean up the financial mess brought about by Wall Street?
I'm a product of the worst and best public education California has to offer. I grew up in an East Los Angeles housing project in the 1970s and 1980s. I attended overcrowded public schools in the inner city. Like many racial minorities from America's barrios and ghettos, I received an inadequate education.
While I excelled in mathematics, I was never taught to read or write at a competent level throughout my K-12 schooling. To complicate matters, the longest paper assigned to me in high school was two pages long.
I taught myself how to properly read and write while going through college to compensate for my poorly funded K-12 education. But what will happen to those without this same self-drive that I learned from my Mexican immigrant mother? Fortunately, I also benefited from affirmative action and from numerous educational outreach programs and policies like Occident College's Upward Bound - a preparatory program for students from disadvantaged communities.
If not for such programs, I wouldn't have made it to UCLA as an undergraduate. I wouldn't have earned a master's degree in urban planning there. And I wouldn't be pursuing my doctorate at Berkeley.
So I worry about those who grow up in poor neighborhoods without the same educational safety nets that allowed for me to attend some of the best universities in this country. I can't help but be concerned about the plight of my wife's elementary school students in East Los Angeles today.
Those who fight affirmative action and against government-sponsored early educational outreach programs conveniently wash their hands of any responsibility toward those who lack the financial resources and access to human capital to go to college.
And fewer and fewer have those resources, with one state after another raising tuition and other fees. These fee hikes couldn't come at a worse time.
If we care about equality of opportunity, if we are concerned about our ability to compete in the global economy, it's time to give everyone, including those from America's barrios and ghettos, a shot at a great public education.
Alvaro Huerta is a doctoral student at the University of California at Berkeley and a visiting scholar at UCLA's Chicano Studies Research Center. He wrote this for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues; it is affiliated with The Progressive magazine. Readers may write to the author at: Progressive Media Project, 409 East Main Street, Madison, Wis. 53703; e-mail:; Web site: For information on PMP's funding, please visit
This article was prepared for The Progressive Media Project and is available to MCT subscribers.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Sacramento Multicultural Education Conference : Free

Social justice educator Brian D. Schultz is the keynote speaker for the 16th annual Multicultural Education Conference, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 14, in Sacramento State’s University Union.
Titled, “Social Justice Through Civic Engagement and Action,” the free conference is sponsored by Sacramento State’s Bilingual/Multicultural Education Department (BMED) and co-sponsored by the Serna Center and Project Citizen. The conference provides an opportunity for university faculty and local educators to promote multicultural education in K-12 public schools in the Sacramento region
Schultz is the author of Spectacular Things Happen Along the Way: Lessons from an Urban Classroom. A panel discussion by candidates for California State Superintendent of Public Instruction will follow Shultz’ talk. The rest of the day will be filled with 30 break-out sessions on a range of topics including Peace and Conflict Resolution, Technology Integration and Anti-Bias Media Analysis, and Impact of Educational Reform Polices on English Learners.
For more information or to register for the conference, visit, e-mail Maggie Beddow at, or call the BMED Office at (916) 278-5942. For media assistance, call Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.