The Morning Herald from Hagerstown, Maryland on March 5, 1946 · Page 25
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The Morning Herald from Hagerstown, Maryland · Page 25

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Tuesday, March 5, 1946
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Santa Fe, N.M., Frl„ Apr, " 1977 THE NEW MEXICAN A7 anics about politics By William Greider The Washington Post WASHINGTON - The enduring puzzle of modern politics involves a bit of magic —how do invisible people make themselves seen and heard? The black minority figured it out. Now it appears that another vast constituency, long neglected, not listened-to much, is beginning to learn the trick: the 11 million, Hispanic-Americans.. "Hispanics are learning how the game is played," said Alfonso Ludi, an equal- opportunity officer at NASA by day and a community activist on his own time. Willie Velasquez of San Antonio, who heads the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, explained: "It's similar to what happened in the South with blacks. The same thing is happening with Latinos except we're a couple years behind. But there's no question that political action is the priority now." Rep. Edward R. Roybal, the Los Angeles Democrat who has started a fledgling five-member Latino Caucus on Capitol Hill, puts the transition in this perspective: "I still think we're in a gray area. I don't think you could say the Hispanic community is being' recognized. yet, but the potential is there. There's a different attitude." While these things are impossible to measure,' Washington does have some tangible evidence that the citizens'of Spanish origin, from Mexican-Americans to Puerto Ricans, are influencing the political decision-making with more f o r c e and more sophistication. This does not mean the millennium is at hand — any more than blacks have arrived at their political objectives. Still, the change is evident' from a few years ago when the wide array of Hispanic groups often squabbled among themselves and watched in frustration as other special interests moved in on the pie — especially federal jobs and funds. Consider these scattered examples: —The heat is rising on President Carter to follow through on his generous campaign promises of jobs for Hispanic-Americans, whose disappointment ranges from mild to furious. While some groups work with a velvet glove of low- key persuasion, others are keeping their "frustration visible," as Ludi put it. This month, the Hispanic- American archbishop of Santa Fe., N.M., the Most Rev. Robert Sanchez, is scheduled to celebrate a special mass at the Lincoln Memorial, followed by La Marcha de reconocimiento — March of Recognition — around the White House. Ludi, an organizer, accused the Carter administration of lapsing into "the business- asusual treatment of our needs as soon as the election ends." — Some Hispanic spokesmen are confronting, on a number of levels, the traditional priorities of filling minority-designated jobs with blacks. "Generally, I think our goals are similar,' said Lupe Saldana, an equal- opportunity officer at the Environmental Protection Agency and Washington representative for the GI Forum. "But we do find that history has put the blacks in almost as our middleman, where we have to go to him for our money and our jobs, and we don't like that particularly." —The Mexican-American viewpoint, which has become much more unified, in the last two years, now is an important factor in whatever legislation organized labor hopes to attain on the problem of illegal aliens from Mexico. The combined force of Hispanic groups might not "There is a new type of leadership that is sophisticated and moderate. These aren't people who are off the wall. They're taking government jos and doing a good job with them... It's the American way." be strong enough to sell all of their own proposals, but it is acknowledged that they can ally themselves with other interests to help kill the legislation, as they did last year. —The Hispanic groups went head-to-head with the NAACP last year on a particular issue — whether the Voting Rights Act should be broadened to cover the Spanish-speaking of the Southwest — and the Hispanic position prevailed in Congress. —The growth of Latino elected officials has been slow the last decade, according to Velasquez, but he expects the pace to quicken, based on the voter drives under way. Mexican- Americans now claim 2 governors and 74 legislators in the states of Texas, Colorado, Arizona,- New Mexico and California, where they have 17 per cent of the populat on. Only 6 per cent of municipal officials are Spanish-origin citizens. : "There is a new type of leadership that is sophisticated and moderate," said E.. B. Duarte, a special assistant and Hispanic liaison for the U.S. immigration commissioner. "These aren't people who are off the wall. They're taking government jobs and doing a good job with them. It's not different really from the Irish or Italians or blacks. It's the American way." A decade ago, when minorities were in ferment and struggling to develop stronger voices in politics, the only Hispanic figures who got much attention nationally were the ones with the most provocative rhetoric, staging street confrontations or worse in the interest of arousing their own people and building political movements. In a sense, their success is reflected in the greater sophistication and more substantial political muscle that has eclipsed them. One place where Hispanics have made a small but important beachhead is in the federal government itself — the "ghetto in public service," as community activist Alfonso Ludi, a NASA employe during working hours, called the equal- opportunity offices- in federal agencies. This at least gives them access to make the complaint, to gather the data and churn the political system. * Their favorite statistics are these: from 1968 to 1975, a period when minority employment was supposedly a priority, the federal government increased its Hispanic jobholders only from 2.8 to 3.3 per cent. They expect President Carter to do better, faster. On the other hand, Ludi said access and prodding do change things, as he has learned at NASA. The agency was burned by controversy when its well- known civil rights officer was fired. In the year that followed, equal-opportunity hiring improved considerably — including 33 Hispanic engineers, slightly more than the number of black engineers hired. The black-brown conflict keeps popping up. Manuel Fierro, president of El Congreso, a lobbying coalition, wrote a very strong letter recently to Health, Education and Welfare Secretary Joseph A. Califano Jr., opposing the appointment of William ' Robinson as director of Civil black Renewed debate looms oyer teacher standards By Fred Buckles A New Mexico junior high school English teacher studied no reading, writing or mathematics methods courses at a state university. She took no university course in writing composition. The last grammar-related course she recalls was as a high school junior and her grade was a "D." A junior high remedial reading teacher look- one reading course, "Adolescent Literature," while she was a student teacher. The course offered a list of books with 1 synopses that secondary level students should find interesting. A New Mexico elementary teacher had no reading, writing or arithmetic methods courses at a state university. She met the three semester hours reading certification requirement with a children's literature course known as "Kiddie Lit." Those and other findings by the Legislative School Study Committee sparked stinging LSSC criticism of teacher preparation at New Mexico universities and the State Education Department's teacher certification unit. A major LSSC bill to divorce teacher certification from the SDE under the State Education Board died in the legislative session. , Inside the Capitol but the SDE, SBE and New. Mexico colleges of education were soundly whacked by legislators. The SBE got the message and the fight over responsibility for teacher certification will be renewed here at a SBE meeting April 18. For more than 30 years teacher certification standards have been set, in effect, by the National Education Association-New Mexico's TEPS Commission (Teacher Education and Professional Standards), The teacher organization's commission recommends standards to the SBE. The SBE usually adopts the recommendations. ' The current 12-member TEPS Commission is composed of Dr. Jack Saunders, chairman; 10 public schools teachers and an assistant principal. Dr. Saunders is dean of New Mexico State University's College of Education. NEA-NM Asst. Executive Director Jay Miller says: "We would like to keep the TEPS Commission as it is. TEPS formerly had almost complete influence over standards adopted. In the last two or three years the SBE has appointed its own committee to review TEPS recommendations and sharply revised several recommendations." But Executive Director Frank Ready of New Mexico School Boards Assn. disagrees strongly. Ready says: "Very frankly, the SBE should eliminate TEPS as an advisory committee. It does not represent, the total educational community, only NEA-NM members. I'm , hopeful the SBE will set up an advisory committee that will conduct, a complete, thorough and ongoing study of v. teacher certification;" Executive Director Earl Nunn of the 500-member New Mexico School Administrators Association proposed a • .totally revamped 15-member certification advisory panel to the SBEat its March meeting—five teachers, two principals, two special services personnel (business managers, librarians, counselors, and .others), two university deans of education, two SDE representatives, a local school board member and a central office administrator (a school personnel director, for example). Nunn represents local school superintendents and other administrators. • State Schools Supt, Leonard DeLayo says: "I will recommend to the state board thatteacher certification , matters be broadly based to include local school board members, parents, students and others. This does not mean I will exclude NEA-NM and deans of education." But DeLayo adds: "The NEA-NM TEPS Commission has had exclusive input to the SBE for several decades. This must change." The LSSC says testimony showed:, "Thirty-five per cent of New Mexico elementary students will have problems learning to read while 65 por, cent will learn to read regardless of instructional,.methods usod." Dr. Charles Bomont, director of New Mexico's Right to Read project, said of reading ability: "Our New Mexico schools have actually been counter-productive with a hegative / impact on pupil achievement. It is a. harsh and unfortunate fact that the longer studorits do remain in our schools the farther behind the national average they get." HEW's Office of Rights. Robinson is and general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, where Fierro says he neglected Hispanic employment discrimination. "We're got to overcome this idea that civil rights positions are only for blacks," he said. "They called us, trying to get us together, and I said, look, I'm not interested in trying to sensitize him any more. He ought to be sensitized already." El Congreso has been shot down on some other initiatives. Fierro lobbied in vain for Hispanics to serve as EEOC chairman and as assistant secretary of state for Latin America. On the other hand, the Carter administration has made at least three Hispanic appointments to jobs at the assistant secretary level — including the new commissioner of immigration and naturalization, Leonel Castillo of Houston. So Fierro and other leaders are generally optimistic about the future even while they continue to raise complaints. On most issues, the Hispanic organization sees a natural alliance with blacks, seeking greater funding for federal programs, protecting human rights in domestic settings. So the points of conflict are often minimized. "Within the last several years, the Mexican- American community has been playing a kind of catch-up in many communities," said Manuel Lopez of Los Angeles, a leader of the Mexican American Political Association. "At that time, they may have come in conflict with blacks who were in the managerial positions, but on a broader scale we seek coalition." Rivalries between organizations and leaders still are a . factor but apparently less dramatic than they once were. Rep. Edward R. Roybal, the Los Angeles Democrat who has started a five-member Latino Caucus on Capitol Hill, and others are organizing a National Association of Latino Democratic Officials, hoping to pull together 5.000 to G.000 elected and appointed public officials as a nationwide assembly that would lobby government. Legislation to curb the influx of illegal aliens by imposing federal penalties on employers who hire them has been bottled up in recent years by what E.B. Duarte, a special assistant and Hispanic liaison for the U.S. immigration commissioner, calls "an unholy alliance" among the agribusiness lobby (which likes the influx of cheap labor), Hispanic-American groups, the Catholic Church i which supports the Hispanics) and civil libertarians who fear broad- brush police actions. The consensus position of the Hispanics now is that they would go along with tougher controls only with these conditions: The government grants an amnesty to the 8.5 million "undocumented workers" (5.5 million are Hispanic) who are already living and working in this country; the government creates some sort of reliable identity card for job-seekers so that Mexican-Americans will not be discriminated against; the government launches a long-range trade-and-aid program for Mexico to solve the problem at its source. While the prospects for settlement are mixed at best, the Latino position suggests what some see as another future issue — when Hispanic-Americans develop a heightened sense of foreign-policy interests just as other ethnic groups, Jews and Irish and blacks, have tried to help ancestral homelands through U.S. diplomacy. That development is still a ways off. But these things do change. "It's not really very strong right now. but it's growing," Saldana said. "We will begin to take positions on things like the Panama Canal treaty. We're gathering momentum. We're beginning to see a broader picture." 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