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Posted March 18th, 2011 in Uncategorized by steve


The Senate education committee Thursday afternoon passed a bill that would allow Oregon students brought to the country illegally to pay in-state tuition.

Senate Bill 742 would allow undocumented high school seniors who’ve lived in Oregon the last three years to pay in-state tuition at the state’s seven public universities. They now must pay out-of-state tuition, which is three times higher and a barrier to most of them.

Sen. Larry George, R- Sherwood, cast the only vote against the measure. He said the proposal addresses a compelling justice issue, but he is concerned it would cost the state money.

“We are cutting school days, we can’t fund full-day kindergarten,” he said, “and then we’re passing something that will put an additional burden on the higher education system.”

Sen. Frank Morse, R-Albany, said he could not hold children responsible for being brought to this country illegally by their parents. It is in the interest of the state to let undocumented youth “improve our country by improving their lives,” he said. “For me it is an issue of what will make Oregon better.”

Sen. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Beaverton, said if the students are charged out-of-state tuition, they won’t go to college, and the state will lose out on their contributions to society and the economy.

Before passing the bill Thursday, the Senate committee approved two amendments to it. One would require undocumented students seeking in-state tuition to sign an affidavit saying they have filed or will file an application for citizenship. The other requires them to have been in the country five years and in Oregon the last three.

The vote was met with a smattering of applause from some in the audience, glares of outrage from others.

“We have a pathetic bunch of people in charge,” fumed Mary Mayer, of Beaverton, who watched the vote. She was angry that Sen. Mark Hass, D-Beaverton, chair of the committee, didn’t allow public testimony. She said opponents to the bill have been ignored.

“These are people here illegally,” Mayer said. “The government has not kept these people out of our country. Now they’re saying Oregon taxpayers are going to pay for them.”

Hass noted after the meeting that in an emotional two-hour public hearing two weeks ago, the committee gave everyone interested in speaking a chance to do so. Opponents at that hearingargued the bill would reward students breaking the law at the expense of Americans here legally.

Vicki Falcon, a senior education major at Western Oregon University, said after the Thursday vote that she knows lots of young students who would be able to attend college if they could pay the less expensive in-state tuition.

“A lot of them are really intelligent,” Falcon said. “They’re part of the community. Why not be contributing to it?”

A study of Washington State, where the policy is in effect, suggests the lower tuition would draw only a handful of undocumented students, George Pernsteiner, chancellor of the Oregon University System, told the state board this month.

It would result in a “slight positive impact on the university system’s bottom line,” he said. “No one campus would serve more than 15 more students in the next four years.”

A majority of Oregon’s undocumented youth lives in low-income, Latino homes. They find it a challenge to pay resident tuition and fees, which now average $7,100 for undergraduates at the seven state campuses, university officials say. Out-of-state tuition, which is about three times that, would be out of reach, they say. University of Oregon tuition and fees total $8,190 for residents and $25,830 for students from out of state.

The bill, which heads next to a vote on the Senate floor, has support from business groups, university presidents and the State Board of Higher Education.

– Bill Graves and Harry Esteve

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Woodburn wins first playoff game

Posted November 10th, 2010 in Uncategorized by steve

The Woodburn Bulldogs, ranked #1 in Oregon’s 5A classification, beat Milwaukie 5-0 in Tuesday night’s playoff game. The Bulldogs are next scheduled to play against Sherwood on November 13th. This year marks Los Perros 25th straight post-season appearance, a state record among all team sports.

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Woodburn Bulldogs ready for postseason ranked #1 in Oregon

Posted November 3rd, 2010 in Uncategorized by steve

From the Oregonian newspaper:

Woodburn appears ready for a boys soccer state playoff run after winning the Class 5A Mid-Willamette Conference championship with a couple of playoff-type wins.

The Bulldogs clinched the title Tuesday with a 2-1 win over 2009 state championCorvallis. A tie would have been enough to give the title to Woodburn, No. 1 in theOregon School  Activities Association power rankings. But the Bulldogs pressed forward and won when Jaime Veles   scored with 1:20 remaining in the game to break a 1-1 tie.

A week ago Tuesday, Woodburn (7-0-0, 21 points) put itself in position to take the Mid-Willamette with a 2-0 win overCrescent Valley, the eventual second-place team. Corvallis (5-2-0, 15) finished third, one point behind the Raiders (5-1-1, 16).

“Those were state- final type games,” Woodburn coach Luis Del Rio said of playing Crescent Valley (No. 4 OSAA) and Corvallis (No. 7).

Yet, Del Rio said he’s nervous heading into the postseason, which starts  Saturday with an elimination game against Bend (4-8-1).

“We might be overconfident,” Del Rio said. “We’re playing a weaker team on paper, and they might start relaxing themselves and not respond to that kind of team.”

Del Rio said if the Bulldogs take care of business against Bend, “then I can say our confidence is the way we want.”

Del Rio has reason for concern. Woodburn has been ousted in its first playoff game the past two years, including 2008, when the Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 in the state.

– Nick Daschel

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Young Illegal Immigrants Get a Chance to Learn but Not Earn

Posted July 12th, 2010 in Uncategorized by steve

(From the Arizona Daily Star)

Juan’s room shows a life shaped by American education. It’s painted in the colors of Dallas’ Thomas Jefferson High School, his new alma mater. Trophies and medals brag for him: top 10 percent of his class, captain of two sports teams, a district first-place finisher in track, an almost perfect SAT score, the only football player in band. He’s a poster child of American schooling, with wishes to enter the military or teach English.

Neither option is open to Juan, who has grown up in the country illegally. Now he must realign his goals to fit his immigration status.

Thousands of high school graduates like Juan are discovering the dichotomy between a federal law that ensures their education and one that prevents them from using it.

“I never saw myself as an immigrant,” said Juan, a toddler when his family brought him from Mexico. Like the other students in this story, he is being identified only by his first name.

“I’ve been a Dallas boy forever. So it’s a bad feeling, knowing 17 years of study with regular kids — doing better than them — and I can’t even go out and find a job.” Federal law bans public schools from denying admission to illegal immigrants. Between 50,000 and 70,000 of them graduate each year from American high schools. No such law exists for public universities, though 10 states including Texas provide some form of in-state tuition aid to illegal immigrants.

Juan will attend the University of Texas at San Antonio. But in sharp irony to the country’s education ethos, a degree will not boost his career. Juan can’t gain legal employment without a Social Security number, meaning he can return to Mexico with his acquired skills or do the same work as his relatives here. He has decided to major in business administration because he knows a bit about mechanics from his uncle and won’t need to show papers to open a shop.

“Opportunity comes for people who work hard for it,” said the 18-year-old, echoing the mantra he learned in school. “Something might happen to reward me.”

Their legal paradox has become a central issue for illegal immigrant students, said Roberto Gonzales, an assistant professor of social work at the University of Washington who studies the demographic.

“Our laws treat children and adults differently, but they don’t allow for the life course of children becoming adults,” he said. “It produces a jarring effect right around junior or senior year when that comes into play, and they realize the experiences they have had up until then are not going to prepare them to move forward as adults.” Because of this, he said, only 5 percent to 10 percent of illegal immigrant high school students continue their educations. “From a policy standpoint, from a governmental standpoint, it’s a real waste of our talent. It’s a loss of investment we make in young people, who have skills and experience. The best they can hope for is to get into some graduate program and stall for time while they wait for legislation to pass.”

That proposed legislation is the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM, Act, a previously defeated bill that would create a path to citizenship for students. Immigration experts say it may have a greater chance of passing this year than a comprehensive immigration package. More than 100 members of the U.S. House have agreed to support the measure.

But that doesn’t make it likely. The shadow of Arizona’s new law cracking down on illegal immigrants has stretched to Texas. A current lawsuit by the Immigration Reform Coalition of Texas challenges the in-state tuition law. Accounts of detained Texan college students — from attendees of Harvard University to the University of Texas at Arlington — are increasingly common.

Despite initial discussion to allow undocumented students into the military, the state Republican Party opted to oppose amnesty at its convention in June.

“Everyone is quick to blame the enforcement of the law,” said Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “Nobody wants to attribute blame to parents who made a conscious decision to violate the law.” Others sacrifice for it, he said. “When you admit a kid to the University of Texas who is in the country illegally, by definition you are excluding somebody else. That kid also worked hard and his or her family didn’t break any law.”

Texas awarded about $33.6 million in state and institutional financial aid to these students between fall 2004 and summer 2008, which also includes those who are not legal permanent residents or U.S. citizens.

U.S. citizens “are having trouble making ends meet and can’t pay tuition for their own kids,” said David Rogers, the coalition’s attorney for the lawsuit, who believes the fragile economy and Arizona backlash will spawn greater restrictions for illegal immigrants.

David, another illegal immigrant, leaves the political wars of immigration reform to others. He tries not to think about it. He’d rather talk about fighting in the Army.

Half-deflated graduation balloons hang in a two-room apartment the 17-year-old shares with his extended family. If he had his own room, he said, he would display his ROTC medals — best sharpshooter, battalion leader, dedicated cadet. The certificate he keeps in a protective folder says he exemplifies “the high ideals and principles which motivated and sustained our patriot ancestors.” David realized he didn’t belong in that category when he tried to join the military.

“I can’t explain it,” he said. “You just go there and are brave enough to fight for the freedom of the United States. I would be fighting for my country.”

Instead, he will attend Brookhaven College in the fall and redirect dreams toward a career in Christian rap.

Thomas Jefferson High principal Eddie Conger sees more students like David every year, Texan dreamers suddenly aware they will relive their parents’ lives.

“Yes, we need to secure our borders,” he said. “But you’ve got to look at these kids that we have educated and allow them in because it’s in the best interest of our country.”

Viriviana, an undocumented student who attended Dallas’ Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, just graduated with honors from the University of Texas at Austin. She’ll start a master’s degree in social work at Columbia University this fall. Then she’ll wait.

“It feels like my status is my worst enemy,” she said. “It’s preventing me from doing what I was taught to do.”

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New poll shows Americans favor DREAM Act

Posted June 30th, 2010 in Uncategorized by steve — As much as the proponents of rounding up undocumented immigrants and sending them back across the border hate it, the majority of Americans have made it a point to publicly support one type of undocumented immigrant — the children.

We have seen that whenever a promising young student, who happens to be undocumented, is taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a good number of Americans decry the possible deportation of that student.

Time and time again, I’ve seen readers of Latina Lista, who are vocal critics that any sympathy or empathy be shown to undocumented immigrants, soften their stance when these young students are threatened.

Now, a new national bipartisan poll bears out those observations.

According to the poll commissioned by First Focus, a bipartisan child advocacy organization, 70 percent of Americans favor the DREAM Act.

That’s a 12 percent increase compared to a poll taken in 2004 when there was only 58 percent public support for the DREAM Act.

Over 1,000 people were randomly called by Opinion Research Corporation.

While the poll only asked two questions, the breakdown of respondents along party lines illustrates that 60 percent of polled Republicans want to see a DREAM Act passed.

A response like that gives hope to not only young DREAM Act students waiting for Congress to do something but should serve as an indicator to Democrats in Congress that immigration reform is not as dead an issue as their colleagues would like.

“The future success of our country lies in our ability to cultivate an educated workforce capable of competing in the global economy,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus. “We cannot afford to continue losing the talent of so many students who have already been educated in American schools. We strongly urge Congress to take action this year to pass the DREAM Act.”

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Why high school soccer is important

Posted June 28th, 2010 in Uncategorized by steve

Soccer’s growth in popularity in the U.S. can be seen and measured at high schools across the country. Read my post on the topic at The New Republic’s soccer blog, Goal Post:

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Woodburn Independent asks: Have Small Schools Worked?

Posted June 14th, 2010 in Uncategorized by steve

When Woodburn High School split into four themed “Small Schools”, each with less than 400 students, nobody knew if the new system would help raise student achievement or not. Across the country, Small Schools have met with mixed results–some schools have done remarkably well while others have not noted any improvements.

After four years of Small Schools at Woodburn, the Woodburn Independent took a look back to see if the change worked. Comparing the results with the previous high school can be a little tricky, since we are comparing a single school to each of the four Small Schools and Success Academy, an alternative high school designed to catch students who are failing at a Small School. In addition, some of the methodology the state uses to measure student progress has changed.

However, comparing each Small School against itself over four years appears to show significant improvement in graduation rates, test scores, and subject proficiency. Teachers and administrators also report some unexpected positive side effects of the smaller communities, such as fewer fights, less bullying, and more student participation in clubs and government.

Read the entire article here:

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