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The Challenge of Educating Everyone

Three not-so-terribly-unrelated education stories for the day ...

» Texas Tribune: Behind the Class of 2014, Texas' Demographic Future

Hispanics became the majority of total public school students for the first time in 2011, growing by about 10 percentage points over the decade since 2000. Since that same year, the overall percentage of economically disadvantaged students has also grown, from less than half to 60 percent of all public school students — more than double a 20 percent increase in the public school population as a whole. But the bulk of those students are concentrated in the younger grades, with the percentage from economically disadvantaged backgrounds steadily declining to a low of 46 percent in the class of 2012, the latest year data is available. That is soon set to change as the population of students in the lower grades make their way through the school system.


The changes present both challenges and opportunities to Texas public schools. According to state data, Hispanic students have been statistically less likely to leave high school with a diploma than their Anglo peers. Of the Hispanic students who do graduate, few are prepared for college. In 2011, 42 percent met college-readiness benchmarks in both English and math, compared with 65 percent of Anglo students.

» NY Times: Loud Voice Fighting Tide of New Trend in Education

Diane Ravitch made her name in the 1970s as a historian chronicling the role of public schools in American social mobility. In the 1990s, she went to work in the Bush administration’s Education Department, where she pushed for a rejection of 1960s relativism and a return to basics and standards. After leaving government, she called for the removal of incompetent teachers, for tying school performance to student scores, and for closing failing schools.

Now Ms. Ravitch, 75, is in the full flower of yet another stage in her career: folk hero to the left and passionate scourge of pro-business reformers. She has come to doubt the whole project of school reform, saying it will solve little without addressing poverty and segregation. “We know what works,” she writes. “What works are the opportunities that advantaged families provide for their children.”

» Texas Tribune: No Waiver for Texas on Testing for Younger Students

In a Sept. 6 letter, Assistant Secretary of Education Deborah Delisle told TEA commissioner Michael Williams that the federal education department would not exercise its authory to waive No Child Left Behind provisions that require Texas and other states to test public school students in grades three through eight annually in reading and math and at least once in science in elementary and middle school.

She wrote that annual assessment was "critical to holding schools and LEAs [local education agencies] accountable for improving the achievement of all students."

Despite sharply reducing the number of standardized tests high school students must pass to graduate, lawmakers — in response to widespread concern over the effects of excessive assessment on classroom instruction — failed this year to bring conclusive relief for students in lower grades, who take a total of 17 state tests before entering high school.

I've got the upcoming Diane Ravitch release pre-ordered, but I'm embarrassed to say that I still need to finish off the last couple of chapters of her previous book before the new one comes out on the 17th.

And since the first Trib piece gives me something of an excuse to do so, here's the video clip of the recent Ed reform bill (HB5) getting a conference committee vote on the House floor. The highlight is Mark Strama's final House speech that comes before the actual vote, but Harold Dutton's speech afterward is also very much on-target.


Jillson on Demographics

» Texas Tribune: "Lone Star Tarnished" [Excerpt] (Cal Jillson)

Jillson's conclusion ...

Between 1900 and 2000, the Hispanic share of the Texas population increased from less than 5 percent to 32 percent and by 2040 is expected to be 53 percent. Bluntly, the question now is — because Hispanic income and educational attainment are lower than Anglos — does this mean that an increasingly Hispanic Texas must be poorer, less educated, and less productive? The answer, some assure, is no; especially if Hispanics, or Texas, or some combination of the two, act to improve Hispanic educational attainment. Then Hispanic productivity and income will grow, and Texas will continue to prosper. Others worry that demographic change is outrunning improvement in educational attainment. As Texas State Demographer Lloyd Potter said in early 2011, “A [Hispanic] population that isn’t making enough money to fuel our economy, or ends up being a burden on the state — that is not indicative of having a higher quality of life in the future.”

Texas has two choices: It can either try to change these numbers, or it can try to change the social and economic attributes of the coming Hispanic majority. Over the first century and more of the state’s history, Texans and their political leaders took the first path; they tried to shape the racial and ethnic makeup of the state. During the coming decades, Texans and their political leaders will either commit to the second path, changing Hispanic social and economic attributes, or pay an unsustainably heavy price.

If any of this sounds familiar, its probably because former Texas demographer Steve Murdock has been laying the groundwork on this for over a decade. Heather MacDonald at City Journal offers another state's similarities. Her's is a more right-leaning ideological spin on the subject, but the diagnostic part isn't terribly dissimilar.

Murdock has obviously focused a great deal on economic issues, as Jillson does with the Trib excerpt. That's fine and well - there's certainly good reason to devote a lot of energy to that aspect alone. But I'm curious to see what, if any, treatment is given to the rise in non-citizen population over the past 15 years and what implication that has for matters economic and beyond.

MacDonald, for her part, notes " ... small, almost entirely Latino, cities in the Los Angeles basin have been politically passive toward local governance." In checking the three she mentions: Bell, Maywood and La Puente, all but La Puente are over 80% CVAP Hispanic with a CVAP conversion rate of under 50%. La Puente has a higher CVAP conversion rate of 61%. I know that's my dead horse to beat, but I've got to think that maybe, just maybe, the connection between low rates of citizenship are worth some more study. The "civic miscarriages" that MacDonald notes aren't necessarily unique to heavily Hispanic towns and the shell towns that seem to find innovative ways to maximize corruption with very little population at all are points that somehow go missing from the grander narrative of un-assimilated brown folk. Regardless of whose prescriptive takes you or I may favor, the broader dividing point seems to be who has the burden of assimilation - be it economic, cultural, linguistically, or merely preference in sports teams.

Jillson at least hints that the subject matter might go beyond economic with him and I'm hoping his book does. Those in power don't typically cede it easily. And we're obviously already seeing some of the early warning signs of shifting political fortunes. For a more national take on that, Bill King serves up a good tangent on this subject. Jillson's upcoming book is wildly over-priced for Kindle, but it's still a discount from the hard copy. And I'll still download a copy.


About That Immigration Slowdown …

» NY Times: The Next Immigration Challenge (Dowell Myers)

Another solid datapoint that highlights the slowdown in immigration:

The most startling evidence of the falloff is the effective disappearance of illegal border crossers from Mexico, with some experts estimating the net number of new Mexicans settling in the United States at zero. The size of the illegal-immigrant population peaked in 2007, with about 58 percent of it of Mexican origin, according to the Pew Hispanic Center; since 2008, that population has shrunk by roughly 200,000 a year. Illegal immigrants from Asia and other parts of the globe have similarly dwindled in numbers.

This new equilibrium is here to stay, in large part because Mexico’s birthrate is plunging. In 1970 a Mexican woman, on average, gave birth to 6.8 babies, and when they entered their 20s, millions journeyed north for work. Today the country’s birthrate — at 2.1 — is approaching that of the United States. That portends a shrinking pool of young adults to meet Mexico’s future labor needs, and less competition for jobs at home.

I'm still fairly skeptical of the impact that a declining birthrate will have. If anything, I'd bet on it being a negligible influence that can once more be overwhelmed if we see a good economy in America combined with a stagnant once in Mexico or elsewhere in Central America. Bottom line: the economy on both sides of the border are the biggest drivers of immigration.

The rest of the piece is worth a read in full. The results ... those we'll have to wait and see in the years ahead.


Increasingly Improving Almanac Update

An update of sorts on the Almanac project ...

- Unless I've gone totally bleary-eyed in the midst of updating wiki pages and/or just flat-out missed a few, I believe all 150 State Rep districts now have updated election results from 2002 to 2010. I owe it to myself to do a full run-through to check for gaps. But I believe the entire thing should now have every election district (Congress, SBOE, Senate, House) done similarly. Take it from me, running through 150 State Rep districts on my own is a chore. Time to look into getting an intern. If you happen to spot a page missing any election data, let me know. Otherwise, I'll be far beyond happy to know that they're all completed.

And just in time to change the districts and load up 2008 and 2010 data for each of those.

- About those new maps: it looks like DOJ is prodding the San Antonio court to not use the State's maps as part of any interim redistricting plans. Can't wait to see how this all ends up.

- Aside from a couple of minor, stylistic changes, like making the SBOE election data for 2002 to 2008 consistent with how I do all the other election return tables, I'm hoping to get some district writeups added to the whole thing. I'm not about to think that I can do 232 district profiles in a timely manner during my free time. But I do hope to cover the Houston area fully and as many competitive districts or districts with high-profile electeds as much as possible. A decent go-by example is the work done for CD29 (and a few other CDs). Those were written prior to the 2010 election, so there's some updating to be done to account for changes in that election (such as this). As always, if you care to contribute, feel free to register and start writing.

- As part of this aspect, I'm in full scavenger mode for any old Almanac of American Politics since the district profiles there are pretty much what I've grown up reading. Ideally, if anyone has a spare copy of issues that predate 2002, I'd love to borrow them. Anything after that is too much of a chore to read as Barone's recent turn toward ideological cheerleader adds too much laughter and eyerolling to endure for meaningful study. Optimally, anything from the 80s and 90s is good. I'm already turning my place upside down for my '86 and '88 copies to no avail. Next time I ditch bookshelves for putting the library in storage boxes, I truly need an intervention.

- With a little luck, I'll also be able to get around to the Top 15 or 20 county profiles. The pre-2010 version of Harris County is a good place to start. There's enough demographic data that I've been spilling onto the blog that also needs to find a home in the Almanac.


Food For Thought at the Lanier Conference

As a minor bit of reporting for my whereabouts, I spent a good part of the day attending the Lanier Public Policy Conference's America 2011: The Lines, Numbers & Politics of a Changing Nation. As if the promise of spouting off a bunch of numbers, demographics, maps, and charts wasn't enough, the idea of spending time listening to National Journal's Ron Brownstein and Rice University's Steve Murdock sealed the deal.

There's more notes in my head and scribbled on my notepad to go into immediately. So I'll have to spread out some of it out now that I have a credible excuse to talk about several topics that I haven't dived into deeply enough.

By way of making a "meta point" about a lot of the conversation and heading into the weekend with a cliffhanger, I'll offer this much: there was a lot of conversation about the total population and majority-minority status. Voting Age Population and citizenship were discussed, to be sure. But the notions were batted about a bit too easily and one of the dead horses many fine and wonderful ideas that I know I've brought up a time or two is that at this point in history, the discrepancy between what the electorate looks like and what either the Total or Voting Age populations are is at a unique pinnacle that makes it a grave mistake to cloud the difference between the two.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear Bob Heath, an attorney with Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta, talk about the ratio of adult citizens to adult among Hispanics in several major Texas cities. The data was right out of the ACS survey and Heath took notices of many of the same disparities that I noticed here.

Likewise, Jeffrey Passel of the Pew Hispanic Center noted a good deal of research that demonstrated why we've reached the peak point that we're at as well as two reasons why it's declining. For one, immigration has been declining since 2007. Secondly, for the first time since 1960 (ie - effectively the first time under the current era of immigration), growth among Hispanics came more from births than it did from immigration. That second point indicates that much of the short-term growth we will see in the Hispanic population will be among natives already here. It may confuse the question of what it means for Hispanic population growth on the whole, but in terms of enabling better opportunity for civic participation, it strikes me as a net positive.

Taken together, a lot of the conversation leads me to one question: what does it mean to be "minority-majority"?

Economically, the answers may be very different than what they do politically. I believe one of the many points Ron Brownstein made was that we should be on the lookout for more manifestations of the way in which the current Anglo majority deals with an inability to guarantee electoral success. He also noted that Obama was the first Democratic President elected to office while losing the Anglo vote by double digits. And while the 2010 elections may demonstrate that there are ways that the electoral game can be played to maintain a political majority, that does nothing to escape the economic fate of both Anglo retirees who rely on a growing pool of workers who no longer look like them or vote like them as well as those increasingly minority youths who are seeing a not-entirely-proverbial war on voting rights (ie - Voter ID) as well as some economic opportunities even being limited for many of them (ie - opposition to the DREAM Act).

So there's enough food for thought to create a full buffet of blog posts out of me. Hopefully, I'll get to that over the weekend as time permits. At one point, I think I may have scribbled down over 30 more areas to map out for a little bit of comparing and contrasting. We'll see where the time goes. For now, it was time well spent.


The Good and Bad Reasons for Less Immigration

» Wash. Post: Violence stemming migrant flow to U.S.
» NY Times: Better Lives for Mexicans Cut Allure of Going North

Two good case studies for why the demographic shift in areas reliant upon net immigration will be very different for the decade ahead than the decade past. In terms of the impact on electorates and planning for GOTV efforts in campaigns, however, a lot of potential misunderstanding results from faulty assumptions of immigration. A case in point is an observation that Mike Lux picked up on back in 2009 in order to make the two-pronged point that: a) Hispanics don't vote, and b) that 85% of new eligible voters since 2002 are minorities, most of them Hispanic. That second prong, it turns out, hinged very heavily on the most optimistic immigration scenario that the State Demographer's office drew in their population projections. It was a high end projection (see page 8) that they themselves did not even use in settling on their official population estimates.

There are obviously a lot of other aspects of why the trend that these two stories pick up are important. But for the sake of focusing on demographic changes and the impact they have on elections, these stories are a good highlight of how much more complex the reality on the ground is. The high rate of growth among the Hispanic population in Texas and Harris County may or may not carry into this decade. But even if it does, it will be in different ways than the last decade, where we saw something very close to a perfect storm of inter- and intra-national migration of Hispanics, an slow, but still steady trend of Anglos either dying off, or continuing to disperse to the exurbs (forget the suburbs), and a housing boom that fed the diffusion of just about every demographic group.

We obviously don't have the same housing boom - even here in Texas, where the mortgage boom had less of an impact on the new developments built in the previous decade. And now, we obviously don't have the same immigration boom that we had in the first half of the last decade. The absence of both of those trends should have a large impact on what we see in the decade ahead.


CVAP Conversion by City

Another take on the CVAP Conversion Rate here. This time, I'm looking at entire cities and the counts provided straight off of the American Community Survey estimates. The chart below shows the 25 biggest cities in Texas (ranked by overall population). The chart shows Hispanic counts at the level of Total Population, 18+ Population, Total Citizen Population, and Citizen Voting Age Population. As a reminder, the conversion rate is just dividing CVAP by the 18+ counts for Hispanic population.

Interesting differences among the major cities, to be sure. What's even more interesting is applying a bit of algebra to the numbers provided, which show that Houston's <18 population is 87.3% citizen. The trend is replicated throughout the state, with the statewide number for all cities being 92% for <18 Hispanics. --------- Top 25 Texas Cities, as measured by 2005-09 American Community Survey population estimates. CVAP Conversion is a measurement of Citizen Voting-Age Population (CVAP) divided by the total 18+ Hispanic Population.

CityTotal Hisp. Pop.18+ Hisp. Pop.Hisp. Citizen Pop.CVAPCVAP Conversion
San Antonio807,195552,100711,235467,14084.6%
Fort Worth224,835140,125151,11075,21053.7%
El Paso482,185323,355399,425247,46076.5%
Corpus Christi164,590112,845154,485104,01092.2%
Grand Prairie65,19039,57549,07025,40564.2%


A point of comparison to other large cities on their CVAP conversion rate:

Los Angeles ... 48.6%
New York City ... 67.5%
Chicago ... 60.0%
Philadelphia ... 83.8%


Kuff on Murdock

Kuff interviews former Texas demographer, Steve Murdock and it's a must-listen. There's more good bits of insight in the interview than I can spend time summing up. But whether it's demographic chatter, sociological back & forth, or a good take on the state's structural funding problems, make some time to listen to it.

I've not read Murdock's book - The Texas Challenge (free pdf here) - but I've read the online freebies and listened to his summaries of it from other presentations.

One aspect that I'm somewhat curious to hear more about is what impact the regionality of discrepancies impacts the change he sees ahead. In other words, if much of the low-income, low-education growth we're seeing is disproportionately from South Texas (as one example), I don't think that means that immediate changes are in store for the north Dallas suburbs. That's not to minimize the importance of addressing challenges in South Texas, but I think it's much more relevant to the micro-economic decisions that are felt on the ground in both places when you view them distinctly.

The Economist does a bit of this type of analysis (here and here), focusing on disparities between American states and British regions. It's also a way of looking at economic and health care advances that Hans Rosling does (see the 3:00 mark of the video with the comparison of China and the US for a major example of this). I don't intend to minimize the impact of what such changes mean for Texas as a whole, but I'm curious to know if there's anything to be gained from viewing the situation from a regional basis within Texas.


What Multiracial Looks Like

» NY Times: Census Data Presents Rise in Multiracial Population of Youths

There are 57 racial combinations on the census. But of the population that chose more than one race, most chose one of the four most common combinations: 20.4 percent marked black and white; 19.3 percent chose white and “some other race.” The third most common pairing was Asian and white, followed by American Indian and white. These four combinations account for three-fourths of the total mixed race population.

That naturally drove me over to the Census site to see what those numbers might look like close to home.

Here's the total counts for the state and Harris County:

                            Texas             Harris
Total Population ..... 25,145,561          4,092,459
Multiracial ..........    319,558 (1.27%)     48,838 (1.19%)


And here's what the main drivers of those numbers are:

                                             Texas    Harris
Population of Two Race ...................  93.74%    92.92%
White; Black or African American            27.82%    25.42%
White; American Indian and Alaska Native    21.89%    13.03%
White; Asian                                24.89%    29.44%
TOTAL (TOP THREE) ........................  74.60%    67.89%


There were no other shares over 5% in any of the remaining categories.


Murdock Does Texas

The single wisest voice on the demographic changes that Texas is undergoing and the policy implications that we face in the years ahead ...

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