Latino Groups Class Over No Child Left Behind Funding
Ohanian Comment: In a CREO background brief Angela Valenzuela provides information on how pro-voucher foundations such as The Walton Family Foundation and the Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation operate. And isn't it interesting that the U. S. Department is also handing out money to this group?
Hispanic CREO stages school choice rally; Texas LULAC says concerns of minority communities being hijacked
Two Latino groups clashed today over whether a lobbying effort in favor of school voucher legislation was funded with taxpayer dollars.
The Hispanic Council for Reform in Educational Options (CREO), a national non-profit organization, brought hundreds of Latino parents and students to the Capitol for a rally in support of school choice. Gov. Rick Perry and other Republicans spoke at the rally.
The League of United Latin American Citizens said it was illegal for Hispanic CREO to use grants it received under the No Child Left Behind Act for its lobbying efforts.
"Hypocritically, Hispanic CREO profit from governmental largesse while decrying so-called 'big government' that public schools represent," said Angela Valenzuela, Texas LULAC's education committee chair. "It is clearly insidious and under-handed."
Not so, said Rebeca Nieves Huffman, president of Hispanic CREO. Nieves Huffman said that although her group held 501c3 non-profit status, it could, through an 'H' Election, use a small percentage of its funds for lobbying. She said NCLB funds were not used for Tuesday's rally.
"We are not lobbying. We are here with the parents who are directly affected by the Legislature and these parents want school choice," Nieves Huffman said. "We are so careful about our No Child Left Behind money because it is a government grant. The parents here are not related to No Child Left Behind. That is complete misinformation."
NCLB includes money for local organizations to educate communities about tutoring options, remedial education and educational choice.
Marcela Garcini, Hispanic CREO's director of parental outreach in Texas, said her group has received $500,000 under NCLB. She said the money was being spent teaching Hispanic parents their rights under the federal act.
"That is totally different from our school choice movement," Garcini said. "Our accounts are so clear. The Department of Education audits our money and we never use the money to promote school choice."
In a press release titled ¡NO LO CREO! Texas LUALC said that despite the fact that NCLB has been "shortchanged by $8 billion," the Department of Education had "funneled" $40 million to a small group of right wing, anti-neighborhood school groups.
Valenzuela said Hispanic CREO got its start-up money in 2001 from the Walton Family Foundation and the Friedman Foundation. "Two leading right-wing foundations," she said.
Valenzuela said Hispanic CREO then received a $500,000 grant under NCLB in 2003, "even though it had no proven track record." She said it received the same amount in 2004, and, last October, was awarded a five-year $2.5 million grant from the Department of Education.
"Of course it would be illegal for Hispanic CREO to use any of that money for lobbying - for instance, by telling people to call their legislators in support or opposition to particular bills or to bring citizens to Austin for a pro-voucher lobby day," Valenzuela said. "So, who's paying for Hispanic CREO to be lobbying today?"
Garcini said Hispanic parents and students attending today's rally came from urban minority neighborhoods in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin. She said they were rallying in support of House Bill 1263, an urban school choice pilot program for certain students authored by Rep. Linda Harper-Brown (R-Irving).
HB 1263 was one of three pilot voucher bills being heard by the House Public Education Committee today.
"This bill will allow children in difficult situations, such as the victims of family violence, ESL students, to move out of low-performing schools," Garcini said. "This bill benefits our kids, not the wealthy kids."
Garcini disputed claims from the Coalition for Public Schools that voucher bills could drain billions of dollars from the state's public schools to pay for tuition at private and religious schools.
"That money does not belong to the school districts, it belongs to the children. The money must follow the children," Garcini said. "When you have more than 50 percent dropout, when you have only 3.1 percent of Latinos holding a BA degree, something is not correct."
Valenzuela said that while urban public schools are chronically under-funded, a coterie of well-funded organizations were trying to persuade minority communities that diverting funds from public education in the name of choice would benefit them.
"We believe that it is of the utmost importance that these organizations not be allowed to hijack the concerns of communities of color, which include their desire for genuine educational options that benefit their children," Valenzuela said.
Speaking at Hispanic CREO's rally, Perry said he wanted to let parents "liberate their children from poorly performing schools." Hispanic CREO supporters began the rally with chants of Si Se Puede.
Some Background on CREO by Angela Valenzuela
CREO – “¡NO LO CREO!”
Things you should know about Hispanic CREO,
its funding and its real agenda
The Hispanic Council for Reform and Education Options (CREO) held its first conference in 2001. According to its website, its founders were surprised that “there was not one Latino national organization dedicated solely to the Latino educational crisis or who was willing to speak out on behalf of parents and children.” So they founded CREO.
The key word is solely – organizations like the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the G.I. Forum and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund were working to improve educational opportunity in the Latino community when the grandparents of CREO’s founders were in diapers. How dare they claim to be the torchbearers in the struggle for educational equity.
Hispanic CREO may be concerned about the Latino educational crisis, but it’s not interested in fixing our public schools. Rather, their mantra is “educational choice,” which typically means diverting taxpayer dollars from neighborhood schools to selective, unaccountable for-profit or religious schools.
Hispanic CREO joins other right-wing groups and foundations in support of its destroy-the-schools-to-save-them agenda. Hispanic CREO got its start-up money from the Walton Family Foundation and the Friedman Foundation, two leading right-wing foundations.
• The Walton Family Foundation is rabidly anti-immigration and anti-affirmative action. For instance, they support the Institute for Justice, whose founder, Clink Bolick, wrote an anti-affirmative action harangue called The Affirmative Action Fraud: Can We Restore America’s Civil Rights Vision?
• The Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation is dedicated to school privatization. Friedman is a famous, free-market economist who was the first to advocate for private school vouchers. In 1995 Friedman wrote, “the privatization of schooling would produce a new, highly active and profitable private industry.” His first adherents were not free-market liberals, but white Southern states who sought through vouchers to evade school integration orders and maintain Jim Crow. Friedman’s academic work focuses more on the financial profits that school privatization could reap rather than the purported assistance it could offer low-income students in failing schools—the interest Hispanic CREO purports to represent. Sadly, Hispanic CREO exploits the legitimate needs and criticisms that poor families and communities have toward public schools in order to leverage support for their profit-friendly, anti-democratic aims.
And like many of its fellow travelers, Hispanic CREO decries Big Government while gobbling up its money. The federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act includes money for local organizations to educate communities about tutoring options, remedial education – and “educational choice.” Although NCLB has been underfunded since its inception, and this year’s (2005) budget provides $8 billion less than necessary, the Department of Education has funneled over $40 million to a small group of right-wing, anti-schools neighborhood groups.. Hispanic CREO has been a real beneficiary:
• it received a $500,000 grant in 2003, even though it was a start-up organization with no proven track record
• it received a $400,000 grant in 2004
• last October, it announced a five-year, $2.5 million grant it had received from the Department of Education
Of course, it would be illegal for Hispanic CREO to use any of that money for lobbying – for instance, by telling people to call their legislators in support or opposition to particular bills or to bring citizens to Austin for a pro-voucher lobby day. So, who’s paying for Hispanic CREO to be lobbying today?
Harvey Kronberg and Angela Valenzuela
Quorum Report and a background brief
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES