Wednesday, March 29, 2017

In Wake of Rockville Rape, School Superintendent Accuses Parents of Racism

In the wake of an alleged brutal rape at Rockville High School in Maryland by two illegal aliens last week, Montgomery County Superintendent Dr. Jack Smith is accusing parents of racism and xenophobia. He also claims threats are being made against students and schools.

"While I know this tragic incident has become part of a national political debate, I want to remind community members that the lives of real students have been forever affected," Smith sent in an email Thursday morning. "While many have chosen to engage civilly in the conversation, far too many have crossed the line with racist, xenophobic calls and emails. MCPS is working with law enforcement to identify those who are making threats toward our students and schools. This behavior will not be tolerated in our community."

Nowhere in the email was it mentioned the suspects are in the country illegally, with at least one facing deportation.

Parents have been protesting outside of Smith's office in recent days and did not mince words about the situation during a public meeting Tuesday night. One parent said he took his daughter out of school last year because of an unsafe environment.

Smith avoided questions about the alleged sexual assault for days and had to be confronted by a reporter in the parking lot outside of his office before finally answering questions. He is in charge of 204 schools in the district.

Meanwhile, Republican Governor Larry Hogan is demanding answers.

"Why is an 18-year-old man in a class with 13 or 14-year-old girls? Why was his status not known to those folks? Why was he allowed to enter the country after he was picked up for illegally crossing the border—both of them? So there are a lot of questions,” Hogan told Fox 5. "My biggest concern is the Montgomery County School System and their lack of cooperation and the lack of information they've been providing. Not only have they refused to provide any information to us, but they've refused to provide information to the state Board of Education, which specifically requested more information."


The Consequences of Immigration for America’s Public Schools

It is difficult to overstate the impact that immigration is having on our nation’s schools.

In a recent report based on Census Bureau data authored by myself and colleagues Bryan Griffith and Karen Ziegler, we map the profound impact immigration has had on schools across the country.

We find that nationally, nearly 1 in 4 students in public schools is now from an immigrant household (legal or illegal). The number of children from immigrant households in schools is now so high in some areas that it raises profound questions about assimilation.

What’s more, immigration has added enormously to the number of students who are in poverty or speak a foreign language.

All of this has occurred with little debate over the capacity of our schools to educate and integrate these students into our culture.

As recently as 1980, just 7 percent of public school students were from immigrant households, compared to 23 percent today.

High-immigration states have seen even more dramatic increases: 8 percent to 35 percent in Nevada, 11 percent to 34 percent in New Jersey, and 10 percent to 31 percent in Texas. Even in states that are not traditional immigrant destinations, such as Minnesota, Alaska, and Kansas, 1 in 7 students are now from an immigrant household.

As large as the growth at the state level is, the local impact can be astonishing.

The Census Bureau divides the country into Public Use Micro Areas, each containing roughly six to 10 high schools.

Immigrant households are very concentrated: Just 700 of the nation’s 2,351 Public Use Micro Areas account for two-thirds of students from immigrant households, but only one-third of the total public school enrollment.

There are many Public Use Micro Areas in which the overwhelming majority of students are from immigrant households—for example, 93 percent of students in North Central Hialeah City, Florida, are from immigrant households, as are 91 percent in the Jackson Heights and North Corona parts of New York City, 85 percent in the Westpark Tollway neighborhood of Houston, and 78 percent in Annandale, Virginia.

In the top 700 immigrant-heavy Public Use Micro Areas, one sending country typically predominates. On average, the top sending country accounts for 52 percent of students from immigrant households in these areas.

So not only do students from immigrant backgrounds often live in high-immigration areas, they often come from immigrant communities that are not very diverse.

Immigrant households also add disproportionately to the number of disadvantaged students.

In 2015, 30 percent of all students living below the poverty line were from immigrant households, making it unlikely that tax revenue grows correspondingly with enrollment in areas of high immigration.

Immigrants often settle in areas of high poverty, adding to the challenges for schools in these areas. In the 200 Public Use Micro Areas with the highest poverty rates in the country, where poverty among students averages 46 percent, nearly one-third of students are from immigrant households.

Immigration has also added enormously to the population of students who speak a foreign language. In 2015, nearly 1 in 5 students in the country spoke a language other than English at home.

It is not just a simple matter of straining community resources. Perhaps the most important issue raised by these numbers is assimilation.

One way that assimilation works is that the predominance of natives and their children in a school, town, or neighborhood makes the absorption of American culture and identity almost inevitable among immigrants and their children.

If immigrants are a modest share of the local population, it makes identifying with America and its culture practically unavoidable.

But the level of immigration, most of it legal, has been so high in the last four decades that there are now whole sections of the country where U.S. natives and their children are actually the minority or nearly so. This may threaten assimilation.

Of course we need to provide education for children from immigrant households already in the country. Nearly 1 out of 4 children in public school is from an immigrant household, so how these children do is vitally important not only to them, but to the country’s future.

Moreover, the overwhelming majority of children in immigrant households were born in the United States, making them automatic U.S. citizens.

A key immigration policy question for our nation going forward is whether it makes sense to continue to admit 1 million legal permanent immigrants each year, and to tolerate widespread illegal immigration, without regard to the absorption capacity of our schools.

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton’s recent bill, for example—which would reduce the chain migration of family members and increase the share of legal immigrants who are selected based on skills—is a promising reform to consider.


The Astronomical Cost of Higher Education

To demonstrate the outrageous nature of college education costs, consider a new study from the Institute for Higher Education Policy as reported in MarketWatch: “The study took 10 fictional students with incomes ranging from $2,706 for a student living independently from his parents to $162,995 for a student living with her family and calculated whether they could afford the net price — tuition minus any grant and scholarship aid — at more than 2,000 schools. What did they find? Even a student from a family earning more than $100,000 a year could only afford 41% of the schools. Students from poorer backgrounds couldn’t afford more than 90% of the colleges.”

Unfortunately, leftists keep pushing the wrong prescriptions for addressing this. Even “free” enrollment doesn’t cut it for some. In California, for example, lawmakers' solution to escalating debt is to expand aid coverage. According to Fox News, “California lawmakers are pushing what could be the most comprehensive college aid program in the country, pitching a bill that not only covers tuition payments but other expenses like books and transportation.” That’s a horrible way to make higher education more “affordable,” because it just means taxpayers pick up even more of the tab. And once that happens, tuition inflation is free to run more wild than it already has.

We could begin rectifying the problem by first recognizing that government involvement is the problem. Taxpayer dollars function as fuel for an out-of-control fire — that fire being escalating college fees. As economist Thomas Sowell has noted, “In a normal market situation, each competing enterprise has an incentive to lower prices if that would attract business away from competitors and increase its profits.” Universities function quite differently, and the result is enormous tuition. Students will need to determine if their safe spaces are worth it.


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