View From Lodi, CA: Schwarzenegger: Immigration, California Public Schools and…Re-Election?
August 04, 2006, 05:00 AM
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Pity poor California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He's in for a long grind between now and November 7th unless he stops his double speak about the state's key issue, immigration.

Schwarzenegger was blind-sided in San Diego last week when, at one of his Town Hall meetings, a woman grilled him ferociously on border control and the lack thereof.

In response, Schwarzenegger said that he was taken aback at the emotional intensity of the crowd's demand to end illegal immigration. Mood on illegal immigration surprises governor He also backs away from previous support of Prop. 187, By Carla Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle July 26, 2006

Where has he been? Immigration has been headline news all summer. Every whistle-stop Schwarzenegger makes in California for the next three months will bring the same heated comments.

Schwarzenegger's waffling hurts him. Since he assumed office after the 2003 Recall Gray Davis election, Schwarzenegger has been for and against Proposition 187; for and against the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps; for and against amnesty and for and against illegal immigration.

But Schwarzenegger's defense of his Prop 187 flip-flop (he now rues his 1994 'Yes' vote cast as a private citizen) caught my eye.

According to Schwarzenegger, he changed his mind when he worked with illegal immigrants' children in after school programs.

Strange…I work in after school programs too but I come away with a different and more compassionate view of what must be done.

If you ask me, no argument to control illegal immigration is more compelling than to insist that we stop the in-flow to take care of the struggling children already here. That's compassion.

Here are some of the conditions that should have jumped out at Schwarzenegger on his school visits: overcrowding, inadequate facilities, shortage of credentialed teachers and under-performing students.

Maybe Schwarzenegger is unaware of California's acute academic crisis.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education, empowered by the No Child Left Behind Law, threatened again to withhold millions of dollars in federal school aid from California unless, upon parental request, students transfer out of low-performing sites to non-failing schools. A low performing school is defined as one that does not meet its Adequate Yearly Performance Goal two years in a row.

California has many such schools; Lodi, several.

Although the NCLB requires that students in failing schools be given the option of attending elsewhere, there is no place for them to go. In Los Angeles alone, 250,000 students were eligible for transfers, but only a small percentage actually switched schools. Angry parents are threatening to sue.

Now the battle lines are drawn. Margaret Spellings, U.S. Education Secretary, has imposed an August 15th deadline for California to do the impossible or lose a good chunk of the $700 million it receives annually in Title 1 federal funds.

California officials predict a logistical nightmare if forced to comply.

Nevertheless, Schwarzenegger is willing to exacerbate California's K-12 mess by allowing more students into the system who are either illegal aliens or the children of illegal aliens. Those new pupils would be added to a core of 1.5 million English Language Learners already enrolled in California schools.

But the indisputable facts argue strongly against Schwarzenegger's pro-immigration sympathies, sincere though they may be.

Obvious is that new students compete directly with your child for precious educational resources. If that new student is a non-English speaker, then the competition is even keener.

If you insist on the dreary and depressing statistics to prove that illegal immigrants, especially from Mexico and Central America, lag in school performance, then cast your eyes on these facts compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics and reported on by VDARE.COM's Edwin S. Rubenstein: the status drop out rate in 2003 for 16-to 24-year olds not in school is four times as high for Hispanics as white, non-Hispanics and more than twice as high as blacks, non-Hispanics.

Why can't we educate those to whom we are already emotionally and financially committed before we take on the whole world?

Here's what really boils me about Schwarzenegger and his largesse with our public schools.

Of the five leading candidates in the 2003 Recall election—Gray Davis, Cruz Bustamante, Peter Camejo, Tom McClintock and Schwarzenegger, only Schwarzenegger sent his four children to private school.

JOENOTE TO VDARE.COM readers: Schwarzenegger is taking a huge gamble with his switch back to favoring 'comprehensive' immigration reform. His opponent, State Treasurer Phil Angelides, has exactly the same position.

On immigration, Schwarzenegger and Angelides represent death by fire or death by ice.

At the moment Schwarzenegger, a RINO, holds a modest 8-percentage point lead. But California is overwhelmingly Democratic. The MSM, the unions, the Democratic State Assembly, the Latino Caucus and Senators Boxer and Feinstein will certainly fight for and endorse Angelides.

Look for Schwarzenegger's lead to narrow over the summer with the race becoming a toss up by fall.

The best thing Schwarzegger has going for him is that the last incumbent California governor not to be re-elected was Democrat Culbert Levy Olson who lost the 1942 election to Earl F. Warren.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.