Salinas Catastrophe Revisited
March 16, 2005, 04:00 AM
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In December, I wrote a column about the fall of California's Central Coastal Valley city of Salinas.

The birthplace of great American novelist John Steinbeck was forced to close its libraries because of lack of funding. The primary reason: an influx of low-skilled illegal aliens that has destroyed Salinas' tax base. Now the Salinas City Elementary School District, running a $4.4 million dollar deficit, faces state takeover—the equivalent of bankruptcy. 

In a last ditch effort to save $2 million, the district sent out lay-off notices to 147 teachers—about 20% of the staff—and plans to increase class sizes to 36 students, creating a terrible teacher: pupil ratio. Using comparative statistics from 1992-1993 to 2003-2004, consider that:

  • The district's Hispanic student population increased to 76.2 percent from 57.6 percent.


  • The percentage of English learners rose to 44.2 percent from 27.9 percent..


  • Students receiving free and reduced-priced meals increased to 70.8 percent from 54 percent.

Floods of poor, non-English speaking students threaten the viability of not only Salinas schools but schools throughout California.