Salinas Catastrophe Revisited
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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.