Friday, August 23, 2013

True Immigration Reform

As an immigrant to America myself, I am in favor of legal immigration to our country but draw the line with illegal aliens.  We have to recognize that people enter our country for different reasons.  Many illegal immigrants come here to destroy our nation whether it is by becoming a burden to society financially or by attacking America by acts of terrorism. To suggest that all illegal immigrants are hard working, decent individuals who want to embrace America’s history and traditions is to present only the most favorable side of the issue.  Unfortunately, beneath the screams of equality for everyone coming from pro-amnesty groups, it becomes easy to forget that illegal immigrants are here by breaking the law.
To be sure, our federal government has done a horrific job of enforcing laws to protect our borders.  It is true also that we need to reform our immigration system.  Yet, is giving amnesty and a pathway to citizenship to 11 million illegal immigrants in the country today the right answer?  The government seems to think so.  Indeed, the Immigration Reform Bill (S744) that passed the Senate in June would ensure amnesty for not only the 11million illegal aliens today (a jump from the 3.2 million in 1986) but also to any illegal aliens who come to our nation in the future. Although, there were suggestions to enforce “new” laws to protect the nation’s borders, S744 gave all the power to implement them to the Department of Homeland Security – an unconstitutional bureaucracy created by the federal government.  If our elected officials were truly interested in securing the nation’s borders, they should first implement the laws already in place completely instead of creating more regulations and giving more power to the federal government.
Furthermore, instead of demanding amnesty for the illegal aliens, our leaders need to end the welfare system that draws many illegal immigrants to our country in the first place.  A study done by the Center for Immigration Studies states, that in 2009, 71 percent of illegal immigrant households with children used at least one welfare program.  Moreover, a low-income household with at least one illegal immigrant was more likely to qualify for Food Stamps compared to a similarly low-income household where all family members were citizens.  Yet, instead of eliminating a source that pulls lawbreakers into our nation, the federal government wants to reward them for their actions by offering them access to welfare programs paid for by the American taxpayers.   
The right to vote is a privilege that is dear to American citizens. Most legal immigrants who come to our country follow our laws to get here and work methodically to become naturalized citizens.  Some of them have waited up to 15 years to come to America, meanwhile, 11 million illegal aliens are already here and partaking of our nation's opportunities and benefits.  Shocking as it may seem, legal immigrants make sacrifices to get here too but pro-amnesty supporters often conveniently forget this fact.  For all the noise about giving amnesty to illegal aliens to keep families together, what about the families of legal immigrants who are left behind?  Are we to believe that legal immigrants are incapable of missing their families and friends? 
To be sure, some illegal aliens work hard but legal immigrants are hard working people too.  Do they not contribute to our society as well?  Do they not bleed?  Do they not cry?  Do they not have dreams, ambitions, and hopes for a better future for themselves and their children?  Unfortunately, when it comes to immigration reform, legal immigrants make a poor political statement for the power hungry peddling politicians; therefore, their stories often remain untold.  
Additionally, at a time when 7.4 percent of Americans are unemployed, do we really need to give a blanket amnesty and pathway to citizenship to illegal aliens? Should the focus of our government be on serving illegal aliens or Americans? Should it be on allowing our stale economy to grow? When jobs are scarce, how is adding an influx of people to our country going to improve the nation's economy? S744 states illegal aliens would improve the economy by creating jobs for Americans.  Many illegal immigrants are low skilled workers, thereby; the idea that they would "create" jobs to grow the economy seems preposterous. The Senate bill also states that increasing immigration of high tech people would help the economy grow.  Yet, what would such an increase mean for high tech college graduates and Americans who are out of work?  The government is demanding too much from Americans who are already struggling. Jobs are scare or unstable, Obamacare looms above all and we are incapable of sustaining any more grand governmental schemes, especially those promoted under the guise of “reform.”    
If we are a land of immigrants, we are also a land of laws. Illegal immigrants have disregarded our laws and that should mean something to every American.  Not only is it our civic duty to protect our country for ourselves but also to ensure such protection for the next generation of Americans.  For if we are unwilling to defend our country and respect our laws, how can we expect others in the world to do so?  If our government refuses to enforce the laws by securing our borders then we must demand they do so.  If our government insists on giving amnesty and a pathway to citizenship to illegal invaders then we must hold our leaders accountable and deny them the privilege.  After all, how many other nations would gladly welcome illegal immigrants into their mix?  How many countries would provide for them often at the expense of their own citizenry?   How fair is it for our government to demand that we pay for these privileges for those who have no respect for our laws? 

If we are unwilling to tolerate an abusive relationship, why would we gladly tolerate a parasitic one?  Why should it be upon the American taxpayers to foot the bill for those who have chosen to come here illegally and live on subsistence provided by our tax dollars?  Lest we forget, it is the Americans who carry the load of not only providing for their own families but also supplying the demands of others, including, illegal aliens.  How much longer before the back of Americans finally breaks under the massive burden placed upon it by our government.
The Founders and Framers of this nation produced something wonderful.   They did so because they had the foresight to look beyond their years. They saw this moment in time and prepared for it---for us. Should we not try to do the same for our children?  The current immigration reform touted by many of our leaders gives too much power to the federal government.  It favors the demands of interest groups and yes, gives amnesty to illegal aliens. The people this reform affects most are the taxpaying Americans who will have to endure the brunt of this oppression that will inevitably follow the loss of our liberty. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Marco Rubio at It Again

Just when you thought Senator Marco Rubio had spoken his last on amnesty for illegal aliens, he arrived to shake things up again this week.  Rubio became the face of the GOP’s comprehensive Senate immigration bill (S744) earlier this year.  With the successful passage of S744 from the Senate in June, Rubio disappeared from the radar (at least on the issue of amnesty).  Yet, he reappeared this week to warn Americans that a comprehensive immigration “reform” bill must pass immediately lest Obama decides to use his executive order and give blanket amnesty to illegal aliens.

Rubio (and his compatriots) continues to suggest that the majority of Americans agree that there is a labor shortage in the US.  It is unclear which poll Rubio quotes in his speeches, but according to a poll conducted by Pulse Opinion Research for NumbersUSA on August 8, nearly 70% of voters chose the answer that ‘adding more immigrant workers would increase job competition for unemployed Americans, making it harder for them to find jobs.’”  What is evident from Rubio’s claims is that he still supports a comprehensive immigration plan that includes amnesty for illegal aliens.  It is also obvious that concern for the economy and well-being of Americans is the last thing on Rubio’s mind.

When Rubio became mum on the subject of amnesty during the month of July, one felt that he might be mulling over his indiscretion (and political future).  His stand against Obamacare recently offered some reprieve.  Alas!  The resurgence of his push for amnesty for illegal aliens has wiped any doubt from the minds of many Americans who had earlier remained confused about his position on amnesty.  Rubio may possess the looks and charm that may draw the initial attention of many but in the end, sadly, he remains yet another peddling politician. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Hidden Agendas: Common Core

What do Obamacare, Common Core, and the Senate Immigration Reform Bill have in common?  Policymakers dashed to write and pass all of them to meet “deadlines.”  In the case of Common Core, “experts” claim that America’s educational system requires a “rigorous” overhaul to prepare our children for the “global economy.”  As such, these individuals have taken it upon themselves to prepare standards that would place American children at a competitive advantage with other “high performing nations” of the world.  Who are these “experts” you ask?  The Common Core Standards (CCS) hearing held in Indiana on Monday this week offers some insight.

In Indiana’s first of three hearings to discuss CCS, opponents and proponents informed Hoosier parents, teachers, and community members about the problems and advantages of CCS.  What became apparent early in the debate was that those in favor of CCS are in an almost desperate need to implement the program as quickly as possible.  Again, this is similar to the approach that experts have used to write the CCS in the first place.  According to Professor William Evers, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute, it took the writers of CCS a year “to produce a document of such complexity and it was not enough time.”  Indeed, Dr. Sandra Stotsky who served on the official Common Core Standards validation committee refused to sign off on CCS because she felt it was thrown together too quickly.  Stotsky also noted that CCS provided her with less than adequate amount of research to support its claims of providing students with the expertise necessary to attend a university program upon completion of high school.

On the other hand, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz believes in the superiority of the Common Core Standards over the current Indiana standards.  Ritz is willing to consider revisions for the mathematics section of CCS but feels that overall CCS would improve the quality of education for all Hoosier children.  When asked by Rep. Rhonda Rhoads about what would happen if all parties could not come to an agreement on CCS at the end of the hearings, Ritz noted that for her the question was not whether Indiana “should use CCS or not” but whether Indiana would need to “revise” anything on the CCS assessments.  In other words, Ritz’s appearance at the hearing on Monday had less to do with whether Indiana should withdraw completely from implementing CCS and more to do with how to “revise” it-which suggests that CCS is here to stay.

All of this leads to the question, why was there such an urgent rush to come up with a plan such as CCS?  Moreover, why is there an urgent rush to ensure the implementation of CCS?  If experts in Indiana are concerned about the educational standards of Hoosier children, should we not perhaps seek competent and intelligent professionals within the state?  Are we to assume that Hoosiers are incapable of working out solutions for Indiana?  Surprisingly, Pam Horne, Dean of Student Admissions at Purdue University seems to feel that CCS would be more beneficial for Hoosier children than standards that would call upon the expertise of individuals from perhaps her own institution.  What is the cause of this discrepancy and disconnect with fellow Hoosiers?  To answer this question, it is important to refer back to the Obama Administration’s Race to the Top initiative that granted federal funds to states that implemented CCS.  (I have written extensively on this previously on my BLOG and you can read more about it here). 

Dr. Flora Reichanadter of the Franklin Township offered her testimony at the hearing in support of CCS stating that, “time and resources have already been spent” and that there is “no room for indecision.”  Reichanadter’s desperate plea shows less concern towards the future of Hoosier children and more towards the “time and resources” that were spent on CCS.  If these “experts” are truly concerned about our children, then why do they make deals behind closed doors only informing Americans after the fact? 

Furthermore, for proponents of CCS who continue to claim that it is a “state driven program,” why do the states only have a 15% opportunity to revise the CCS standards?  If CCS was state-driven, should it not be conforming to the standards set by Indiana instead of the other way around?  In his statement, Evers noted that, “Common Core Standards are rigid in structure.”  He said, for example, Algebra “cannot be moved from 9th grade to 8th grade.”  It is interesting to note that the high performing nations, such as China or Singapore show that students in these countries have a solid grasp of Algebra by 8th grade.  Rep. Rhoads also asked the experts how student assessment would occur if Indiana revised 15% of CCS but the response to that question was vague at best.  Kathleen Porter-Magee of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute replied that Indiana might use whatever assessments it wanted.  Yet, this does not solve the problem of how Indiana would tackle two (or more) separate assessments and additionally the assessments for CCS required for all students if it decided to revise 15% of CCS.

At another point in the hearing, Senator Scott Schneider asked Jeffrey Zimba of the nonprofit Student Achievement Partners and a lead writer of the Common Core math standards if he knew whether the high performing countries were using the same standards.  Schneider had to ask the question repeatedly because Zimba was unable to give a direct answer.  After much pussyfooting around the question, he eventually said, “they do not produce the same.”  Schneider also asked if the high performing countries collaborated on their education standards and Zimba responded “probably” but was unable to give a proven answer backed by research.  Indeed, when asked by Schneider if he knew where the US ranked in education, Zimba was clueless.  Yet, these experts are to make decisions about our children’s future.   

Perhaps the most important revelation of the hearings on Monday came from Professor of History, Terrence Moore of Hillsdale College who noted that CCS undermines the significance of our historical documents.  For example, CCS does not recommend students read and analyze the US Constitution.  Under CCS, The Federalist Papers are insignificant.  Indeed, they are not even on the reading list.  CCS recommends only reading the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.  Furthermore, CCS recommends students should read the Declaration of Independence but only to answer, “compare and contrast questions” not to analyze the significance of this great historical text. 

Reading of complete literary texts such as Tom Sawyer has no room under CCS either because it only recommends select passages from literary fiction.  The focus for CCS is instead on non-fiction reading that, according to Porter-Magee, would enlarge student vocabulary.  Perhaps, it has been a long time since Porter-Magee was a student but I know I would gladly pick up anything written by Jane Austen over an EPA pamphlet any day.    

If the point of CCS is to help students improve and become prepared for the “global economy” in the future then it fails miserably.  Lowering the bar on mathematics and the language arts is only part of the problem.  The bigger issue is what these standards will do to children to help them develop a love for learning.  When was the last time you saw a student excited about reading policy manuals over a literary text? 

To disregard that America has been a “global economy” from its inception is to confuse, nay, misrepresent historical facts.  To improve student performance, we do not need more standards but to enhance the learning experience for students so they can achieve success at home first and then in the world.  Benjamin Franklin, Abigail Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Mark Twain did not develop their full potential under the rigidness of instruction but in the freedom to explore the world.  Perhaps it is time that Americans start looking upon their own history and culture as a beacon of light instead of chasing after “global” perfectness.