Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Impact on Education and American Life of Invasion

I know the title sounds harsh, but honestly I can't think of any other way to phrase it. I teach in a diverse district, in a diverse school. I honestly like all of my students as people, even the ones who behave in obnoxious teenaged ways. But you can't look at any school in the southern US without noticing how immigration, especially illegal immigration, has impacted the system. It became very clear to me this year, when I realized that the district in which I live is now majority/minority. Strangely enough, while that qualifies the district for some programs and mandates others, the district is getting further and further behind financially. There are a couple of problems that have created this situation and some of it has to do with illegal immigration.

The district in which I live straddles two towns and two counties. The older of the two towns has been around for forty years. It was one of the first suburbs, a bedroom community of blue collar workers. The area was zoned largely as single family homes and many of the original residents have bought and paid for their homes with the idea of having this, their largest asset, as collateral for a comfortable retirement. We are talking retired teachers and fire fighters and small business owners who must rely on their own to survive. The northern city is newer, but zoned for more apartments. Add to that the building of a new tollway and you have a corridor for travel that has attracted a number of people.

The first thing that happened is that the Dallas Housing Authority built public housing just outside the boundaries of these two towns. Although the facilities were nice, the children would end up in the neighboring towns' schools-which were already overcrowded. The cities begged Dallas not to build there, but the then head of public housing forced the issue into court. The results were that schools which were formerly suburban in feel suddenly had to deal with inner city crime. Drugs became more common as did domestic violence. As the prices for the nearby private homes and apartments came down due to the crime, these houses and apartments were bought and rented by companies that would then turn around and sublet the rooms to large groups of people. Many of these people were here without documentation-which is the PC term. I prefer to call it as it is-they have done something illegal by coming here without a visa or permit and therefore are illegal. In too many neighborhoods, rental houses were filled with multiple families or groups of young males. The burden on the schools in terms of free breakfast, Pre K classes, free lunches, ESL programs, health clinics was in no way compensated by the rent. Plus as the property values eroded, the tax revenue also dropped causing such things as road, sewer, water, street repair, park services to be forestalled or dropped altogether.

The increase in people who may have dangerous histories also increased the amount of crime, especially that related to gangs. Areas that had been middle class became war zones. People were either prisoners in their own homes or sold out for lower prices. In short, the massive uncontrolled influx of illegal immigrants has negatively impacted every social system. People who have lived their entire lives here are doing without basic social services because they can't even get through the lines. Elderly folks are seeing their investments in their homes vanish. This isn't a victimless crime, although there are those who would like to label it so. They are the same folks that like to scream "racism" and "bigot" every time they don't get their way. But wait a minute, this isn't about any specific race, this is about the SITUATION, which is one where someone has breached a law of another sovreign nation. In some countries they shoot you for things like that.

If we have finite resources such as water, food and land and allow uncontrolled overdevelopement of those resources, they go away, often never to return. That is the message environmentalists have been touting for decades. So why then is there so much silence from the same folks that eat organic foods and drive electric cars? I'd like to think it was simple naivete that they believe in their own superior way that the "simple peasant folks" would live some sort of primative back to the earth lifestyles. That isnt' why they are coming here. They could do that in El Salvador or Mexico or Ghana or wherever they came from. They want the glitter and glitz of the American Dream. I can't blame them for that but if you take a pizza and provide for a small crowd, it's not going to be the same sized slice if you provide for a larger one. If I were more cynical I would think that the liberal left was turning a blind eye to illegal immigration hoping to gain votes via Motor Voter and other silly acts that permit people to vote when they shouldn't.

But the endgame is this, when I speak to my friend who teachers ESL and is from Mexico City, she says that the kids coming in aren't just ignorant of English, but of Spanish, of reading, of math of everything except what they pick up on Univision. In short, they are chronically behind because their nation and many of their countrymen have shown that education isn't valuable. We spend tens of millions of dollars on bells and buzzers and programs and support for these students and all too often it's just a big stinky failure. They see no reason to learn because they can make a living on an underground economy that taxpayers are paying for. I have never begrudged someone who honestly needed help a handout, but this appears to more like locusts than wounded butterflies. It's time for Mexico to begin to take care of their own people. And by continuously allowing free passes into the United States, we are providing a social safety valve for our neighbor to the south. Things must change soon or we will be looking at an internal problem similar to what France is dealing with in regards to people who originated in the Middle East. When the USSR was in power, they always said they would conquer us from within. I am quite afraid that is what is happening now.

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