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Are immigrants dragging down the public school system?

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Posted: Saturday, June 19, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 11:15 am, Thu Jul 22, 2010.

When I grew up in California during the mid-1950s, the state's proudest achievement was its outstanding public school system. Now, 50 years later, K-12 is a disaster with little hope for improvement over the short term.

The findings of the Center for Immigration Studies' recently released report titled, "A State Transformed: Immigration and the New California," aren't shocking to teachers and parents who have personally experienced California's education system. But to read the dismal statistics laid out in black and white about California having the least-educated workforce of all 50 states is profoundly troubling.

The leading culprit in California's fall from grace is immigration, both legal and illegal.

Despite having spent hundreds of billions of dollars since 1970 to school immigrants and their children, California ranks last in an evaluation of its workforce's educational level.

Between 1970 and 2008, the share of California's legal and illegal immigrant population tripled, growing from 9 percent to 27 percent. The demands on our schools increased accordingly. Ultimately, teachers were overwhelmed.

Historically, as the report's author, Dr. Steven Camarota, discovered, California was not a state with disproportionately large unskilled and low-income populations.

Relative to other states, it had one of the more educated labor forces in terms of its share of workers who had high school diplomas, and ranked seventh in that category.

But today, California ranks 50th and has the largest share of its labor force that has not completed high school. This decline corresponds directly with a sustained immigration increase.

While some employers in the agriculture and service industries argue that a continued stream of unskilled immigrant workers is desirable, it does not serve the common good.

The low level of educational attainment in the state is likely to create challenges in California for the foreseeable future.

As the Center for Immigration Studies somewhat surprisingly points out, legal immigration is a more important factor shaping California than is illegal immigration. Findings made by the Department of Homeland Security indicates that about three-fourths of California's immigrants are in the state legally.

According to the study, if only native-born persons were considered, California would rank 25th instead of last.

In 2008, 5.6 percent of natives in the California labor force had not completed high school. When immigrants are counted, 16 percent of the state's labor force is made up of persons who have not completed high school.

Alarmingly, absent a change in immigration policy, large numbers of less-educated immigrants (legal and illegal) will arrive and settle in California, adding to an already large unskilled work force.

Worse, there is no indication that California will close its educational gap with other states.

The state ranked 35th in terms of its share of 19-year-olds who have graduated high school. Of 19-year-old immigrants in California, 28.1 percent have not graduated high school. Among them, 63.4 percent are immigrants or are the children of immigrant fathers or mothers.

The most sobering statistic of all is that of adult immigrants who arrived in California in 2007 and the first half of 2008, 30.8 percent (91,000) had not completed high school.

Given the large number of unskilled immigrants being added to the state and the relatively low rate of high school completion among its 19-year-olds just entering the labor force, it's probable that California will remain one of the least-educated states in the country for a long time, if not indefinitely.

As I have written since my opinion column first appeared in the Lodi News-Sentinel about 10 years ago, federal immigration policy may benefit the individuals who come to California seeking a better life. And lax immigration enforcement increases the profits of unscrupulous employers who take advantage of a labor force that has few options.

But the majority of Californians have not benefited from immigration. An uneducated populace cannot be productive.

Joe Guzzardi retired from the Lodi Unified School District in 2008. He now lives in Pittsburgh, Pa. Contact him at

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • posted at 10:13 am on Sat, Jun 26, 2010.


    so the "Christian Billy Maze" got front page and was available to view and post comments about online, but where is the front page article about "take our jobs"?

  • posted at 2:19 pm on Fri, Jun 25, 2010.


    richyorn OOps-- I forgot canning. We have LOTS of people in town with the same exact name AND Social Security number. I wonder why that is?

  • posted at 2:16 pm on Fri, Jun 25, 2010.


    rivchyorn- But I partially agree with you. ONE of the monsters is the illegal alien, the other is the monster who encourages for greed and is anti-competitive. The is anti-capitalist. What is fair about competing against a system that employees "free labor".Drive out in the fields near Thornton and get an eyeful. The workers won't talk to watch them. While the workers are saying manana---the faux employer is saying the same about pay, SOCIAL SECURITY TAXES and Federal and state witholding. Don't forget state Workers comp and SDI.The local industries that take advantage of these illegals includes agribusiness, building trades and construction. Surprise! Some GOB REQUIRE workers who don't "talk back" and you don't have to pay. Any lip from you and its La Migra! That's the Lodi way. I HAVE HEARD THIS.

  • posted at 2:08 pm on Fri, Jun 25, 2010.


    richyorn 12:16 I agree with some of what you said but disagree with the tone. I can give you SEVERAL local addresses where HUMANS/FAMILIES live ....illegal...but still humans. they work for shelter--- very rarely will they get REAL MONEY. Are they employees? Ask them--they think they are---while El Jefe' tells them what to do, how to do it, and when to do it.This is not employment and it is illegal. But what do our elected representatives do? It's called constituent service. This is NOT bribery...acoording to the law. The poor congressman is only looking out for the interests of his "constituents". As long as there is no QUID PRO QUO--- The game goes on---Repubs as well as Dems.I agree that the El JEFE's should be prosecuted for labor law violations and the worker/slaves be deported. Dems say NO! Repubs say NO! So you have the cycle of misery some more. I say BUST THEM BOTH.

  • posted at 7:25 am on Fri, Jun 25, 2010.


    Picture it like someone getting paid under the table, which I've actually been approached by a business owner to be a mattress delivery boy for him after high school which i checked out until i found out they wanted to pay me under the table.You see i would be driving their truck and handling their product but i would not be on any payroll meaning that if there were an incident they could simply deny my employment with their company. We bring them here by saying we'll hire you, yet when they take it and we are affected by it then ignore that we had any part in it and point the finger at them. Of course it's easier that way they are illegal and there fore have no rights since they are not citizens or even residents. had i taken that job i could have been in a bit of trouble. And the fact that i would not have been documented on their pay roll simply makes it their word against mine.

  • posted at 7:16 am on Fri, Jun 25, 2010.


    edumacation i never stated that you were a racist. What bugs me is the same thing that bugs your possibly Mexican relatives. It is not fun seeing others make a bad name for Mexicans who work hard nor is it right that just because there is a group that does things illegally that they be lumped with the rest. Also simply because they are here illegally which yes i agree is wrong and should not happen, that they are not all lazy and simply looking for a hand out. I'm surprised i didn't see it online but I'd like to see the outcome of the Take Our Jobs. The article echoed exactly what I've been trying to say in these blogs. The monster is always the illegal immigrants, who are apparently drug burdened, lazy, gang banging, rapists.Yet you never see a headline that says there's a problem with farm owners committing federal crimes by hiring illegals. I share the same cries as you do sometimes edumacation but the finger is always pointing to those who can not defend themselves.

  • posted at 1:45 am on Fri, Jun 25, 2010.


    Hit enter twice there SL, a little rattled are we?? :-))))!!

  • posted at 4:36 pm on Thu, Jun 24, 2010.


    Gator,Careful a strong man like that might deck one gawking at the wrong place. Sounds like you were doing quite a bit of gawking there.

  • posted at 4:32 pm on Thu, Jun 24, 2010.


    Gator,Sounds like you were doing a bit more than looking up to him. Careful a strong man like that might deck one gawking at the wrong areas.

  • posted at 1:47 pm on Thu, Jun 24, 2010.


    I look at all the P***ing and moaning going on here on these pages andall over our once great Country and I think I lived and grew up in the bestOf times.. Today I was inline waiting to check out and glanced at the personbehind me. He was about 6’4” and strong looking, then I noticed his ball cap.. Veteran WWII and Korea. I said you look in pretty good shape fora WWII vet. He said 84 and I’ve worked every day of it..I thanked him forhis service and left.. Those were the kind of people I looked up to when Iwas a kid. They don’t make many like that anymore and our country showsIt…

  • posted at 12:47 pm on Thu, Jun 24, 2010.


    Sam It likes like someone is afraid of the truth? They keep removing your posts. Libs need toquit taking themselves so seriously. Once their progressive communist buddies take over, who will vouch for them? They will have to PROVE they are atheists and in a culturally correct "race" first...It happens all the time. You can not have classical communism until it is synthesized from the dictatorship of the proletariat. The liberal cheerleaders will be in the first purge. Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin had their purges of devout followers and cheerleaders until they could redefine the party and its goals. Dictators don't like any dissent...or freedom of speech.

  • posted at 12:35 pm on Thu, Jun 24, 2010.


    Sam it looks like someone hates AMERICAN popular tunes from Dean Martin and Peggy Lee. Well here is a song from the noted reconquista and admitted communist website La Voz de Azlan. long, Texas! Hello, MexicoI'm gonna swim the Rio GrandeAt El PasoI'm leavin' tonightI ain't gonna packI'm only takin' the clothes on my backI'll drive a rattletrap carWith no liabilityI'll demand equal rights Though I'm there illegallyI'll protest in the streets'Til they finally grant 'emSing English wordsTo their national anthem By Johnny Tex

  • posted at 12:31 pm on Thu, Jun 24, 2010.


    I traveled all over Europe as a GI, not once did anyone let me get away with speaking just English…if I didn’t at least try to speak their language I was given very little help. I don’t see the US as separate from the rest of the world, I see the world wanting to be US like…even the Chinese. Moose: Being Native of Five Tribes, I see no hate speech here. If I missed it then specify it for me. Infering that people are supporting white supremacist ideals deserves specificity otherwise your comment is exactly what you speak of.

  • posted at 12:27 pm on Thu, Jun 24, 2010.


    Culture refers to a civilization, its mores, traditions, ethnicity, customs and the basic way of life. Their ethos, philosophy, their society. My point is their so-called leaders protest for this yet they do nothing to promote it. How about volunteering to help the new comers with the language, customs and philosophies of this host country instead. Instead of starting cottage schools and classes to improve the condition of their “cultures” (I pluralize cultures because they have MANY so-called cultures), they would rather run out in the streets and create some chaos, scare people with threats, threaten asinine boycotts and then run to the “white-boy” with their hands out for help.

  • posted at 11:41 am on Thu, Jun 24, 2010.


    richyorn- "...However is their a connection between the hiring of illegal immigrants who will work 12+ days for next to no pay simply because they wish to survive...?" YES---EVERY person who hires an illegal alien or RENTS to an illegal alien should be punished for 10-20 years. NO EXCEPTIONS! So we are in agreement about that. Show me your LEGAL papers that I WILL VERIFY. If the verification firm makes an error--_THEY ARE VIOLATING THE LAW.Here are a couple of factoids. It is well known that many building trades are filled with predominatly cash workers (illegal--No soc cec taxes or work comp) or illegal aliens with obvious phoney ID. Sometmes several have the same SSN and names. Employers need to be prosecuted to the MAX for a) hiring illegals and 2) cheating taxes.There are some landowners who effectively have SERFS. NO PAY for work---but free room or trailer, free water and electricity. Grow your own food. They need to be raided and arrested for TAX crimes and illegals deported.NO FREE RIDES. Work and receive benefits!

  • posted at 11:31 am on Thu, Jun 24, 2010.


    Richyorn--I may even have "latino" offspring---brown eyes black straight hair-- TYPICAL GABACHOS--and 100 % American. Are they "racist" because they abhor illegals? Its cultural not racial. If the culture is rotten, that does not imply the "race" is rotten. Libs love to use race baiting to get control of others. How can certified MEXICAN-Americans be racist for demanding only English be spoken, for hating gangs, drugs, tattoos, and so-called barrio (lazy) life?Listen to the #4 song on the Hit Parade sung by Peggy Lee- It is still TRUE TODAY. Let's sing together. The faucet it is dripping and the fence is falling downMy pocket needs some money so I can't go into townMy brother he ain't working and my sister doesn't careThe car it needs a motor so I can't go anywhereManana manana manana is soon enough for me

  • posted at 11:15 am on Thu, Jun 24, 2010.


    richyorn- 1) You never answered my question. Your response is of a typical guv-ment employee (not worker). Your answer smells like a gub-ment employee.2) I have interviewed hundreds of people who had NO useable skills, and no jobs duriong the great depression and ALL of them, every single one found their own way to success. Of course, there are always passive or selfish people who like to be a burden on everyone else. They are lazy, Greedy and selfish. 2) I have legal Mexicans in my family. all successful starting out as kitchen help at less than minimum wage. All are multi-millionaires and although they were once proud of their heritage, they are outspoken about the illegal sneaks and the squatters from Mexico. BTW they left the letter Z in their names, because it WAS not a bad thing to be from Mexico. Now they shudder when they watch these sneaks. They will NOT hire them unless they are LEGAL and WORK. Illegal aliens are effectively ON collect benefits from guilty liberals who tax the rest of us.

  • posted at 8:17 am on Thu, Jun 24, 2010.


    edumacation wrote on Jun 23, 2010 6:39 PM:" richyorn- ANYONE who can afford it will gladly hire a WORKER instead of a loafer.However is their a connection between the hiring of illegal immigrants who will work 12+ days for next to no pay simply because they wish to survive. The people that abuse the system of government welfare the most are the actual citizens of this country. It's all Greed but when it starts to catch up with us we point the finger at the immigrant as opposed to ourselves for wanting to profit of off them.

  • posted at 8:05 am on Thu, Jun 24, 2010.


    edumacation...your posts are just out of this world....with a complete lack of comprehension and understanding. First of all you respond to things that i never even claimed. I never claimed that Mexicans deserve hand outs. Also...the fact that there is never a lack of jobs. need i remind you of our very own great depression. Or the dust bowls? I would assume you would tell these individuals that their lack of a job was do to their own lack of diligence? Also you speak on hear say and sometimes just seem to pull comments that are so narrow minded and closed in that it becomes to sound paranoid. Really they are not accepting Asians into Elkhorn simply because you claim that you see very few? and it's always amusing to see how many times you will falsely assume things about me simply to try and support your already week theories.

  • posted at 7:54 am on Thu, Jun 24, 2010.


    Pat Maple wrote on Jun 23, 2010 6:13 PM:" Richy: Since English is the universal language, 90% of the foreigners learn English. Not here. Though you are correct you are only focusing on English. European countries often learn several languages because they live in very close quarters with numerous language zones. America's closest language barriers are Canada to the north who are also predominantly English speaking and Mexico to the South who speak Spanish. But we like to view ourselves as being separate from the world rather than a part of it. which touches on another thing i wanted to address.Pat i think you may have meant ethnicity, because the term culture by its self simply refers to shared qualities or a pattern of belief and behavior.

  • posted at 6:28 am on Thu, Jun 24, 2010.


    This is HATE speech promoting white supremacy.

  • posted at 2:51 am on Thu, Jun 24, 2010.


    its all about exploitation of low -cost labor in the name of increased PROFITS.That low cost labor comes in the form of illegal aliens...workers who have no voice, no rights, and no tax or financial accountability on the part of their employer. Its an age-old game, rather like slavery in some ways. The social chaos we now see is a direct result. I doubt we will ever solve it civilly. Only an utter melt-down and nationalistic backlash will eventually force change and it be ugly.

  • posted at 2:22 pm on Wed, Jun 23, 2010.


    Edu, the last time I took my Granddaughter to and from Elkhorn I saw a good number of Asian Students. I suggest you Read Mexifornia a land ofbeginning.. Victor Davis Hanson.. It just shows what can be accomplished by Latin Students when the have the right guidance.. He was a professor at Fresno State and a Senior Fellow at Stanford.. He also points out thatmany will be here 30 years and still do stoop labor and can’t speak a wordof English…

  • posted at 1:39 pm on Wed, Jun 23, 2010.


    richyorn- You must be a guvment worker. NO one owes you a living an income or a job. If you don't have a job, make up your own. It is NEVER lack of work...there is always work to Mexico or the USA. I guarantee YOU, if you want a job start WORKING, in a very short time someone will be shocked watching YOU work productively. You just got hired! ANYONE who can afford it will gladly hire a WORKER instead of a loafer.This is the key to unemployment. If you are unemployed shut up and start working ANYWHERE. There are so few workers around YOU will be hired by someone ...the loafers and jokers will hate you. Liberals will loathe you---they need lazy people who NEED them and who can give them power with my tax money.

  • posted at 1:31 pm on Wed, Jun 23, 2010.


    richyorn- Edumacators whine about the poor latinos and their lousy academic performance. They blame it on: "No opportunities", they don't speak English, they are poor and parents do not work.Here is a response they hate to hear: Other LEGAL immigrants have the same problems only worse. Instead of hte SAME alphabet, they have to learn a whole new way of thinbing and expressing themselves with letter symbols that relate to communication symbols that are not in their culture. YET, these same poor, uneducated second language learners are among Punjabi's, Pakistani's, Philippino's and these people consistently EXCELL with the same isues "holding them back". But for some does not prevent them from being valedictorians and scholarship winners. Why is that?It is a squatter culture (paracaidistas) that takes and does not give, that extorts and does not lead. They get what they earn.This includes the FREEBIES and giveways the latino children receive for having "latino" parents.Any other non-hispanic immigrant child faces MORE obstacles, not fewer.Elkhorn recruits latino students who don't meet intellectual standards yet rejects Asian students. Ask their parents!

  • posted at 1:13 pm on Wed, Jun 23, 2010.


    Richy: Since English is the universal language, 90% of the foreigners learn English. Not here. I want to know who did all of the hard jobs BEFORE they became so hard that white people wouldn't do them?? I still do mine and see many white people doing theirs...when my parents came here during the depression, they lived in trailer camps (the one they lived in still exists in Woodbridge), chicken coups, camps and other places. My mother picked grapes, cherries, tomatoes, cotton, oranges, apples, peaches and a host of other fruits and vegetables, just so we could have some extras. My father put roofs on for over 50 years...I still do. NEVER once did they take "handouts, gimmes, or freebies". The opposite was true. The Hispanic community needs to step up to the plate and help their own...after all it is their culture, not mine.

  • posted at 8:04 pm on Tue, Jun 22, 2010.


    edumacation wrote "Many of our visitors from Mexico are here on a VACATION from work, responsibility and accountability.The manana mentality is what is taking these people down the educational toilet."..did you really just say that Mexican immigrants are fleeing their JOBS in Mexico and abandoning their "responsibility"?i'm sorry but where exactly did this insight come from. Last time i checked individuals such as yourself were claiming that these immigrants were taking the jobs of "hard working Americans" Now yes i agree with Joe to an extent however the education system in CA over all is highly flawed.And yes the prior education of the immigrant students has a dire affect on their overall success in the school system. And of course the language barrier doesn't help one bit.I fully believe that any one coming to the states with the intent of staying should learn English.However to assume that we should only know English is very pretentious on our part. Other countries are far ahead of us in this area. It is mandatory in some cases that students learn a foreign language

  • posted at 5:05 pm on Tue, Jun 22, 2010.


    Joe- Your argument is compelling, and I agree with most assumptions but one. Today, if you objectively look at first generation students---legal or not, you will see another variable that we all see, but never talk about!If you analyze K-12 student immigrants from India, China, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines, you will notice that as SECOND language and second alphabet learners, they excel at academic tasks. I won't speculate a genetic anamoly, but I see a cultural pattern. Compare gimme gimme handouts and sneaking across the border to accountability and responsibility. Many of our visitors from Mexico are here on a VACATION from work, responsibility and accountability.The manana mentality is what is taking these people down the educational toilet.Excuses piled on excuses...they don't even show creativity in their lies.A self-described latino political leader told me that illegal aliens from Mexico are fighhting a war of attrition. They are good baby factories, but let out liberal guilt foot their bills. The day any of these kids complete school- at any grade, should be the day their parents receive the bill for it.

  • posted at 12:10 pm on Mon, Jun 21, 2010.


    The simple answer is YES. We can debate the numbers all day long...Guzzardi did a good job of that...the solution is a different matter entirely. Instead of spending their energy protesting, the Hispanic community should be looking for ways to help alleviate the problems. Throwing money at it will not help. I have posted many times here about what the Hispanic community needs to do. I watched the ESL/ELL/ELA programs waste good teachers and these type of programs for 14 years. They have been around for much longer and have proven to be ineffective and too costly. It isn't just the students who need to learn the is the parents also. The parents become too dependent on their children as interpreters and often as additional family income. Thus the horrendous drop-out rate for Hispanic students. The Hispanic communities needs to step up to the plate.

  • posted at 7:49 am on Mon, Jun 21, 2010.


    Stella, the truth is that since prop 13 passed, per pupil spending in California has doubled (adjusted for inflation). Ask any teacher, the illegals in our schools ARE a major part of the problem. The schools are getting plenty of money.

  • posted at 5:58 am on Mon, Jun 21, 2010.


    more than any other one thing ruining our great nation, i'd say it's the progressive movements that is lowering our standards in many ways. everything from open border mentalities, health care is a right. special interest groups. unions. big govt equals less freedoms. vote progressives out of office. decrease govt. decrease spending. decrease taxes. conservative constitutional common sense solutions

  • posted at 3:38 am on Mon, Jun 21, 2010.


    Prop 13 was not a selfish act of adults! It was a safeguard for families to be able to live in a home without being taxed out of the home. The schools survived fine, but the many that want things for free are ruining our nation.Taxpayers are footing the bill for a few that will not be responsible.Out sourcing and not having anything to purchase from the USA, only China is killing our nation. That is cheap labor.Boycott Chinese products!! Buy made in America!

  • posted at 2:23 am on Mon, Jun 21, 2010.


    Immigration didn't "ruin" the California school system, Prop 13 did, dismantling school funding and cutting budgets to the point California's gold standard for education became tarnished and broken. So, blame this one on selfish adults, not children brought into this country (therefore lacking in the mens rea or intent to commit the crime of illegal immigration.)

  • posted at 1:03 am on Sun, Jun 20, 2010.


    Three points.1 - And this is news how? Diversity is great if you are trying to destroy a country.2. The "Courts" didn't overturn 187, that was a single Federal Judge and then the failure of the Gov Davis to follow up with an appeal that killed 187. The direct blame for ignoring the will of the people lies squarely with the progressive democrat governor. 3. Corporate America and the agribusiness would do just fine. The price of goods may rise a little but the amount of taxes we would have to pay would be dramatically lower. In the end it would be a money wash and the level of division and strife in this country would be considerably lower.

  • posted at 5:34 pm on Sat, Jun 19, 2010.


    Unfortunately corporate America, agriculture and the canning, baking and manufacturing industries can't survive without the exploitation and cheap sub-standard labor and no benefit labor of these same illegals.

  • posted at 2:03 am on Sat, Jun 19, 2010.


    One can only wonder if the bill that blocked illegal immigrants from attending school had not been overturned by the courts, would the statistics be different when it comes to our schools achievement rate? Looking at the word "illegal" vs. "legal" for education purposes (and other elements of society) should be a concern of all taxpayers. We can be the country or state of opportunity, but we also must expect those to contribute back to our society to keep our level of productivity, safe guard our laws of a civil state and nation, and protect our integrity of staying a nation that has led the world due to hardwork by all, not by handouts.

  • posted at 12:10 am on Sat, Jun 19, 2010.


    I agree with you one-hundred percent, Joe. I find it hard to understand what it is about the word “illegal” that the majority, including those who should be familiar with the originally written immigration laws. I personally know hard-working and educated legal immigrants who, right along with the rest of us, suffer backlash from the debacle caused by our current lax in enforcing the very legislations that were meant for the betterment of “for the people.” The original good intentions have since turned into noting but disaster for California, a once beautiful and desirable place to live. It saddens me, because I feel we can expect nothing but more of the same in the future.


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