Like many millions of other immigrants, New Yorker Herman Badillo is living the American Dream. His new book, “One Nation, One Standard,” is a call to arms for Hispanics who are being shut out of that dream. So why are some of Mr. Badillo’s fellow Hispanic Americans now calling him a race traitor and bashing his book even before it was published yesterday?
first consider the credentials Mr. Badillo brings to his subject. He arrived in the U.S. as an 11-year-old orphan in 1941 and by 1970 was elected the first Puerto Rican-born U.S. congressman. Mr. Badillo has since been deputy mayor of New York under Ed Koch, run for mayor himself and was former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s counsel on education, eventually leading efforts to reform and restore to excellence the City University of New York system.
Out of this experience comes Mr. Badillo’s blueprint for immigrant success in America. The main focus of “One Nation, One Standard” is the Hispanic community, and his central theme is education, without which, he emphasizes, no amount of work or other opportunity will help a person rise. What’s got his critics in a tizzy is Mr. Badillo’s assertion that Hispanic parents cannot depend on the government to educate their children.
As a parent, I would insist that no parent can depend on the government to educate their child. In a true sense, education implies a formation on moral, intellectual and social values that transcends the classroom, and which can not be provided by a school.
In the case of immigrants, as I blogged about last year, prior generations of immigrants were directed towards what it meant to live in an American culture by school and other social institutions, and now schools purposely avoid doing that for the sake of multiculturalism.
Instead, he says, they must push their kids and rise up against a system that steers Hispanic and other minority children into segregated classrooms of designated underachievers.
As the results in California have shown with Hispanic children, it delays assimilation by perhaps a full generation. Those in “English immersion” have more than twice the rate of English proficiency of those in the “bilingual” system (being taught other subjects in Spanish while being gradually taught English).
However, school administrators who get funding for bilingual programs will place the children in those programs because it justifies their jobs and it generates funding. By doing so, they deny these children the means to success not only in our country but across the world.
The article on Badillo continues,
The critics have focused on a few phrases in the book noting that the Hispanic immigrant community has not always placed as high a value on education as, for instance, Asians have. This is not an insult and does not sound like one when you actually read his book.
It is not an insult – it is the truth.
As Mr. Badillo explains, the Hispanic cultural experience was formed in part by centuries of Spanish colonialism and the feudalism it spawned in Latin America, followed by decades of dictatorships and strongmen. This cruel legacy has imbued many people with a subconscious notion that stations in life don’t change, and a sense that help can only come through the luck of having a benevolent leader.
“One Nation, One Standard” calls on Hispanic Americans to throw off those mental shackles and claim the rights and opportunities that other citizens enjoy. His goal, he told us in an interview this week, is to sound an alarm that what is now the country’s major immigrant group is at risk of becoming the first such group not to follow the path of each generation doing better than the last.
After I left liberalism I’ve disagreed with many of Badillo’s politics, and I’m glad to see that he refers to himself as an ex-liberal. He’s right on the mark when it comes to education. The book is called One Nation, One Standard: An Ex-Liberal on How Hispanics Can Succeed Just Like Other Immigrant Groups, and I’ll be reading it.