Texas Republicans may have reduced their ethnically tinged rhetoric and overtly anti-Hispanic legislation this session, but a new poll shows that border Hispanics are taking equal offense to cuts in Public Education. The survey conducted by Latino Decisions and released by the Texas State Teachers Association, interviewed 400 Latinos in 3 major Hispanic populations centers along the Texas-Mexico border: El Paso, Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley.
The results found that 67% of respondents were aware of the cuts made in 2011, and the specific local consequences most commonly identified were fewer teachers, crowded schools and cuts to after-school and extracurricular programs. Using the Rainy Day Fund to restore the funding was supported by 75%. According to Sylvia Manzano, senior analyst at Latino Decisions not a single positive outcome from the cuts was cited. “The question was open-ended, but no one mentioned lower taxes, spending efficiencies, or any local condition that might justify the action,” she said.
The survey revealed strong personal connections between the Latino communities and their local public schools with over 82% participating in school-sponsored public events. Texas has a Hispanic population of 9,533,000 (38%), 69% which are native-born, 77% have or have had children in the public school system and 48% of all Texas students K-12 are Hispanic.
The concern by Hispanic parents extends beyond primary education. The survey showed that over 90% would prefered to see their child receive a college degree than vocational training, and 85% say it is more important for their child to attend college, than it is to secure a full time job.
Hispanics are the fastest growing segment of the population, and it is easy to sympathize with their frustration of watching the state legislature defund education when it is so integrally tied to the next generation's chances at success. Those frustrations will continue to manifest into electoral power as the state's demographics shift. In 2012 there were 3 House Republicans who were replaced by Hispanic Democrats, and by 2016 Texas will have an additional 900,000 newly eligible Hispanic voters.