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Latinos and marriage equality

You’ve probably seen some coverage by now of how African American views of marriage equality have shifted in its favor in the wake of President Obama’s announcement that he now supports it. But what about Latinos and their views?

On the right side of history

The recent news coverage and analysis of this issue has focused almost exclusively on comparing the marriage views of African Americans with whites, with an occasional nod to a broader group of “people of color.” This analysis inadvertently masks the views of Latinos, the nation’s largest and fastest-growing minority group. In fact, among the media’s coverage of new polls conducted and released following President Obama’s support of marriage equality, very few (if any) broke out the results based on Latino or Hispanic ethnicity.

Despite the absence of media coverage on Latinos and marriage equality, numerous surveys tell us that Latinos are by and large supportive of laws that extend the rights and responsibilities of marriage to same-sex couples. A 2011 survey of Latinos found that even then 54 percent supported full marriage equality, compared to about 53 percent of the general public at the time. This same survey found that Latinos who identify as Catholic support marriage equality at a slightly higher rate of 57 percent. Like the rest of the U.S. population, support for marriage equality was higher among Hispanic women than Hispanic men, and was lower for those Latinos who identified as members of the Republican Party.

Further, a 2010 survey by the Associated Press and Univision found stark generational divides among Latinos, just as in the general population. Specifically, younger-generation Latinos voice much higher support for marriage equality than older Latinos do.

But overall Latino support for equality extends far beyond marriage. One case in point: Latinos are very supportive of laws that protect against other forms of antigay* discrimination (note that these surveys didn’t ask questions specific to transgender rights). The aforementioned 2011 survey found that:

  • Eighty-six percent of Latinos support workplace discrimination laws that protect gay people
  • Eighty-six percent support housing discrimination laws that protect gay people
  • Eighty-three percent support hate crimes laws that protect gay people
  • Eighty-three percent support equal health care and pension benefits for same-sex couples
  • Seventy-eight percent support open military service

Further, the survey found that 67 percent of Latinos believe that gay people face either some or a lot of discrimination in the United States. At the same time, 65 percent of Latinos said that Hispanics themselves face similar rates of discrimination; 55 percent said the same for African Americans; and 47 percent for women. Also, 65 percent of Latinos said that gay people face some or a lot of discrimination from the Hispanic population itself—52 percent said that African Americans face similar levels of discrimination from the Latino population, and 48 percent said women did as well.

In addition to obscuring Latino support for marriage equality, the recent media focus on African Americans and marriage equality also ignores the fact that African Americans believe gay people face high rates of discrimination overall in America. In fact, African Americans largely understand that gay Americans face pervasive discrimination and are strongly supportive of laws and policies to end that discrimination—and they were supportive even when their opposition to marriage equality was significantly high.

A 2009 report and related polling from the Arcus Foundation, for example, found that 67 percent of African Americans opposed marriage equality at that time. But the same survey and polls found that 76 percent of African Americans thought that gay people overall face either a lot or some discrimination in America. Further:

  • Eighty-five percent of African Americans polled said that hate crimes are a problem for gay people
  • Eighty-three percent said school bullying is a problem for gay youth
  • Seventy-four percent said access to health care and pension benefits is a problem for same-sex couples
  • Seventy-four percent said job discrimination is a problem for gay employees and job seekers
  • Sixty-nine percent said housing discrimination is a problem for the gay population

If that’s not enough for you, the National Council of La Raza has endorsed marriage equality as well.

Eric Rodriguez, vice president of public policy for the National Council of La Raza, confirmed to the Blade that the vote took place on June 9 during a previously scheduled board meeting. NCLR did not provide a copy of the resolution, but Rodriguez stressed that there was little opposition to it.

“There was discussion for that period of time, but everyone really strongly that supporting what we had already put out there in terms of our statement was the right thing to do,” he said.

Former NCLR Board Chair Danny Ortega, a Phoenix lawyer whose term ended after the vote, provided broad details of the conversations that he said took place among the 25 board members before the vote.

“We had a discussion about this and clearly some people had more questions than others, but at the end of the discussion it was unanimous,” he said.

The resolution passed less than a month after the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons’ Board of Directors endorsed marriage rights for same-sex couples.

[…]

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund President Thomas A. Saenz has backed same-sex marriage. His organization has not only represented people with HIV in discrimination cases, but filed amicus briefs in support of lawsuits that challenge California’s Proposition 8 and other states’ prohibitions on nuptials for gays and lesbians.

The Texas chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens earlier this month also passed a same-sex marriage resolution during their annual convention. LULAC National President Margaret Moran joined Murguía, Saenz and other civil rights leaders who applauded Obama’s public support of nuptials for gays and lesbians.

Remember when marriage equality was going to be the wedge that fractured the Democratic coalition? So much for that. Sure, there is at least one prominent African American who has been unhappy with the President’s announcement, but I rather doubt that the bottom feeders at NOM will be adopting him as a spokesperson. American Progress link via NewsTaco, Blade link via Runnin’ Scared. Freedom to Marry has more.

Single member Council district dispute in Boerne

It's pronounced "Bernie"

I’ve noted several stories about single member Council districts in various Texas cities over the years. They often involve litigation, so these battles can have implications beyond the borders of the locality in question, but I just find the questions about why a given city should or should not change from an at large system to a district system to be fascinating. Anyway, for all those reasons when I came across this story about such a court fight going on in Boerne, which if you’re not familiar with it is a town of just over 10,000 people about 40 miles northwest of San Antonio, I had to click on it. In doing so, I found that it involved a couple of familiar names.

Although a recent court mandate has undone Boerne’s shift in 2010 to electing city council members by districts, city officials are resisting a return to cumulative voting — with the candidate filing period for the May election just weeks away.

“We’re pushing for single-member districts,” City Attorney Kirsten Cohoon said Wednesday after a hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio.

Boerne resident Mike Morton, who filed the suit over the change, argues that any deviation from the at-large election system mandated by the city charter must be approved by voters.

The City Council voted in late 2009 to enact voting from five districts by modifying a lawsuit settlement it struck in 1996 with the League of United Latin American Citizens.

LULAC had sued the city, claiming the at-large voting system disadvantaged minority voters.

The original lawsuit settlement in 1997 called for adoption of cumulative voting, which allows residents to cast as many votes as there are seats to be filled.

[…]

Garcia asked whether a charter amendment to enact single-member district voting could be put on the May ballot in Boerne.

Although Morton said he would drop his suit if such a vote occurred, LULAC attorney Jose Garza indicated his clients would sue if voters defeated such a measure and cumulative voting continued in use.

Yes, that’s Judge Orlando Garcia of the three-judge panel that drew the now-disallowed maps for Congress, State Senate, and State House, and Jose Garza, who just argued the plaintiffs’ case before the Supreme Court. I daresay it’s been a busy few months for both of these gentlemen. Boerne is the first city I’ve heard of to use cumulative voting. I’m wondering how you might run a campaign differently under those conditions. Anyway, the reason for the agreed change that’s now being litigated is that in the 14 years they had cumulative voting, only one Latino candidate was ever elected to anything. For what it’s worth, according to the Wikipedia entry, persons of Hispanic or Latino origin of any race were 19.44% of the population. You can see the proposed single member district map here – it’s one of the least gerrymandered maps you’ll ever see. Whether it would further LULAC’s goals or not I couldn’t say, but as I generally favor single member districts I’m rooting for them.

DC court denies summary judgment on preclearance

It’s official, the maps the Lege drew for itself and for Congress will not be used in the 2012 election.

A Washington-based federal court on Tuesday rejected Texas’ request to approve new political districts without a trial.

In a brief ruling, the court agreed with the U.S. Department of Justice that the GOP-led Legislature used an improper standard for determining whether the new districts discriminate against minorities. The order clears the way for a trial.

[…]

The ruling means temporary maps, being crafted by a San Antonio court, will likely be implemented in the interim to allow election workers and candidates to make necessary arrangements for next year’s primary elections.

You can see the short and sweet order here. As noted by Texas Redistricting, the court ruled as follows:

Having carefully considered the entire record and the parties’ arguments, the Court finds and concludes that the State of Texas used an improper standard or methodology to determine which districts afford minority voters the ability to elect their preferred candidates of choice and that there are material issues of fact in dispute that prevent this Court from entering declaratory judgment that the three redistricting plans meet the requirements of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

Remember, the state sued in the DC court because they’d get a better deal than the Justice Department. They also thought, or at least they believed AG Greg Abbott when he claimed they’d get a quicker resolution than the traditional route. Oops.

The order applies to the Congressional, State Senate, and State House maps that were drawn by the Lege. The SBOE map did receive preclearance and is good to go. Expect to see an awful lot of campaign activity in the coming weeks, once people realize where they are and what the new districts really will look like. Among other things, the Senate map may well look a lot brighter for Sen. Wendy Davis, but it wouldn’t stop there. If you look at the population analysis, the Davis/LULAC map creates 13 Democratic Senate districts – the 12 existing ones plus a new one in Dallas County (SD09) that it achieves by pairing John Carona and Florence Shapiro, the latter of whom is retiring anyway. To say the least, if the San Antonio court adopts that plan, it’s quite a game changer. Postcards, PoliTex, the Trib, BOR, and Texas Redistricting have more.

The interim plans

Monday was the deadline for parties in the redistricting lawsuit being heard in San Antonio to file interim plans for the court to consider in the event preclearance is not granted in time for candidate filing. Texas Redistricting summarizes the various plans that were presented to the court:

The Plaintiffs’ Interim Plans

All of the plaintiffs’ plans have substantial similarities, though they differ in the details.

All would add a new Hispanic opportunity district in North Texas, and all, in some way, would restore Lloyd Doggett’s congressional seat (CD-25)- most by creating a ‘tri-ethnic’ coalition seat strongly anchored, if not wholly contained, in Travis County. All also would make adjustments to CD-23- currently represented by freshman Republican, Quico Canseco- to improve the district’s ability the elect the “Hispanic candidate of choice.”

However, there also are divergences.

Proposals submitted separately by MALC and State Senator Wendy Davis and State Representative Marc Veasey would create an additional African-American opportunity district in the DFW Metroplex (CD-35 in both Plan C211 and Plans C202 and C204).

By contrast, the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force and Travis County plaintiffs would forgo that seat and, instead, create a new Hispanic opportunity seat in Harris County (CD-36 in the Task Force’s Plan C213 and CD-36 in the Travis County plaintiffs’ Plan C166).

[…]

The State of Texas’ position

In its papers, the State of Texas, not surprisingly, takes the position that the panel should simply adopt the legislatively passed maps as the interim maps, arguing that the “intent of the State of Texas … is due great deference when the judiciary intercedes in the province of the legislative branch.”

[…]

Congressman Canseco

Freshman Republican Congressman Quico Canseco (CD-23) also has submitted two interim congressional map proposals (Plan C209 and Plan C212).

During trial on the claims before the San Antonio court, the court expressed a number of concerns about changes to CD-23 under the state’s map.

In response to concerns raised by the court at trial, both these maps would create a new Hispanic opportunity district in North Texas that is substantially identical to the district included in Congressman Lamar Smith’s proposal to the Texas Legislature in April 2011.

You can see links to all of the briefs that were filed at that post, and you can see the all of plan numbers here. All proposed interim maps can be found at http://gis1.tlc.state.tx.us. To view a map, click on ‘select plans’ and then ‘base plan.’ The congressional and state house plans are filed under Exhibits in Perez v. Perry, and state senate plans can be found under Exhibits in Davis v. Perry. You can zoom in on these maps to see street-level detail, which I needed to do during the legislative process to see which district my house was being moved to. The parties have until Monday the 24th to respond to any plan they object to – one presumes the plaintiffs have already made their feelings clear about the legislative maps, but I imagine they might reiterate those feelings, just in case – and on Wednesday, November 2 there will be a hearing at which the plans get formally presented. This Statesman story and Randy Bear have more, and an explanation of State Sen. Wendy Davis’ proposed Senate map is here.

Williams in, Lucio out for Congress

Now that the Lege has finished its job with Congressional redistricting, expect to hear a lot more stories about the hopefuls and the not-hopefuls and their plans. For instance, Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams.

With the race for Senate getting crowded, Republican Michael Williams figured the new North Texas congressional seat might just be the ticket to Washington. The former Railroad Commissioner has changed his campaign web site and refiled his papers with the Federal Election Commission as a candidate for Congressional District 33. The district is one of four new seats that Texas gets as a result of population growth. The Legislature passed the new congressional map last week and sent to the governor. The map likely faces legal challenges and has to win federal preclearance under the Voting Rights Act. But Williams’ campaign consultant Corbin Casteel says the new Arlington-based Republican district is a perfect fit for Williams.

“Michael knows if he gets to Washington as a senator or a congressman, it doesn’t matter which, he’s going to be a conservative leader,” Casteel said. “This is a much more direct path. The Senate race is crowded. It’s not going to be clear for several months who’s going to break out of that, so he said this congressional seat is in my home town, it makes plenty of sense.”

Williams first talked about this a couple of weeks ago, not long after the first map came out. Despite his lackluster Senate campaign, you’d have to make him a frontrunner for this seat, assuming it survives a Justice Department review.

Meanwhile, a more surprising announcement is that State Sen. Eddie Lucio will not run for Congress in CD34.

State Sen. Eddie Lucio says he will not run for Congress, even though a new heavily Democratic open district has been created that is anchored in Brownsville.

[…]

Lucio first talked publicly about running for Congress in an exclusive interview with the Guardian at a legislative event at Texas State Technical College in Harlingen in September 2009. The 2010 Census was just around the corner and Lucio felt sure that the huge population growth in the Rio Grande Valley over the last decade would result in a new congressional seat being awarded to South Texas.

Here are his comments to the Guardian in September 2009:

“We deserve to have at least three congressional districts anchored in the Valley and going north. I will work to that affect next session and I will seriously look at running for one of those seats.

“If I lose another 15 pounds and continue to have the energy I have today I would very seriously like to cap my political career… not so much my political career but I would love to address and tackle the issues that are important to us internationally, immigration, health care, water, the environment.

“I think there are a lot of wonderful things we could do at the federal level that would benefit the Valley and South Texas.”

This is surprising because the conventional wisdom was that Lucio, who is on the Senate Redistricting Committee that produced the initial map, was said to have drawn CD34 for himself. There were rumors that he’d vote for the final map, though that turned out to be untrue. He made his announcement on Twitter last Friday; his full statement about why he chose not to run is here.

Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos has expressed an interest in running in District 34. However, as Lucio points out, it has yet to win pre-clearance from the Department of Justice. The Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force has said the new map leaves more than 200,000 Latinos in Nueces County “stranded” in a congressional seat (District 27) where they cannot elect their preferred candidate of choice. On Friday, the Task Force announced it had filed a voting rights lawsuit in federal court in San Antonio.

Stories about that lawsuit are here and here. There was already a lawsuit filed by LULAC in the same U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio, and LULAC is listed as a member of the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force, so it’s not clear to me if these are separate lawsuits or not. If they are, I’d say the odds are good they eventually get combined. As for Armando Villalobos, he had announced his interest in running for Congress back in May, well before a map made an appearance. As with CD33, we’ll see how the legal reviews shake out.

Two other views of Texas redistricting

Here’s a fascinating paper from the Harvard Election Data Archive that attempts to project how many Congressional seats each party will win based on statewide performance.

Based on the 2008 presidential election results, twenty-two of the twenty-three current Republican members of Congress will be in districts in which Republicans are expected to receive 55 percent of the vote or more, and eight of the nine current Democratic members of Congress will be in districts in which Democrats are expected to receive 55 percent of the vote or more. Democrat Lloyd Doggett’s 25th district will go from 60% Democratic to 55% Republican. Of the four new districts, two are districts where we expect Republicans to receive 55% or the vote or more, and two are districts where we expect Democrats to receive 55% of the vote or more. Consequently, if Doggett is defeated due to the shift of his district from heavily Democratic to Republican, the Republicans will increase their congressional delegation from twenty-three to twenty six seats, and the Democrats from nine to ten seats.[1]

Analysis of the plan also allows us to project the likely division of the legislature for different (hypothetical) divisions of the vote statewide. We plot these results on a seats-votes curve, where each point on the plot represents the percentage of seats that would be won by the Democrats for the given vote share.[2]

This curve reveals two important features of this plan. First, the plan has a partisan bias of 14-17%. Rather than winning 50% of the seats in the hypothetical case where the Democrats win 50% of the vote, the Democrats would win only 43-46% of the seats. To win 50% of the seats, the Democrats would need to win roughly 52-53% of the vote.

Second, the number of seats won by each party is constant for any Democratic share of the vote between thirty-seven and forty-eight percent. This range includes the recent statewide performance of most Democratic candidates over the last ten years, which has averaged 42%. This flat portion of the seats-votes curve indicates extremely low competitiveness in almost all of the congressional districts under this plan. Thus, the plan is not responsive to small changes in the vote share of either party in the range of vote shares that we expect in the next elections. All of the changes in the makeup of Texas’ congressional delegation are likely to be the result of the partisan decisions in the redistricting process, rather than from competitive congressional elections.

I don’t know what methodology they used, so I can’t evaluate that, and their graph isn’t very detailed and probably not exactly to scale – it sure looks to me like the step to an 11th Democratic seat comes at a lower point than 48% – but this is interesting anyway. If you look at the most recent table of 2008 electoral data that I posted, you can surmise which seats are most likely to flip in a better-than-expected year by the Dems. Obviously, there are plenty of other factors in play here – individual Congressfolk can outpace or lag the party average in their district based on their own individual qualities and those of their opponents – and external factors like demography and increased restrictions on voter eligibility may skew things further. But as I’ve said before, the opportunity to pick up a couple of Congressional seats should be a compelling reason for Team Obama to campaign in Texas next year.

Meanwhile, the Lone Star Project provides names and numbers for all of the Democratic-proposed alternate Congressional maps, some of which I had previously looked at. They also provide a useful update to the litigation situation:

  • Plans C122 & C123 are regional proposals made by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF). While the MALDEF proposals are not included in the comparison of statewide plans, MALDEF’s proposals will be examined and taken quite seriously during preclearance and other litigation. MALDEF is an important and influential voice in any ongoing litigation.
  • Other important litigants will likely include Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC), NAACP, plaintiffs affiliated with the Texas Justice Fund, some Texas Democratic Members of Congress and, of course, Governor Perry, Greg Abbott and the Secretary of State who will use taxpayer funds to defend and protect the Republican plan.
  • Congressional redistricting lawsuits are already pending in Federal Courts in San Antonio, Austin and Sherman. It is likely that the cases will be consolidated before substantive action is taken.
  • Finally, prior to any action in the Federal Courts in Texas, the State must seek preclearance or federal approval of the plan under Section 5 of the U.S. Voting Rights Act. It is expected that the Republican leadership will bypass the Department of Justice and seek preclearance from the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC. The DC Court is not necessarily a more favorable venue for the Republicans, but it will significantly increase the litigation costs for those opposing the State plan. Of course, Texas taxpayers are forced to pick up the large legal tab run up by the Republican leadership.

There has also now been a lawsuit filed by LULAC in the U.S. District Court’s Western District of Texas. That too may wind up being consolidated with other litigation, though as Greg notes this is probably the one to watch. If the previous two decades are any indicator, we should expect to see some kind of system edit for the 2016 elections.

Civil rights complaint against Texas curriculum

This ought to be interesting.

Two civil rights organizations are seeking a federal review of public school education in Texas, accusing state school administrators of violating federal civil rights laws after curriculum changes approved earlier this year by the Texas Board of Education.

The request to the U.S. Department of Education made by the Texas NAACP and Texas League of United Latin American Citizens on Monday contended that the curriculum changes passed in May “were made with the intention to discriminate” and would have a “stigmatizing impact” on African-American and Latino students.

“The State of Texas is failing to provide many of its minority students with equal educational opportunities,” documents sent to the federal department said.

The request, signed by Gary Bledsoe, president of the state NAACP, and Joey D. Cardenas Jr., state director of Texas LULAC, asked that implementation of the curriculum changes and new standardized tests be stopped for being racially or ethnically offensive or historically inaccurate.

Besides the curriculum complaint, they accused the state, the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Board of Education of “miseducation” of minority students, disparate discipline for minority students, using accountability standards to impose sanctions on schools with high numbers of minority students and rules leading to underrepresentation of minorities in gifted and talented school programs.

That was an AP story; here’s the Chron version. Here’s a press release and a talking points document. This is not a lawsuit, but could possibly turn into one. I wish I could show you the documents they presented, but neither the Texas NAACP nor the Texas LULAC websites had anything relevant. I have no idea what if anything may come of this, but I look forward to seeing whatever does happen. The DMN has more.

San Antonio smoking ban protests

The proposal to strengthen the smoking ban in San Antonio has drawn protest from a previously silent constituency.

LULAC, the San Antonio Mixed Beverage Association, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the San Antonio Restaurant Association joined forces to create the Save Our Jobs Alliance. The coalition opposes strengthening the city’s smoking ban.

LULAC got involved, [its President Rosa] Rosales said, because the organization believes “there is a disparity in the application of this ordinance.”

[…]

The proposal would adversely impact small, minority and women-owned businesses, Rosales said.

She took aim at cigar bars, which could be exempt from the new ordinance.

“Who goes to a bar to buy a $30 cigar? Who goes to a bar to buy a $40 cognac?” she said on the steps of City Hall during the alliance’s news conference Monday. “We don’t do that. We don’t have that kind of money. And that’s disparity treatment.”

Others, including Mi Tierra restaurateur and restaurant association president Ruben Cortez, said the proposed ordinance would put San Antonio businesses at a disadvantage.

“It’s all about economics,” Cortez said. “We’re not fighting the science.”

The San Antonio Mixed Beverage Association’s Bill Johnson, a bar owner who led Monday’s news conference, offered a doomsday scenario if the proposal were adopted later this year. He said it could lead to the loss of “hundreds, possibly thousands” of local jobs in the bar and restaurant industry.

San Antonio’s proposal doesn’t differ that much from what is currently in place in Austin, Houston, and Dallas. El Paso’s “strictest in the nation” smoking ban was enacted in 2002. Only the Alamo City and Fort Worth have more lenient ordinances. I have to ask, how does San Antonio differ from those other cities? Houston’s ordinance specifically exempts cigar bars, too. I don’t recall anyone making this argument about it back then, though I suppose I could have missed it.

As for the claims about job loss, again I say we have many examples to study. The results in El Paso after a year of their new ordinance showed that bars and restaurants did just fine. What San Antonio’s Council is studying isn’t anything new or untested. If you want to make claims about its potential economic impact, show me some data from Austin, Houston, Dallas, or El Paso that backs up those claims. We’re long past the hypothetical stage on anti-smoking ordinances, so please spare me the hyperbole. Show me jobs lost in other cities, or I call BS.

Response from Randle Richardson regarding the CEP report

As noted before, Randle Richardson, the CEO of Community Education Partners (CEP), left a comment on the Hair Balls post in which Houston’s LULAC chapter and the Texas ACLU raised concerns about that report evaluating CEP’s effectiveness. He left a similar comment on my post, and also sent me an email with a couple of other documents, which I will provide here. The comment, which he reproduced in that email he sent me, is as follows:

Response to June 12, 2010 Off the Kuff article entitled, “Not everyone was impressed by that CEP report”

I am writing to address the issues raised in your June 12, 2010 article entitled, “Not everyone was impressed by that CEP report.”

Members of LULAC 402 and the Houston Press questioned the integrity of the report since CEP paid the evaluators and you raised the issue that this should have been disclosed up front. Not having the facts, I understand why you would raise the issue. Here are the facts:

· HISD selected the evaluator. CEP was contractually bound to pay the evaluator regardless of the findings.

· When CEP initially requested the cost of the evaluation be shared by the District during the spring 2009 contract negotiations, HISD explained it was their standard procedure to select the evaluator and the vendor was required to pay for the evaluation.

· The contract between HISD and CEP detailing the terms of the evaluator’s selection and payment is a public document. It has been on file with HISD, therefore available to the public since the contract was executed in March 2009.

I do not believe this small faction of LULAC 402 members, nor the Houston Press, would question the findings of the evaluation or payment terms if the evaluation had been negative toward CEP.

Your article also mentioned that transparency was an issue raised by the Texas ACLU. The ACLU has never visited the CEP Program, never requested information from CEP nor ever expressed a concern to CEP. The contract is a public document and all student data is entered into HISD’s Chancery System. All data is routinely monitored by HISD’s Office of Federal and State Compliance. This information is available to the public.

The LULAC 402 report questions the professors’ methodology and states, “the profs were working with incomplete data.” The standards to evaluate CEP were set forth in the contract and the professors’ were required to analyze the data per those standards.

LULAC 402 is being less than honest in their claim that the professors were working with incomplete data. The A&M professors clearly indicated their first report was a “partial” report; that all data had not yet been collected and that no conclusions could be drawn until all data had been collected and analyzed The analysis done by LULAC 402 was not an analysis of the finished evaluation. Instead, LULAC 402 “analyzed” the partial report. LULAC 402 deliberately ignored Professor Goddard’s declaration that his first release was a partial report and no conclusions could be drawn. Professor Goddard issued a cautionary warning in writing to HISD and CEP not to release the partial report or draw any conclusions from it.

An example of how data has been misinterpreted is the conclusions drawn from the partial report about CEP’s performance under the leaver code standard. The partial report indicated 58 percent of students enrolled in CEP during 2008-09 had been located, which meant CEP did not meet the standard. The final report found that 91 percent of the students enrolled in CEP during 2008-09 had been located, which meant that CEP exceeded the standard.

Please note I refer to LULAC 402 rather than “LULAC,” as referred to in your article. LULAC 402 is one of 18 Houston area LULAC councils. Its “active membership” is small. A small faction of that membership has waged a five-year vendetta against CEP after CEP rejected a proposed program from one their members. Prior to that, we received plaques and thank you letters from LULAC 402.

I am more than happy to review the facts and documents detailing this five-year history, including sworn testimony refuting published statements previously made by the LULAC 402 member whose proposal was rejected by CEP.

For the record, when I spoke of transparency issues, I was referring to HISD, not CEP. I apologize if that was unclear.

The docs Richardson sent me were this snippet from a Texas Public Policy Foundation article on disciplinary alternate education programs (DAEPs) and this letter from Julie Harris-Lawrence of the TEA that praised CEP. See them for yourself. My thanks to Randle Richardson for the feedback.

Not everyone was impressed by that CEP report

Last week, a Texas A&M researcher released a report that evaluated the effectiveness of Community Education Partners (CEP), the provider HISD uses for its disciplinary alternate education program. The evaluation was very positive for CEP, saying it did a good job meeting or exceeding the metrics that are set for it. But since then, there has been some dissension about the report.

Houston’s League of United Latin Americans chapter is slamming a glowing evaluation of the two Community Education Partners schools conducted by two A&M professors.

The professors’ report, which according to an HISD spokesperson was financed by CEP, found that CEP “performed well, relative to expectations.”

But the LULAC report questions the professors’ methodologies and states the profs were working with incomplete data. It also states that an internal CEP report on the number of student dropouts in 2007-08 do not match figures CEP gave to the Texas Education Agency.

There’s an interesting discussion in the comments of that Hair Balls post between Randle Richardson, the CEO of CEP, and Press reporter Craig Malisow about that post and the fact that CEP paid for the report, which their contract with HISD required them to do. I think that’s relevant information that should have been disclosed up front, but I don’t think there’s anything more to it than that. I don’t have LULAC’s report, and I didn’t find it on their website, so I can’t give a detailed analysis of it. Malisow’s response to Richardson suggested the Press may do that, and I hope that’s so. I’ll certainly be on the lookout for it.

LULAC wasn’t the only group unhappy with that report. All I know is I still don’t know what to think about CEP. I definitely agree with the ACLU’s Terri Burke when she says “a lot more transparency” is needed here. In the end, the CEP contract was renewed, so here’s hoping we get that. School Zone has more.

Targeting Frito-Lay

I’ve talked about sporting events like the 2011 MLB All Star Game that are currently scheduled to be held in Arizona and of various ways that people who have some involvement with them have spoken out about Arizona’s “Show me your papers” law in an effort to change the law, or at least change where that sporting event will be played. One group that hasn’t been discussed yet is the sponsors of these events. Well, they’re being pressured, too.

Frito-Lay Inc. is among the “dozens of companies” nationwide being urged to drop sponsorship of sporting events in Arizona following that state’s passage of a controversial immigration bill.

Reports circulated Monday that Latino-activist groups — including the League of United Latin American Citizens — were calling for a boycott of products made by Frito-Lay if the Plano-based snack maker did not end its sponsorship of the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.

A national spokesman for LULAC, one of the nation’s largest Latino activist groups, said LULAC is not calling for a boycott, though some local members might embrace such a move. He said he is making plans to meet with executives from a variety of companies to talk about their sponsorships.

“Let me be clear: There is no LULAC boycott of Frito-Lay or any other company,” said Brent Wilkes, executive director of the Washington-based group, which has its strongest presence in Texas.

He said Frito-Lay is among the “dozens of companies that we’ve reached out to, to ask them to pull their sponsorship of events in that state.” He did not say if he was meeting with any other Texas companies.

This is a common tactic, and I certainly wish LULAC well with their efforts, but I doubt they will have any effect. Not at this time, at least, what with the Arizona law polling depressingly well. I don’t think they’ll have a broad enough base of support to make this work, especially when you realize that companies that yield to this kind of pressure always face blowback. Again, I wish them well, but it’s going to be a long haul.