Early childhood development

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The National Taskforce for Early Childhood Education for Hispanics was established this summer at Arizona State University through a grant from the Foundation for Childhood Development. The group is expected to identify major educational challenges facing Hispanic Children and make recommendations. Guests include Dr. Eugene Garcia, Chairman of the Taskforce and ASU College of Education Dean.

>> José Cárdenas:
Good evening, I'm José Cárdenas. Welcome to "Horizonte… Latinos in the Arizona legislature, a look at next month's primary races and how it could affect Latino representation in the Arizona legislature.

>>> A group targets early childhood education for Hispanic children.

>>> And a celebration in reading of a Chilean poet's life and work.

>>> Latinos represent 25% of Arizona's population. Currently, Latinos hold 13 of the 90 Arizona legislative seats. Let's take a look at some of these races. In the District 23 Senate race, former mayor of Casa Grande Bob Mitchell is running against Rebecca Rios who has served 3 terms in the State House. In the district 23 House race incumbents Ernest Bustamante and Cheryl Chase are seeking a second term. Both face longtime State Senator Pete Rios. In the District 13 House race, first term representative Steve Gallardo faces Martha Garcia, Isaac Serna, Paul Valach and Maclovia Zepeda and Bill Johnson. And in the District 16 House race, five Democrats seek two House seats, incumbents Leah Landrum Taylor and Ben Miranda will face challengers John Ramos, Julian Sodari and Betty Ware. And in the District 24 House race, incumbent Amanda Aguirre faces Fernando Quiroz, Sherry Smith and Michael Smith.

>>> Will Latinos be able to increase their representation after next month's primary election? Joining us tonight to talk about issues and candidate races is Richard Ruelas, columnist with "The Arizona Republic" and editorial writer Richard de Uriarte, also with "The Arizona Republic."

>> Welcome to "Horizonte." Let's get right to the specific legislative races and then I want to talk about the broader issues in terms of Latino representation. Let's start with district 23. You have Bob Mitchell and Rebecca Rios. Your thoughts on that race?

>> Richard De Uriarte:
You know, it's interesting. The last time we were here, we talked about some of this. We lamented the loss of John Lorado in the house and Pete Rios in the senate as a signal that Latinos might lose quite a bit of clout. Ironically, Rebecca Rios is trying for a seat -- the senate seat vacated by her father. She happens to be the wife of John Lorado, so Pete Rios is running for the house, and his daughter is running for the senate seat that he vacated, maybe keeping it warm for him for the next time.

>> José Cárdenas:
She herself has been in the legislature before.

>> Richard De Uriarte:
She served three terms in the late '90s, basically from -- she was elected in '94, served till 2000 and -- 2001. And she's actually a social worker, graduated from ASU, has her master's from ASU, and was an effective lawmaker. So I think that the people of Pinal County will be in good shape with whoever wins. Bob Mitchell is the brother of Harry Mitchell. He was a city councilman in Casa Grande, the mayor of Casa Grande, good family, ex-teacher, so he will serve -- he is a formidable candidate and has no intention, I don't think of keeping the seat warm for Pete Rios. The issue there, I think, will be Rebecca Rios' residence. You know, she is married to John Lorado, they kind of live in west Phoenix. I think to the extent that becomes an issue, it probably hurts her effort to get that seat, but she was a good legislature and I think that Pinal County will be in good shape. In the house race --

>> José Cárdenas:
Before you get to that, let me ask Richard, what do you think will be the outcome of that race.

>> Richard Ruelas:
Pinal County is growing, and it's unchartered territory. I think the Democrats are looking to hold onto it, keep it as a long-time Pete Rios representative and keep it Democratic.

>> José Cárdenas:
They should be able to hold onto it regardless.

>>Richard Ruelas:
I think the Republicans are wondering whether Pinal County will become sort of the East Valley GOP stronghold. That sends a lot of candidates to the legislature.

>> José Cárdenas:
You've got the house race that you were starting to talk about with Pete Rios.

>> Richard De Uriarte:
Pete Rios, and -- Pete Rios has decided to go after a seat against two incumbents, Cheryl Chase and Ernie Bustamante. Clearly, Pete Rios is an excellent lawmaker. He will serve well in the caucus with his experience. He knows things. He knows how these agencies work. When you have a term limited legislature where, other than the Rios' people, get in and get out, that depth of institutional knowledge and strategic value is very helpful. And I would suspect he would have an advantage over either one of those races.

>> José Cárdenas:
Both of them are incumbents as well.

>> Richard De Uriarte:
Both of them are incumbents. So there might be -- after a while, friends come and go and enemies accumulate. So people may have a little bit of a resentment that Pete is trying a second time to return to the legislature after he had the seat warmed by another person. It's a clash of ambition.

>> José Cárdenas:
Do you think there will be negative fallout if the person who loses out is Bustamante?

>> Richard De Uriarte:
Well, you know, politics is conflict. Politics is ambition. What do you do? People will decide.

>> José Cárdenas:
But in terms of, Richard, the diminution of Hispanic voting power, was it a mistake for Pete to run in that district or did he simply have no choice?

>> Richard Ruelas:
I think it's not just -- it's not just the sheer numbers of Hispanics, but what types of Hispanics. I think Pete Rios would be much more effective legislator because of the reasons that Mr. De Uriarte mentioned. He knows his way around the building. Mr. Bustamante has one term, but he's no match for Rios. Rios was president of the senate. So I don't know if there will be fallout. I think it's good to see Latinos competing against each other. It shows a mark of progress.

>> José Cárdenas:
We don't have any Hispanic Republicans running; right?

>> Richard De Uriarte:
That's a 50% Democratic district now. I think Richard is right, that as other components, Apache Junction, and Gold Canyon, all of that grows, there is going to be more Republicans, but as of 2000, it was a 50% Democratic, 28% Republican. So they only have -- they have one house member, house candidate running as the Republicans do. So that's probably safe right now.

>> José Cárdenas:
Let's talk about district 13. You've got Steve Gallardo running against a pretty crowded field. How do you hand cap that one?

>> Richard De Uriarte:
They are all very differential to Steve Gallardo who hasn't served that long. I think this is his first term that we're currently in. So, Gallardo has the inside track. Nobody is trying to go after him. This is another one of those civil races. So far all candidates are out there doing their bit. A lot of the insider Democratic party activists favor Maclovia Zepeda who works for the Chicanos Por La Causa. She has been -- she has a whole slew of committee meetings, but I think that Martha Garcia who is in the Cartwright school board has been elected, has been a neighborhood activist for years, probably has a little bit of an advantage in that -- in name recognition in a primary that will probably be not well -- the turnout will not be that great.

>> José Cárdenas:
It's a primary who decides who will hold the seat, right? Because the Democratic voter edge?

>> Richard Ruelas:
Republicans are written off south and west Phoenix. There is no Republicans running in key districts in either the house or the senate.

>> Richard De Uriarte:
You know, it's interesting, because except for the personal ambition with Pete Rios, in these districts, it is not the ethnic battles that you've seen in the past where there's very, very bitter -- bitterness. In south Phoenix, district 16 as well, numbers of candidates, credible candidates, all knocking door-to-door, not -- but not fighting, not smearing, not hits yet, no hit pieces.

>> José Cárdenas:
Are you surprised by that? You've got district 16, as you made reference to, you've got three African American candidates and three Hispanic candidates, a district which includes the Roosevelt school district which was in the paper because they appointed a non-Hispanic, non-African American board to temper the tensions.

>> Richard Ruelas:
With school boards it's big with city council races in district 8, which is the Sim area, it's huge. Landrum Taylor and veranda might run as a slate almost.

>> Richard De Uriarte:
You know, it's interesting, Leah Landrum, this is her sixth time she's running. The Landrum name, and she has a very effective organization. That's a district also as Richard points out that's growing. I mean, there is all new people in there. So they are out -- the one who will win will be the one who has the best campaigns, and I think the incumbents have the advantage. Ben Miranda has had in the past good mail-in voters. I mean, we're expecting half of the people who vote in this will be voting early. And if you have an effective mail-in campaign, you'll probably win. Leah Landrum says she's knocking on doors four times a week. Leah Landrum has a good legislative race. Many of her supporters know that they single shot her because, you know, in crowded fields you never know what happens. So -- but she's not part of an anti-Black, anti-Mexican effort to -- it just hasn't gone that way. These guys are good.

>> Richard Ruelas:
That could be one reason for that could be that a lot of people have realized that that in-fighting is not as productive as fighting to get more Democrats in the house. When you see issues come down to a few votes --

>> José Cárdenas:
Let me talk about one other race and then I'll go to broader issues. That's district 24 down in Yuma.

>> Richard De Uriarte:
You know, that's been an interesting district. It is marginally Democratic. You know, incumbents usually win, although that's a race that might go a competitive race. Republicans, Jim Carruthers, you know, as far back as you know, there have been a number of -- Morris Cartwright back in the 70s won as a Republican in Yuma County. They can win in Yuma County, specially if they are up from the civic rotary, city council, well known in the community. That's the way Yuma is, and the rest of the state is all party --

>> José Cárdenas:
Richard, let's assume all Hispanics running in these races win. Where are we in testimonies of Hispanic clout with the dust settles?

>> Richard Ruelas:
Well, about the same, and the clout that Hispanics have in the state house is only so far as strong as the number of Democrats in the state house. I think Alberto Gutierrez is running as a Republican in central Phoenix.

>> José Cárdenas:
It's also a function of how well the moderate Republicans do? Because they have gotten the Hispanics --

>> Richard Ruelas:
Absolutely. It gets to races like in the Ahwatukee-Chandler area, Slade Mead and John Huppenthal. He is a Republican but has been a moderate Republican and voted for Napolitano's budget, is a booster of education, and Latinos could argue that as Democrats win and are more likely to support education and healthcare and a Slade Mead who has been a friend on those issues, Slade Mead's victory ends up being a victory for Latinos.

>> José Cárdenas:
On this subject, about some these other races, are there other races that would have an impact on Latino issues besides this one, depending on this one, where non-Latinos are involved?

>> Richard De Uriarte:
Well, I think the big fights in Arizona politics now are being fought within the Republican party, within the legislative campaigns, you know, Slade Mead and John Huppenthal in --

>> José Cárdenas:
And you also see in races -- and I'm jumping outside of the legislature, the county attorney's race, that have nothing to do directly with immigration, people demanding to know positions on immigration. What's going on there?

>> Richard De Uriarte:
Jose, it's become a code word. It's like the third rail of politics. You touch it at your own risk. Who in Congress, who has proposed immigration reform? Jeff Flake in Congress, and Jim Kolbe, both have primary opposition. This is not by coincidence. You see on the signs on the signs in Maricopa County, Andrew Thomas has stop immigration. Every one of them. It has become a code word, especially for the hard right conservatives, whatever you call the ultraconservatives, real conservatives, real Republicans, whatever you call them, abortion, gay rights, immigration is part of that -- no taxes -- part of that mantra. If you raise that issue, they know who you are.

>> José Cárdenas:
Speaking of stopping, we're going to have to stop here because we're out of time, but thank you for joining us on "Horizonte." We'll see you, I'm sorry, another time or two before the elections. Thanks a lot.

>>> Latinos have made gains in several key education areas in the past twenty years, but despite these gains, research suggests dramatic difference among Hispanic children and whites and other minority groups when it comes to being ready to start school. Is there a need to focus on early childhood education? Merry Lucero looks at the issue.

>> Reporter:
Early childhood education can give children the skills and opportunities to increase their chances of success in school. Some studies have shown that participation in high quality education has short-term positive effects on IQ and achievement and long-term positive effects on low income minority children's completion of school. In a 2001 survey taken by the National Center for Education Statistics, White, non-Hispanic and African American children are more likely than Hispanic children to attend an early childhood program. That survey found 59% of white non-Hispanic and 64% of African American non-Hispanic children ages 3 to 5 attended such programs, compared with 40% of Hispanic children. Through a grant from the foundation for child development, the national taskforce on improving early childhood education for Hispanics was established this summer at ASU to identify major issues facing America's Hispanic children from birth through primary grades and make recommendations for a plan of action. There are three major challenges for the taskforce. First, to identify the most effective existing strategies for improving educational outcomes in the early childhood years for Hispanics. Second, to determine an agenda for developing a larger set of proven early education strategies, and lastly, to develop recommendations for policy makers, practitioners and other key parties that can help make sure strategies are used effectively. There are also pilot programs to help gain awareness of early childhood education. This one called Leaps and Bounds provides parents and other family members with basic educational strategies that can be used at home to ensure that their children entering Kindergarten are ready to learn.

>> José Cárdenas:
Joining us is the chairman of the National Taskforce on Early Childhood Education for Hispanics, Dr. Eugene Garcia. Dr. Garcia is also ASU Dean of the College of Education. Dr. Garcia, thank you for being on tonight's show. I'd like to talk first about what's going on at the national level, because you are chairing the national taskforce. What other states are doing and then finally, Arizona. As you know, this has been a huge topic in Arizona with the Governor's program on all-day K. Let's start first with the taskforce.

>> Eugene E. Garcia:
Sure, I think the Arizona interest is a part of the national interest in early education. For Latinos, we really don't have a good idea of what those kids are getting in the early years. What we do know, unfortunately, nationally, because of a new longitudinal database, the Hispanic kids start out a standard deviation below the norm at the beginning of Kindergarten. So even before, if you call it an educational agenda begins for them, they are already starting behind. Now, some states like Florida, Oklahoma and more close to our home, Los Angeles County -- North Carolina is another example -- where early education is attempting to even the playing field at the beginning of kindergarten, so that if we are starting behind, is there something we can do at the early years, particularly ages 3 and 4, when it comes to education and then ensuring also that kids are in healthy environments, so that they get their medications. They get health checks. They get the inoculations and that parents are critically informed about their importance in the early development of children. Los Angeles County close to home, is proposing by 2010 that there will be universal preschool available for 3 and 4-year-olds in that county that's funded by statewide proposition that supports early education. So it's not cheap, but that's what other states are doing.

>> José Cárdenas:
It's not just an environmental issues such as poverty levels and medical care, there are other things that can be done. Is that the answer? Is it the pre-K?

>> Eugene E. Garcia:
It's not the total answer. When I was here last time, we were talking about Hispanic dropouts and I mentioned that it starts early, and I casually mentioned preschool. If you start before even entering the formal schooling process, then the parents and system has to do a lot to catch up to remove that gap. What we're doing now is we're not doing a good job of removing that achievement gap. So the argument is, essentially, the taskforce will explore this argument, can we do something in early care. We know that Hispanics overall in the U.S. do not experience the opportunities of early education as other children might.

>> José Cárdenas:
How do you change that?

>> Eugene E. Garcia:
Well, first of all, I think you have to understand that early education is not just a matter of educating the child. It's really family inclusion. It's understanding the family and social context in which that child lives, understanding that parents are the children's first caretakers and first teachers. Understanding that the kinds of interactions they have at home promotes, essentially issues like vocabulary development, good brain development, et cetera. A lot of our Latino families, Hispanic families, are -- do a good job of caring for their kids, but many times don't understand the implications for the kinds of activities they can do. So part of the answer is understanding how you approach the entire family and care system for Latinos in the country.

>> José Cárdenas:
Don't you also have to deal with language barriers?

>> Eugene E. Garcia:
You have to deal with language. Everything we know about the national data suggests that if Spanish is the only language spoken at home at present, that child will have a more difficult time making it through the present educational system.

>> José Cárdenas:
How do you change that?

>> Eugene E. Garcia:
Actually, you work the entire system, so you work with the family. Clearly, we know that if the child picks up a good vocabulary in Spanish, then we know mainly because we know the education of the parents, whether it's in Spanish Or English, it has a great effect on how those kids will do in the early grades.

>> José Cárdenas:
We're almost out of time. When will we start to see some results?

>> Eugene E. Garcia:
Probably not for another 6 to 8 months. We're now preparing a careful set of analysis and the taskforce will begin its work in January.

>> José Cárdenas:
Thank you for joining us. We look back to having you back to tell us about the taskforce report.

>> Pablo Neruda was a patriot, activist and poet who used his pen not only to show the beauty of love and nature, but also to protest a government which he did not believe was best for his fellow Chileans. Here's more on his life and poetry.

>> Stella Pope Duarte:
And it was at that age poetry arrived in search of me. I don't know. I don't know where it came from. From winter or a river. I don't know how or when.

>> Alberto Rios:
They weren't voices, they were not words, nor silence, but from a street it called me. There it was, without a face, and it touched me.

>> Reporter: Born as Pablo Neruda, in the town of Paral (phonetic) Chile, Pablo Neruda is the greatest poet that Chile has ever produced.

>> In a recent celebration, valley residents paid homage to his life and creativity.

>> Patricia Barthe:
His poetry is music. It's pure music, but it's also pure soul, pure heart, and I'm very much about speaking from the heart.

>> Alberto Rios:
And I wrote the first faint line, faint, without substance, pure, nonsense, pure wisdom of one who knows nothing.

>> Reporter:
Much of his poetry reflects thoughts of a very passionate man.

>> Alberto Rios:
Body of my woman, I will persist in your grace, my thirst, my infinite anguish, my indecisive path. Dark riverbeds where eternal thirst follows and fatigue follows, and infinite sorrow.

>> Patricio Gutierrez:
Oh, my gosh, poems. We have to remember he was very young. It was in his early 20s. I think it was 19 when he started writing 20 poems of love. For the time, they are very sensual and erotic.

>> Reporter:
Later in life, his outspokenness against his government broadened into political activism.

>> Alberto Rios:
Suddenly I saw the heavens unfastened and open. The darkness perforated, riddled with arrows, fire and flowers, the overpowering night, the universe.

>> Reporter:
Even though his political protests prompted him to live underground for two years, the soul of a patriot shines in his poetry of the period. In her dedication to him, Patricia Barth alludes to the turmoil.

>> Patricia Barthe:
Thank you, Pablo, a letter of gratitude to the spirit of a great poet. Thank you for writing on behalf of your country, even when your country demanded you remain silent, and for choosing exile rather than live a lie.

>> Reporter:
That ability to speak from the heart earned him a Nobel prize in literature in 1971.

>> Stella Pope Duarte:
That's what his work is about, transformation. Transforming the human condition into something that is sometimes indescribable. Sometimes he falters in his poems for words to describe the passion that's inside of him. Like the poem that I read where he says I don't know. I don't know why it came after me, poetry. I wrote a first line very vague. He says it was nonsense, and it was wisdom. I don't know. You know. I like that. Because we don't know.

>> Reporter:
One thing Neruda did know was the importance of honoring one's heart by putting pen to paper.

>> Alberto Rios:
And I, tiny being, drunk with the great starry void, felt myself a pure part of the abyss. I wheeled with the stars. My heart broke loose with the wind.

>> Reporter:
For that, his life and creativity are celebrated to this day.

>> José Cárdenas:
In 1973, Chile was taken over and Neruda's friend, President Allende, was shot. Neruda died of cancer 12 days later and thousands of supporters risked their own lives to attend his funeral.

>>> If you would like to see transcripts or what's coming up on "Horizonte," go to our web site at www.kaet.asu.edu click on "Horizonte" at the left of your screen and follow the links. Thanks for joining us tonight, and watch us next week on "Horizonte." I'm your host, José Cárdenas. Have a good evening.

Richard de Uriarte: Editorial writer, "The Arizona Republic;

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