Latino Teachers Honored

More from this show

This year Chicanos Por La Causa honors 10 Latino teachers with its Sixth Annual Esperanza Awards Ceremony. The award acknowledges educators for their dedication and contribution in the Hispanic community. Guests include: Bertha Salas, Vice President Corporate Services, Chicanos Por La Causa.

José Cárdenas:
Good evening. I'm José Cárdenas. Tonight on "Horizonte," how will the Latino vote help decide who will be the next president of the United States? We'll talk about Latino political power in this year's election. And Hispanic teachers recognized for their dedication to education. That's coming up on "Horizonte."

Some say Latino voters are on the verge of making political history. Both presidential campaigns are trying to target the nation's Hispanic voters in fighting to get their vote. Here with us to analyze the Latino vote are Richard De Uriarte, editorial writer for "The Arizona Republic," and Adrian Pantoja, Arizona professor of political science at ASU.

Richard, do you agree with the statement we did in the introductory script about Hispanic voters being on the verge of making political history this election?

Richard De Uriarte:
I'm not sure political history is the right word. That indicates that this is something different. Presidential elections, Jose, always come down to the battleground states where the electoral college system itself, where the winner of a particular state gets all the presidential electors, all the electoral votes, always has made little groups very, very important. Among about the 15 battleground states left are included several states in which Hispanic voters make up an enormous block, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado. All of those states, if Latinos vote in good proportions, more than last time, they will be a swing vote, and that's why both candidates have courted that vote.

José Cárdenas:
Let me ask you one question as it relates to the Electoral College. There's a measure on the ballot in Colorado that would change that. Would that dilute Hispanic voting power in Colorado if it passes?

Richard De Uriarte:
It seems to me that that would. It seems to me that for decades presidential campaigners, when they're running in Texas, for example, and if Texas were a swing state this year, you'd see candidates in San Antonio wearing a big sombrero just as John Kennedy did in 1960. And he hated to wear hats. The calculus of presidential elections is a winner take-all system. If you had, I think, kind of a breakdown of that, it probably would mean that the candidates would probably go mainly for the majority and try to win those, you know, by the same token, reporters tell you -- barely can tell you what happened yesterday. It's hard enough to predicting what will happen tomorrow. But probably that would be the -- it would be certainly less enhanced.

José Cárdenas:
Dr. Pantoja, first give us a little of your background

Adrian Pantoja:
My area is in Latino voting behavior and issues dealing with immigration.

José Cárdenas:
Something you have been working on with the last 10 years.

Adrian Pantoja:
Yes, I have.

José Cárdenas:
Do you agree Latino voters will make history this election?

Adrian Pantoja:
I agree -- I don't know if this particular election is one where they're going stand out among all the other elections --

José Cárdenas:
Jorge Ramos thinks they will. That's the title of his book --

Adrian Pantoja:
This in many ways I would agree with Jorge Ramos. If you look at the census trends, without a doubt Latinos are going to be a powerful force to be reckoned with politically. Now, political power is not being matched with their demographic power yet but you see these trend. You've seen the tremendous growth in the Latino electorate in the past 10 years.

José Cárdenas:
Can you give us a little bit of history of that as it's been reflect past elections?

Adrian Pantoja:
Sure, for example, you can see variability between different candidates and across different states. In 1976, Ford won 18% of the Latino vote. In 1980, Reagan won 37% of the Latino vote. And so these discussions that the Latino vote is up for grabs it really is the case. Latinos aren't firmly committed to a particular party. You look at George Bush's numbers back in the 2000 election and you'll see variations across different states. He did very well in Texas, not so well in Colorado. Very well in Florida with the Cuban factor but really poorly in New York with the Puerto Rican factor. So when we try to grasp who the Latino voter is, you have to understand there is immense variability within the Latino population, across states and across the dynamics of the campaign.

José Cárdenas:
And it's a Latino population that's changing. We just talked about New York and Florida. And Florida, we've always equated Hispanic voters there with the Cuban population, but that's changing

Richard De Uriarte:
And Republican. But in Florida, it's considered much more up for grabs because you have not only a second generation and a third generation now of Cuban-Americans who are less likely to be very, very solidly anticommunist, anti-Castro, strongly Republican, strongly conservative, and the younger folks are just different. They're much more variable in there, plus you have other Latino ethnicities and nationalities that have come in Dominicans, South Americans, there's Salvadorians. Since 1980 we've had an enormous wave of different nationalities coming. So all these -- politics -- in the United States is a forever changing landscape, and as Dr. Pantoja said, and why I would take issue with Jorge Ramos, it's not always what the population does. It's the people you turn out on election day.

José Cárdenas:
What do we know about that, Dr. Pantoja? We hear this week that there's movement in the Hispanic White Catholic vote. We hear that there's movement in the single female vote. Do we have anything comparable in terms of data for the Hispanic vote?

Adrian Pantoja:
No, it's very difficult to get a grasp of the Latino electorate. What you often see in these national surveys, they talk about a national poll on the particular candidates, and within those polls -- let's say a sample size of 400, 500, you might have 20, maybe less than 50 Latinos in that poll so it's hard to get a good sense what the national trends are for the Latino electorate. If you look at state surveys, surveys done in particular states, say Arizona, California, Texas, you see a better picture of the Latino electorate and I'm willing to bet within those surveys you will see some variability that there is greater swing as the campaign progresses. For example, in a survey that I saw done in July, a number of Latinos, about 30%, 40% of the Latino electorate were still not committed, they were saying they were undecided, this was during the summer. They've still had yet to know who John Kerry was. But I think as they've come to know John Kerry, you see the shifts taking place.

José Cárdenas:
And you see them taking place in favor of Kerry?

Adrian Pantoja:
I see that seems to be the direction it's heading.

José Cárdenas:
Is there a little contradiction there? The Latino voters are largely Catholic, and so given the criticism that Kerry has gotten on abortion issues and so forth, wouldn't you expect to see a move away?

Adrian Pantoja:
Not at all. Keep in mind that abortion, issues dealing with gay rights, this is just one of a number of issues that are out there on the ballot. Latinos are very concerned, for example, with national security, the war in Iraq, surveys that I've seen show that a large number of Latinos would probably rank the war in Iraq much higher than, say, abortion, so how the candidates handle foreign affairs is also going to be a critical issue for Latinos.

Richard De Uriarte:
And you have to remember many Hispanic families are military -- have military -- military veterans in -- among their family members and marines, in the towns of Miami, Arizona, and Globe, when a Latino is born, well, there's another marine and there's another miner. That was for generations -- for generations that was the calling. What Dr. Pantoja mentioned earlier about the variability, much of a presidential vote, more than any other vote, is a decision about who you want to see for the next four years, who you kind of feel a little sympathy with, and that's why Gerald Ford, kind of wooden, more a government type person, very amiable person, only could garner 18%. Yet Ronald Reagan, whom you think would be more difficult to carry because of his issues a Latino, a liberal Hispanic group of Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans, yet did very, very well with Latinos and not just the Cubans.

José Cárdenas:
We just finished the debates where the candidates did have an opportunity to display their personal characteristics. How do you think that may have influenced the Latino vote?

Richard De Uriarte:
You know, debates tend to bring people back into where they wanted to be in the first place, but I thought generally most analysts thought Kerry won the debates, but of the undecideds, there was a shift over to Bush, and I think that that's a universal, because of some of the family things, some of the security problems -- or concerns about Kerry and Bush, and so I think -- when we say up for grabs, this election is up for grabs. Both campaigns are going to go to their base. That's why they say Democrats are yelling, he's going -- he's -- he's for the rich, and the Republicans running on he's going to raise your taxes. You get down to basic messages and try to gear up the vote. This is going to be -- when they say battleground, this campaign is going to be won in the ground and with who they turn out of their base. On the Undecideds, I'm not sure Undecideds on October 21st makes a difference.

José Cárdenas:
Dr. Pantoja, any sense for how many of those Undecideds are Hispanics or do you think the Hispanic vote is pretty well determined?

Adrian Pantoja:
No, it's changed over time. Again, some of the surveys I saw early in the summer, you had upwards to about 30% who might have claimed they were undecided but over time you are going to see movement toward a particular party. In the 2000 election, George W. Bush won about 35% of the Latino vote. My own analysis suggests he's probably not going to do as well this time around. I'm willing --

José Cárdenas:
Why would that be?

Adrian Pantoja:
Part of that would be Bush really made an effort in 2004 to speak Spanish, you were talking about how we were discussing issues such as how the candidate comes across to voters. Issues matter to voters, but so does likability. The ability of voters to relate to connect to a candidate, do they feel comfortable, is somebody they want to lead -- they want to invite to their house. When you speak Spanish, when you make an effort, when you talk to individuals on a personal level, I think voters -- all voters react to that and I think Latino voters in particular, and this election I haven't really seen George Bush make an effort to speak Spanish.

José Cárdenas:
Did either one of you see anything in the debates where you thought the candidate was connecting or trying to connect to Latino voters in particular. Richard?

Richard De Uriarte:
No, I think that -- I think Kerry --

José Cárdenas:
What about the question on affirmative action?

Richard De Uriarte:
You know, Jose, again, I kind of agree with Adrian that questions don't matter. I think more people were -- cared about that Bush said it was love at first sight, or things like that that -- it's very, very --

José Cárdenas:
Talking about his wife

Richard De Uriarte:
Yes. It's very interesting, I've heard that figure 35% from 2000. I talked with Matt Dowd who is the president's pollster about a year ago, and he was aiming at 40%. He felt that because of the population growth that George Bush would have to carry 39 to 40% to win the election. Such is the growth of the Latino population. So a drop would be significant -- a significant problem, especially if Latinos turned out in those swing states, including Arizona. It would be a far different race if Arizona Latinos made up 11 or 12% of the voter turnout on election day than what I suspect it will be, 6 or 7 or lower.

Adrian Pantoja:
And I believe the Achilles' heel in the case of Arizona, if we consider Arizona a swing state, thigh voters were particularly interested in not what they had to say about affirmative action but what they had to say about immigration. Keep in mind that 40% of Latinos are foreign born. They're immigrants. So when the candidates speak on immigration related issues, voters are going to respond, at least Latino voters will. Immigration is a political hot potato. None of them wanted to touch it. So people were asking me, are they going to -- is there going to be a question on immigration during the Arizona Tempe debate. There was one. There was one question, and they didn't spend too much time dealing with the question -- they answered it briefly and moved on. I think Latino voters would have liked to have heard more about what the candidates have to say on that issue, in particular here in Arizona with Proposition 200, I think Latinos are very much interested where are the --

José Cárdenas:
You have other efforts going on. LULAC is launching a major get out to vote effort in Arizona. Do you think that will have an impact?

Richard De Uriarte:
I think this is going to be a base election. The election will be decided on which party turns out its numbers. That is why the election has been a long time, according -- courting Latinos and registering Latinos. I noticed earlier this week Michael Frias of Americans coming together of one of those 527 groups, which were registering a lot of voters, a lot of -- aimed at Democrats, aimed at helping Kerry win, he has been shifted over to Arizona -- or shifted over to Florida.

José Cárdenas:
Does that mean Arizona is not in play now or Florida is more central --

Richard De Uriarte:
Both. I think that --

José Cárdenas:
The NAU poll that came out about a week ago indicated Arizona was back in play, didn't it?

Richard De Uriarte:
Yeah, and I think that Florida is the most crucial. I mean the winner of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida, the winner in two of those states is going to be the next president.

José Cárdenas:
And the interesting thing is Hispanics are starting to play a role in Midwestern states, not just the southwest. Any thoughts on that, Dr. Pantoja?

Adrian Pantoja:
You've seen a growth in the Latino population in places not only in the midwest, places like Iowa, places like Illinois outside of Chicago and in the southern part of the Illinois, but you've also seen a growth in Latinos in the south, places like Alabama, places like Georgia. Most of the growth -- the growth of that population are largely immigrant, are largely foreign born, and that's the problem with the Latino electorate, the potential has not been tapped because you have a lot of individuals ineligible because they are non-citizens.

José Cárdenas:
We will have to leave it at that for now. Thank you both for joining us on both "Horizonte."

It's a special opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of Hispanic teachers in Arizona. Mike Sauceda tells us more about how the community is honoring their accomplishments in education.

Reporter:
There are many extraordinary Latino teachers in classrooms every day in Arizona. Since 1999 Chicanos Por La Causa, a social service organization committed to building stronger communities, established the Esperanza award created exclusively for Latino teachers to honor their accomplishments for outstanding work in education. There have been over 30 teachers honored with the award since Chicanos Por La Causa started this recognition in ceremony. The organization always made developing their programs to gear toward inspiring children. By acknowledging more Latino educators with this award the hope is to provide a better foundation for children to learn from and prepare them for the challenges of tomorrow.

José Cárdenas:
Joining us to talk more about the Esperanza awards is Bertha Salas, vice-president of corporate services for Chicanos Por La Causa, also here is Arcelio Martinez, one of the teachers who received the award. Bertha, tell us first a little about CPLC, Chicanos Por La Causa

Bertha Salas:
Chicanos Por La Causa was started in 1969 in response to a lot of need in the community and the barrios of south central Phoenix. It originally started for the purpose of helping the Hispanic population. However, since then we have evolved into a community development corporation that serves all people --

José Cárdenas:
One of the largest in the country?

Bertha Salas:
Yes, we are proud to say we are one of the largest Hispanic corporations in the country.

José Cárdenas:
Now, on the video, it mentioned that the Esperanza award has been in existence since 1999. How did it come about?

Bertha Salas:
Well, for a couple years between 1997 and '99 both Mr. Garcia, our president and CEO of Chicanos Por La Causa, and I were involved in helping various community agencies and corporations in reviewing and selecting some of the teachers that were going to be recognized by those corporations, and in doing that we saw an obvious lack of Hispanic surnames among the nominees and among those selected. In response to that, Mr. Garcia asked that we take it upon ourselves to do something about it, to address the obvious lack of recognition and appreciation of the Hispanic teacher. With that we gave birth to Esperanza, which, of course, means "hope."

José Cárdenas:
How are the award recipients selected?

Bertha Salas:
We originally started in 1999 with -- involving five school districts, which were the ones immediately around the barrio where we originated, and since then we have evolved into 28 school districts participating. What we do is we notify the superintendent of each appropriate district. We also advise them that we will be contacting the principals within their school districts, inviting their teachers to nominate a peer to be recognized and honored with the Esperanza award.

José Cárdenas:
Mr. Martinez you were one of the recipients last night. Congratulations. How did you get involved in education?

Arcelio Martinez:
Thank you. It's a long story. I was a miner, and I lost my job. I was doing a lot of odd jobs, construction and different sort of things, working in a nursery, mostly construction, then I got a job as a custodian and the principal of the school at the time, Mr. Lopez, encouraged me to go to school. As a matter of fact, really pushed hard for me to go to school. I was resistant -- resistant at that time.

José Cárdenas:
How old were you at the time?

Arcelio Martinez:
A little over 50. At the end of my freshman year I was 51 years old.

José Cárdenas:
A little older than the other students --

Arcelio Martinez:
I always felt like the oddball in the class, but I enjoyed it very, very much.

José Cárdenas:
So you went to college with a mind that you were going to teach afterwards?

Arcelio Martinez:
Actually, no, I just went to college just to further my education, and although the principal at the time he did point me in the direction of teaching, and once I just got into it, I really enjoyed what I was doing. I enjoyed academia, and I just figured I would just do the best I possibly could, and I decided to be a teacher.

José Cárdenas:
How old were you when you got your first teaching job?

Arcelio Martinez:
55. I was working full time, and I was coming to school full time, and I would -- when I did my student teaching, I would dismiss the class and I would start cleaning the bathrooms. I was still a custodian. So in December of '91, I received my certificate, although I was on emergency certification because of the need at the time, and I actually -- at the same time that I was student teaching basically I was actually teaching.

José Cárdenas:
Where do you teach now and at what grade level?

Arcelio Martinez:
It a Kenilworth in the Kenilworth elementary school of the Phoenix district, and I teach 6th grade, and one of my co-recipients teaches there also, her name is Carmine Campos.

José Cárdenas:
What does it mean to you to get the award?

Arcelio Martinez:
It means an awful lot. Last night, like you mentioned, I spoke expressing my appreciation. There's two people I forgot at the time that I would like to clear that right now right here --

José Cárdenas:
Make sure they're watching the show.

Arcelio Martinez:
Yes. My principal, Kenneth Baca, and Mr. Jerry Eaton who wrote the nomination paper submitted to Chicanos Por La Causa, and I'm very, very grateful to them for having done that, because it's an honor, it's more profound than I ever imagined. I didn't realize how much work Chicanos Por La Causa did. I knew I had received the award but until I was there, live and in 3-D, I realized how profound it was and how it affected so many people and how the public received it. We had the governor there and many people that I think highly -- I saw a lot of people I used to know that were from Miami and congressman Pastor and a few others.

José Cárdenas:
You heard Bertha explain that the motivation for starting the awards was to obtain more recognition for Hispanic teachers. Do you think there's still remains under-recognition of the contributions Hispanic teachers make?

Arcelio Martinez:
Yes, I feel very strongly that there is more need for more -- you can just go by the numbers -- I really don't know the numbers, but there are many other deserving teachers out there that work on a daily basis teaching English language learners. I mean, which we all are. We all are English language learners. I challenge anyone to think they completely know the English language. But, yes, we do a really good job with our population.

José Cárdenas:
Do we need more Hispanic teachers?

Arcelio Martinez:

Yes, we do.

José Cárdenas:
Why is that?

Arcelio Martinez:
Because the need is out there. If for no other reason than to role model for -- people always mention the high Hispanic drop-out rate. We need people, such as myself, that were -- that are old to go ahead and to live their dreams, live out their dreams. That's what life is made of. I'm very fortunate to have done it myself.

José Cárdenas:
Bertha, how has the community responded to the Esperanza awards?

Bertha Salas:
Incredibly. Initially when we started it, I think that's one of the reasons we kind of started small, we didn't know what the response would be from the community in general, the educational profession, and more importantly, corporate -- the corporate America, and the response has been tremendous. Last year we had the fortune of having Mr. Ira Fulton from Fulton Homes join the family, and he became the premier sponsor, which has add totally different aspect to the event. It's brought it tremendous recognition.

José Cárdenas:
And how so. He's been a major benefactor for the university but he also done some things I understand for the awards

Bertha Salas:
Yes, last year for the when Fulton Homes came onboard, the evening of the awards we traditionally gave out a $2500 scholarship to each recipient, at that time we had eight recipients. When he heard of that, he kind of leaned over to Mr. Garcia and he said I'm going to match that. Mr. Garcia assumed it would be for this coming year. As we were presenting the awards that evening, Mr. Fulton kind of just stepped up to the podium and said, I've changed my mind, it's not going to be next year, it's tonight, and with that, he personally wrote checks for each one of the recipients, and since then the awards -- this year there were 5,000, while he did it again this time, he stepped up to the plate again and added an additional $2500 to the scholarship, and that is an incredible response. I mean, he's an incredible person. We call him our guardian angel. I think we've been very blessed.

José Cárdenas:
Mr. Martinez, last question, a lot of changes in education in the last few years, particularly those restricting the use of Spanish in the classroom. How has that impacted your work?

Arcelio Martinez:
To finish, before I answer the question, not enough can be said about Mr. Fulton. But well for three years now I guess we've been -- bilingual education has disappeared, and to put it mildly I miss it. I'm a team member and I do everything that's asked of me under the new guidelines, but I still think the old way was better. I think I was a more effective teacher, which brings to mind one of my former students who went in through the bilingual program who is on the president's list of American high school students who named me as her -- the one that had more impact on her. Her name was Nubia Munoz and she named me as one who had more impact on her.

José Cárdenas:
Was she someone who was bilingual --

Yes, her language was Spanish, went through the system and that's the best example I can think of to say bilingual education was still valid and I miss it.

José Cárdenas:
We'll have to end our interview on that. To see transcripts of "Horizonte" or find out about upcoming shows, visit our website at www.azpbs.org. Click on "Horizonte" and follow the links. Thanks for joining us on "Horizonte." I'm José Cárdenas. Have a good evening.

Adrian Pantoja: Professor of political science, Arizona State University ;

National Memorial Day Concert image
aired May 28

National Memorial Day Concert

Endeavour Watch Party

“Endeavour” Season 9 Watch Party!

Super Why characters

Join a Super Why Reading Camp to play, learn and grow

NOVA will talk about how your brain determines your reality in
aired May 17

NOVA’s two part series on “Your Brain”

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: