Herman Badillo

By Carl Campanile
New York Post (Tuesday, December 19, 2006), page 8

Herman Badillo has dropped a bombshell on his fellow Hispanics – charging that too many are mired in poverty because they don’t value education.

“Education is not a high priority in the Hispanic community . . . Hispanics have simply failed to recognize the overriding importance of education,” the first native-born Puerto Rican elected to Congress writes in his new book, “One Nation, One Standard.”

“Hispanics have failed to assume responsibility for their children’s welfare . . . Hispanic parents rarely get involved with their children’s schools. They seldom attend parent-teacher conferences, ensure that children do their homework or inspire their children to dream of attending college,” he adds.

Badillo writes that many Spanish-speaking immigrants are hard workers, but that to get their children to move up the economic ladder would require a cultural shakeup of sacrifice and “self-improvement” by putting education first – as Asian and other U.S. immigrant groups have.

Hispanics can no longer rely on schools and the government to do it for them, he writes. He further blames “self-segregation” – not discrimination – as a major impediment to progress for many Hispanics. Instead of focusing on assimilating into the American fabric, he writes, too many view themselves as aggrieved minorities.

“Many Hispanic parents seem to accept the characterization of their community as a minority group, something they would find incomprehensible in the Latin and Caribbean countries from which they come,” he writes. “They accept labels such as ‘brown people’ or ‘people of color.’

“Having gone along with such characterizations, some Hispanics behave as if they actually were a persecuted ethnic group, with a permanently diminished capacity for success,” the controversial autobiography says.

Hispanic immigrants would be better served by embracing the American ideal of “one nation, one standard,” Badillo adds.

Badillo, 77, says his own rags-to-riches story proves that the poor – including Hispanics – can become successful. Orphaned in Puerto Rico, he came to the mainland as a boy knowing no English and went on to become the city’s first Puerto Rican borough president, in The Bronx, as well as a congressman, top adviser to three mayors, and CUNY chancellor.

Bronx Democratic leader José Rivera blasted Badillo’s comments as a “total insult” to Latino parent- advocates who fought for decades to get the city to better educate their kids.

“This is unfair. You cannot write a book blaming the victim,” said Rivera.

Instead, Rivera blamed Badillo for educational shortcomings of Latinos – because Badillo held city leadership positions overseeing education under Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Ed Koch.

“He was part of the system that miseducated our children for many years. We are constantly being shortchanged,” Rivera said.



Linda Chavez, author of Out of the Barrio
Herman Badillo is a true leader who doesn’t flinch from expressing difficult truths. His own amazing story provides inspiration and the moral authority that allows him to advocate hard choices for American Hispanics.

Mario Cuomo, former governor of New York
He provides nourishment for intelligent people who call themselves liberals and equally intelligent people who call themselves conservatives. I call him brilliant.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, former mayor of New York City
The greatest lesson of Herman Badillo’s story is that the genius of American life—the upward ladder of opportunity that American freedom at its best provides—is better at solving most any problem than any government program.

Edward I. Koch, former mayor of New York City
Herman’s recollections on a host of important national issues, described and discussed in One Nation, One Standard, are fascinating. It is a wonderful read.

Book Description

Why aren’t Hispanics succeeding like Asians, Jews, and other immigrant groups in America? Herman Badillo’s answer is as politically incorrect as the question: Hispanics simply don’t put the same emphasis on education as other immigrant groups.

As the nation’s first Puerto Rican–born U.S. congressman, the trailblazing Badillo once supported bilingual education and other government programs he thought would help the Hispanic community. But he came to see that the real path to prosperity, political unity, and the American mainstream is self- reliance, not big government. Now Badillo is a champion of one standard of achievement for all races and ethnicities.

In this surprising and controversial manifesto, you will learn:

* Why Hispanic culture’s trouble with education, democracy, and economics stems from Mother Spain and the “five-hundred year siesta” she induced in Latin America.

* Why the Congressman who drafted the first Spanish-English bilingual education legislation now believes that bilingual education hurts students more than it helps.

* Why “social promotion” — putting minority students’ self-esteem ahead of their academic performance and then admitting them to college unprepared — continues to this day, despite the system’s documented failures and injustices.

* How self-identifying as “Hispanic” or “white” or “black” undermines achievement, and what lessons we can learn from Latin American countries, where one’s race is irrelevant.

With Central and Latin America exporting a large portion of their poor, Hispanics are on the way to becoming a majority in the United States… but one with all the problems of a minority culture.

Badillo’s solution to this problem relies on traditional values: hard work, education, and achievement. His lessons are important not only for Hispanics but for every American.

About the Author

Herman Badillo was the nation’s first Puerto Rican– born congressman. He also served as the borough president of the Bronx, deputy mayor of New York City, and chairman of the board of the City University of New York. Currently he is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.


  1. Congressman Serrano responds to Badillo’s Book as reviewed in the NY Post:

    I look at Herman Badillo as two different people. Herman of the past and Herman of the present. Herman of the past is a man for whom I still have a lot of respect. He was the first Latino to put us on the political map. Through him we were able to show that Puerto Ricans were capable of being intelligent and having the abilities to participate in all aspects of New York society. Herman was the first commissioner, the first Boro President and the first Congressman. He was highly respected and always made us look good. While it is true that other Puerto Ricans had been elected to public office, before him, it was Badillo who reached levels that we could only dream about. In the process of doing so, he made non-Puerto Ricans take notice of our talents. I doubt if our political, social and economic growth would be where it is today without the achievements of Herman Badillo. As the longest serving elected official in Bronx history and the longest serving Puerto Rican elected official in our country, it is clear to me that I owe a lot of my success to Herman’s ability to open doors that were closed to all of us.

    The Herman Badillo of the last 10 years is a bitter and angry person who seems highly hurt by his inability to become mayor of our city. He lashes out at the very people who are part of the community that launched his career. While it is true that we always need to push harder to attain success, he seems to forget that our public posture should continue to be one that speaks about all the difficulties we face rather than to concentrate only on some shortcomings in our behavior. Badillo seems to have lost respect for our community. I can remember, however, when he would tell us that Puerto Ricans were the victims of discrimination in all walks of life. I remember when he felt that because he was Puerto Rican a lot of folks would not vote for him in his attempts at becoming mayor. Did he forget when the Bronx political organization put a bad-sounding, out-of-tune salsa band on top of a truck and drove them late at night through white neighborhoods in Brooklyn with Badillo for Mayor posters? As we know, that was done to scare white folks away from us. Has he forgotten when he was the victim of political dirty tricks which were ways of showing the discrimination against a Puerto Rican running for high office, in our town? He has forgotten a lot. Today’s Latino community faces a lot of the same issues that we faced and Herman should know that. The problems may look different but the effects are the same.

    It saddens me to hear these comments from Badillo. It hurts to think that he truly feels that way.

    He runs the risk of ruining what otherwise would be the most positive legacy any of us could leave our community.

  2. Who exactly is Herman Badillo’s audience? I haven’t had a chance to read the book yet, however, it seems from the quotes in the NY Post article that his audience is non-Latino and that he is describing us to them, unfortunately, in highly subjective ways.

    And that is not to say that his views are completely invalid — just askew. I’m the first to acknowledge a certain mindset that is self-limiting and at least prima facie comes from all the government programs that were set up to help the poor among us but instilled a dependency and a culture of poverty.  These programs grew out of a systemic racism that, in attempting to redress injustice, remained trapped within the same paradigm, and as such failed to address on a broad class level the true inequality in America which is economic.

    Also, as another point of reflection, while education is paramount for most kinds of upward mobility, it may be considered a necessary but not sufficient condition, especially when schools themselves fail to educate in any language.

  3. Mr. Badillo might have half a point there. Let me explain. The group Mr. Badillo is looking at are the kids of inmigrants from the 60’s. People without education in most of the cases. When parents have not education they cant help their kids very much. Specially in a place like NY. Is very different someone that come to the states with no education to try to make a living and those who come with education. In many cases recruited by companies or agencies. Those hispanics with education are taking care of their kids. Unfortunately most of the people that leave their country looking for a oportunity in the U.S.A. come unprepared.

  4. New York Times (December 31, 2006)

    More Yet Even More
    Comments on the Badillo Book

    Reading New York
    Badillo’s World,
    One Tenement’s Tale and Eau N.Y.C.

    EARLY in 1969, three mayoral challengers — a conservative Democrat, a conservative Republican and a lonely liberal Democrat — denounced an agreement between City University and advocates for black and Puerto Rican students that would grant any high school graduate access to the university. Herman Badillo, the Bronx borough president and the lone liberal among the three Cassandras, sounded the loudest alarm over the policy, which would be both revered and vilified as “open admissions.”

    “An institution for higher learning may waive standards, but I know that the outside world will not,” he warned. Moreover, he added, “the disillusion will be deeper since it will be founded upon greater expectations.”

    The incumbent, Mayor John V. Lindsay, was re- elected that year. But nearly four decades later, after serving as, among other things, a congressman and a deputy mayor, Mr. Badillo, 77, remains consistent. His mantra, in a phrase, is “I told you so.”

    “How did Hispanics fall so far behind other immigrants?” he asks rhetorically in his new manifesto, “One Nation, One Standard: An Ex-Liberal on How Hispanics Can Succeed Just Like Other Immigrant Groups” (Sentinel, $23.95) His answer is not just open admissions at City University, but also the failure to devote enough resources to promising pilot programs, and the emphasis on bilingual education, which he says was contorted into monolingualism — Spanish only — instead of being used as a bridge to English. The solution, he contends: better schooling and a single standard that everyone must meet.

    “Hispanics must set aside talk of their great culture, their music, and their traditions and instead focus on educational accomplishment,” he writes.

    But what distinguishes Mr. Badillo is that while he acknowledges his early role in perpetrating some of the problems, he became instrumental in effecting a solution, primarily as chairman of the City University board of trustees. In effect, the university abolished open admissions in the senior colleges, imposed stricter eligibility requirements and shifted most remediation responsibilities to the community colleges.

    “I feel uniquely qualified to speak about these problems,” Mr. Badillo writes candidly, “because I played a part in causing some of them.”

    While he graciously accepts a share of blame, he directs most of it at others: Spanish conquerors who imposed a “five-century siesta” on Latin Americans, shortsighted white politicians who hijacked higher education to achieve “racial peacekeeping,” and terrified white teachers who promoted unqualified minority students lest they be accused of racism.

    Mr. Badillo, now a Republican and therefore a turncoat to many Democrats, is that rare politician who consistently speaks his mind. Statistically, he all but justifies racial profiling, for instance, because “the ratio of blacks and Hispanics among those being stopped and frisked was not out of line with the ratio of blacks and Hispanics committing crimes.”

    For that reason, his book left me hungry for even more revealing insights into the visceral forces behind his personal success and the struggles of his fellow Hispanics. What drove Mr. Badillo, who came to New York from Puerto Rico in 1941 as an 11-year-old orphan, to refuse food as a child if it was gotten through begging, or to enroll on his own in a junior high school? How do Hispanic immigrants as he portrays them differ from, say, Italians, who eventually thrived despite what sociologists described as a similar indifference to education or to establishing American roots?

    Mr. Badillo has lost faith in government’s ability to deliver. But the alternative — his heartfelt, though sometimes frustratingly general, challenges for Hispanic parents to immerse themselves in their children’s education — might be dismissed as just nostrums. Unless, of course, other Hispanic leaders echo his cry and Hispanic parents heed his advice . . .

    Badillo’s rant
    El Diario-La Prensa (December 21, 2006)

    The saying is that with age comes wisdom. Sadly, that’s not the case with Herman Badillo.

    Badillo, the first Puerto Rican elected to U.S. Congress and former advisor to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, contends in his soon-to-be-released autobiography that education is not a high priority for Latinos, that we’ve failed to assume responsibility for our children’s welfare, and that we don’t put education first, unlike other immigrant groups.

    In his book, Badillo falls back on a tired model minority argument to excuse the failures of the public school system and the neglectful educational policies emanating from Washington and, instead, blames hard-working Hispanic parents for the educational inadequacies of today’s youth. He fails to provide comparative analysis of differing economic and educational backgrounds of the relevant immigrant groups within the time period of their immigration to this country.

    We’ve heard these types of broad, culture-based criticisms before—and they are not that surprising from Badillo. He has made hurtful comments about Mexicans and Dominicans in the past, and has all but disengaged himself from the concerns and realities of the Hispanic communities that gave rise to his political career.

    His book is supposed to be a blunt account of why Hispanics are in crisis. Instead, it`s a disjointed, afactual rant that shows very little insight into complex social and educational issues.

    As the numbers of Latinos rapidly increase, some conservatives will undoubtedly use Badillo’s perspective as fodder for resisting badly needed educational policy changes and dramatically increased investment in our children’s education.

    If depriving our schools of resources made them better, we would have the best schools in the country. If lecturing people worked as social policy, Badillo’s contribution to this debate might be of some use. But neither is the case.

    New York Post (December 22, 2006)

    Herman Badillo, under a firestorm of criticism for writing that Hispanic parents don’t value education, got a vote of support yesterday from fellow Democrat-turned-Republican Mayor Bloomberg.

    Bloomberg, while admitting that he hadn’t yet read Badillo’s new book, “One Nation, One Standard,” praised the former congressman and CUNY chairman as a champion of education.

    “His focus on getting everybody to go to school and understand the value of education in our world is the correct one,” the mayor said.

    “Herman’s always been a big believer in raising standards in the education system. People work up to standards. If you lower standards, they work down to them, and that’s not in anybody’s interest.”

    Herman Badillo Dises His Own Kind (December 19, 2006)

    For those that are of the mindset that any Latino politician is better than no politician at all, may I present to you Herman Badillo.

    “Education is not a high priority in the Hispanic community . . . Hispanics have simply failed to recognize the overriding importance of education. Hispanics have failed to assume responsibility for their children’s welfare . . . Hispanic parents rarely get involved with their children’s schools. They seldom attend parent-teacher conferences, ensure that children do their homework or inspire their children to dream of attending college.” .

    The first native-born Puerto Rican (I’m so ashamed to say) elected to Congress wrote this in his new book, One Nation, One Standard.

    Having had experience first hand working with Latino parents in the NYC public school system, including an overwhelming amount of non-English dominant parents (and being a Latina parent with a child in public school) I am personally and collectively insulted. What has he been doing hanging with Lou Dobbs or Arnie? But wait it gets better. Look how is promoting the book:

    In this surprising and controversial manifesto, you will learn:

    * Why Hispanic culture’s trouble with education, democracy, and economics stems from Mother Spain and the “five-hundred year siesta” she induced in Latin America.

    * Why the Congressman who drafted the first Spanish-English bilingual education legislation now believes that bilingual education hurts students more than it helps.

    * Why “social promotion” — putting minority students’ self-esteem ahead of their academic performance and then admitting them to college unprepared — continues to this day, despite the system’s documented failures and injustices.

    * How self-identifying as “Hispanic” or “white” or “black” undermines achievement, and what lessons we can learn from Latin American countries, where one’s race is irrelevant.

    Race is irrelevant in Latin America? Is there another Latin America I’ve missed? I make no bones about the fact that I think Badillo is one of the biggest vendepatrias/sell outs of the community. This book shouldn’t be on anyone’s list for Navidad and in fact I would support an all out ban and protest of this book.

    NY Latino Journal
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  7. Herman Badillo on CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight”
    Aired January 2, 2007 – 18:00 ET

    “I’m not saying it’s only Hispanics, but I’m talking to Hispanics because I represent the Hispanic community and it’s time that the Hispanics would wake up to recognize what’s going on. I hope the others will as well.”
    — Herman Badillo


    Up next, former Congressman Herman Badillo. He says he knows why Hispanics aren’t being educated. He’ll be our guest . . . That should be lively.

    Stay with us.


    DOBBS: Hispanic students in this nation are failing and the numbers are nothing less than devastating: the lowest graduation rates in the nation and the highest dropout rates. It’s a crisis and there is no easy solution.

    Joining us tonight here is Herman Badillo. He’s a former U.S. Congressman from the state of New York and the author of the important new book, “One Nation, One Standard: an Ex-Liberal on How Hispanics Can Succeed Just Like Other Immigrant Groups”.

    Herman, it’s good to have you with us.


    DOBBS: It’s been a while. An important book, it is starting to raise a lot of attention and controversy, as you would hope and intended, I’m sure.

    You said that the Hispanic students in this country have the lowest high school graduation rates, just over 53 percent according to the statistics you use.

    BADILLO: Yes. It’s very grim.

    DOBBS: Why?

    BADILLO: Why? Because I believe the parents don’t get involved in seeing to it that the educational system performs. They don’t recognize that there are things like social promotion where everybody passes. And what happens is the students are passed along. When they get to the ninth or tenth grade, they really can’t perform. And so they drop out.

    DOBBS: But this is also true, in only slightly lesser degrees of black students in this country and lesser degrees yet of white students.

    BADILLO: Yes, but the point is, I’m talking as a Hispanic about the Hispanic community. And we cannot continue to have those low graduation rates because today, not having a high school diploma means a life of poverty. And what people have to understand is that there is an answer to poverty. It’s not government. It’s getting an education.

    Government is never going to provide jobs for all or housing for all or health care for all. If you get a good education, you provide for your own job, get your own housing and take care of your families. So that is a real answer to poverty.

    DOBBS: And you’ve been criticized, interestingly enough in this book, “One Nation, One Standard” for putting the blame on Hispanic parents, putting a large measure of the blame on them.

    BADILLO: Well, they have to take a responsibility for not getting involved with the educational system. And that is the problem that I’ve talked to many teachers and Hispanic parents don’t show up during parent/teachers conference days and they don’t really know what is going on.

    DOBBS: But, again, Herman, I talk with educators, teachers, administrators all across the country. They say exactly the same thing of black parents, white parents. Race doesn’t seem to matter in that regard.

    BADILLO: I’m not saying it’s only Hispanics, but I’m talking to Hispanics because I represent the Hispanic community and it’s time that the Hispanics would wake up to recognize what’s going on. I hope the others will as well.

    DOBBS: You and me both. This part does affect principally Hispanic parents. You say and I quote, “Although intended” — on the issue of bilingual education — if we can see this quote by Herman Badillo. “Although intended as a bridge to full English comprehension, bilingual education has become in practice a substitute for it. Because bilingualism has actually become monolingualism. It has hindered not only Hispanic progress in education, but more broadly Hispanic assimilation into American life.”

    I can hear the screams from a lot of quarters on that one.

    BADILLO: But this is something I know about.

    DOBBS: Sure.

    BADILLO: Because I was the author of the bilingual education bill in Congress. When we passed it in Congress, bilingual education was supposed to make sure that the kids learn to speak English. It was not supposed to be for two, four, six and eight years as it is now and it was not supposed to be monolingual education. So that’s why I say that bilingual education has been distorted.

    DOBBS: And I think it’s important to say it again. Herman Badillo was the author of the original bilingual legislation, which means you’re cursed in a lot of circles.

    BADILLO: Yes, but that was not what we intended, unfortunately.

    DOBBS: I understand. Once the government gets a hold of things, the results are not always exactly what anyone envisioned.

    BADILLO: Exactly.

    DOBBS: Again, what is the solution? Do you think this Congress has the courage to not pander to — because the advocacy groups, the 115,000 strong…

    BADILLO: … I don’t think we should wait for Congress because the Congress has had decades in which to make a correction.

    DOBBS: What should we do?

    BADILLO: I think the solution is that parents have got to be involved and see to it that the kids do not go into monolingualism, that the kids really learn in the school system. And that is the responsibility that parents have got to assume. We cannot wait for Congress or any part of government to change the system.

    DOBBS: Herman Badillo, the book is “One Nation, One Standard.” And I think it’s a title that applies across so many, many subjects and issues in this great society of ours. Herman, good to see you again.

    BADILLO: Thank you.

    January 3, 2007


    PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Our “Out in the Open” looks at intolerance against Latinos in America continues with a critical look at Latinos themselves.

    Are they to blame for their own higher-than-average rate of poverty? New Yorker Herman Badillo thinks so. The first native-born Puerto Rican elected to Congress generated some shocking headlines after he blamed his own people in a critical new book, “One Nation, One Standard: An Ex-Liberal on How Hispanics Can Succeed Like Other Immigrant Groups.” In it, he argues that education is not a Latino family value, and that too many Latinos are not making an effort to learn English.

    It is a radical turnabout. And Herman Badillo joins me now.

    Thanks so much for joining me tonight.

    So, you are saying that the fact that so many kids are dropping out of high school . . .


    ZAHN: . . . the fact that so many Hispanics are not educated. . .

    BADILLO: Over 50 percent — 50 percent of Hispanic kids do not even graduate from high school.

    ZAHN: All right.


    ZAHN: And you’re saying that is not the fault of the school system?

    BADILLO: Oh, yes. No, no, no, I’m saying it’s the fault of the. . .

    ZAHN: But the parents, though, primarily are to blame?

    BADILLO: I’m saying we cannot expect the school system to correct it.

    The parents have to get more involved, get into the schools, find out what is happening, find out what techniques are being used that prevent the kids from learning.

    For example, social promotion — what happens is that kids are passed automatically, whether they’re learning or not. If you do your work, you pass. If you don’t do your work, you pass. Then, the kids get to be ninth or 10th grade, and they’re reading at the fourth- or fifth-grade level. And drop out.

    ZAHN: But. . .


    BADILLO: Parents have to know about that.

    ZAHN: Right. Let’s come back to the crux of that. When you — when you talk about the parents. . .

    BADILLO: Right.

    ZAHN: . . . are you suggesting that Hispanic parents simply don’t care about educating their children?

    BADILLO: No. I’m saying — no. I’m saying that they have to get more involved in what’s going on.

    They don’t realize what’s going on. They don’t realize the techniques that are used.

    ZAHN: Why is that?


    BADILLO: Because they don’t go to the parent/teachers’ conferences — not everyone, of course. Some do. But, in general, they don’t participate in what’s going on. They don’t insist that they look and see whether the kids are getting homework, whether they’re doing it, and whether they’re performing.

    And, if they did, they would realize that they’re not learning. And that is why I say, we — this is a message to the Latino community, that we have to wake up and begin to look at the problem, because education is the key to moving ahead in this country. ZAHN: And many of those people are charging you with being a race-baiter.

    BADILLO: No. No, they’re not.

    Some people, my opponents — you may remember I changed the standards at the City University. The same people who, of course, when, you know, I was chairman of the board, opposed me, because there are some people who don’t want to have any discussion that reflects poorly on a community, even if it’s true. They don’t deny the facts. They just don’t think that I should talk about it. That’s the problem.

    ZAHN: Well, let’s — well, Congressman Badillo, let’s bring back our panel right now, Karen Hunter, Sandra Guzman, Niger Innis.

    What about that, Sandra?

    SANDRA GUZMAN, NEW YORK POST: Well, I — I actually — with all due respect, I want to know where you got this 50 percent statistic, because. . .

    BADILLO: Oh, the national. . .

    GUZMAN: . . . because the last numbers I saw was 33 percent.

    And I am not saying there isn’t a problem.


    BADILLO: . . . nationwide.

    GUZMAN: I’m saying to generalize and say that it is the fault of Hispanic parents, that our kids are failing, is divisive. It’s dangerous. It’s dangerous. . .

    ZAHN: What if it’s true?

    BADILLO: Excuse me. There’s a national report card that is published. It was. . .

    GUZMAN: But — but wait a minute. It’s not true.


    BADILLO: Excuse me — it’s published by — it was — it’s an agency, published. . .


    GUZMAN: It’s not true. Hispanics do care about education. We care about our children.

    BADILLO: No, no, I’m talking about the facts, the facts.

    GUZMAN: You’re generalizing that. . .

    BADILLO: No, I’m not.

    GUZMAN: . . . all Hispanic families — so, that means that your family doesn’t care about education.

    BADILLO: No. I didn’t say all Hispanics.

    GUZMAN: Are you still Hispanic?

    BADILLO: Excuse me. I didn’t say all Hispanic families. You and me and others, Hispanics, have achieved.

    I say, the huge percentage of Hispanics are not achieving. And we have to face that, because that’s a reality. To ignore it, it’s a disservice towards. . .


    ZAHN: How do you think African-Americans would feel. . .


    ZAHN: . . . if the same criticism was lodged against them?


    KAREN HUNTER, HUNTER COLLEGE: As the Puerto Rican Bill Cosby. . .


    ZAHN: “You don’t care about your children as much as Asians do,” you know, whatever the charge is going to be.

    HUNTER: Right.

    As the Puerto Rican Bill Cosby, I completely agree with him. And I think that, ultimately, we live in America. This country is based on people putting themselves up by the boot=straps and being successful.

    All of the — we have access to everything here. If you are not successful, it’s your fault. And, if your kids aren’t doing well, look in the mirror. At the end of the day, the school system sucks. But, then, it’s up to you, as a parent, to augment what the school system isn’t giving, because. . .

    ZAHN: But, clearly, there are. . .

    HUNTER: . . . if your kid is not successful, whose fault is it?

    ZAHN: . . . pockets of populations that are under- served in this country. And all of us have to concede that the quality is not the same across the board in school districts across the country.


    NIGER INNIS, CORE: And, at other times, our children are being miseducated by politically correctness, which Herman’s book is thrashing.

    And thank goodness he is.

    BADILLO: That’s what I’m talking about.

    INNIS: You call him — you call him the Bill Cosby, the Latino Bill Cosby.


    HUNTER: No.


    HUNTER: . . . Puerto Rican Bill Cosby.

    INNIS: I call him the Latino Roy Innis, because . . .

    GUZMAN: And, in some circles, he’s being called . . .


    GUZMAN: . . . and a sellout.

    INNIS: No, not all.


    INNIS: The sellouts are those that will allow their children to continue to mire in poverty, and they’re not doing well in school.

    GUZMAN: I don’t know of any Hispanic parent who, in his or her — her right mind, is going to be look at his child and say, great, you’re failing.


    GUZMAN: You’re blaming — it’s not — it’s not that simple.


    ZAHN: I know you don’t buy this statistic that Herman used about 50 percent failing.


    ZAHN: Let’s say it’s 33 percent.


    ZAHN: How do you defend that? Whose fault is that?


    GUZMAN: I don’t defend that. It’s tragic. It’s absolutely tragic.

    ZAHN: But don’t parents . . .


    INNIS: This book is a book of liberation.


    ZAHN: . . . have — deserve any responsibility for that?

    GUZMAN: Absolutely. It’s parents. It’s society. It’s our culture.

    Remember, we live in a society where we celebrate Paris Hiltons of the world. Come on.


    INNIS: And that — and that’s wrong with our culture.


    INNIS: And let me tell you something. This book is a – – is not oppressive. It is a pathway to success. It is a road map to success, not just for Latinos, but for any group that is trying to climb up the economic — socioeconomic ladder.

    HUNTER: And, if you’re mad about it, do something about it. If you’re mad about it, do something about it.


    HUNTER: I’m — I’m standing here today, because Marge (ph) and Don (ph) Hunter made sure that I got an education.

    And, if I brought home a B, guess what? I — well, I won’t tell what you they did to me.


    HUNTER: But that — that fear. . .

    INNIS: We need to go back to that standard. That’s right. That’s right.

    HUNTER: . . . propelled me. And I think there’s no fear in today’s youth. They don’t care. There’s nothing that’s going. . .


    ZAHN: What about the fact, Sandra, that some people will think you’re being in. . .


    GUZMAN: I just think it’s unfair to just say it’s just parents. ZAHN: . . . that you’re being too sensitive to the criticism, once you hold the mirror up to your community?

    GUZMAN: No, I’m not — I’m not — Paula, I’m not being insensitive.

    I’m just — I — I think this is — this is race-baiting. I think it’s — it’s really unfair to just say it’s the parents’ fault.

    BADILLO: We have to talk about the problem.

    GUZMAN: It does start with the family . . .

    BADILLO: We cannot hide the problem.

    GUZMAN: . . . absolutely. But . . .

    BADILLO: You’re trying to hide the problem because you don’t want to talk about it.

    GUZMAN: No, I’m not trying to hide the problem. What I’m saying is that it’s not that simple. No.

    BADILLO: What I’m calling is for a national conversation in the Hispanic community to improve the conditions because the facts have been known for a long time and we just sit around and do nothing.


    GUZMAN: And maybe the gem of this conversation is that — of this book we’re having that conversation.

    BADILLO: That’s the point. Exactly.

    GUZMAN: But, Badillo, quickly, it’s like if I’m having a child who is failing and he comes to me and I call him stupid.

    BADILLO: I’m not saying anybody’s stupid. Excuse me, no, no.

    GUZMAN: You know what? You’re saying parents don’t care and we don’t have a culture where education. . .

    BADILLO: I’m saying they don’t get involved. They don’t get involved. That’s a reality.

    ZAHN: OK, we’ve got to cut this off, but it gives us plenty of fodder for future conversations. Thank you all.

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    Notes from the “Other New York”
    By Angelo Falcón

    Earlier today I walked into the Harvard Club with Shirley Rodriguez Remensky, president of One Hundred Hispanic Women, who had made the mistake of asking me for the building number, which I, of course, got wrong and almost got us lost. The Manhattan Institute’s forum on Herman Badillo’s new book was on the third floor and the room was packed. Herman was there with his lovely wife, Carolyn, as was former Mayor Ed Koch, former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern, Abigail Thernstrom, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, Peter Salins, and so on. There I was, in the midst of the “Other New York.”

    I lost Shirley in the crowd, but saw what seemed to be a lost dominicana, Jeanne Mullgav, the commissioner of the city’s Department of Youth and Community Development, who greeted me with a, “Do you know any of these people?” She had come with attorney Natalie Gomez-Velez. Shirley found her way to this little group and did her best to defend Herman’s book, which she had actually read, while the rest of us made faces and politely rolled our eyes (actually, I’m not sure if this can be done politely).

    Herman dropped by and I told him that if the book made any money I expected 10 percent as a fee for our promotion of it. We chatted about the Latino community’s negative reactions to his book and how personal some the comments had been. “Angelo, there was even one person who wrote that I should die!” I asked him, “So are you having fun with this?” In typical Badillo fashion, he responded, “This isn’t about having fun, it’s about raising this very serious issue.” So I asked again, “But are you having fun anyway?” He looked at me and kind of wandered off. And then CUNY Trustee Rita DiMartino dropped by and I warned the group to keep quiet, there was a Puerto Rican Republican present! Rita then proudly announced to the group, “Did you know that me and Angelo are related?!” They seemed surprised that I had relatives.

    Anyway, we then went into the luncheon area and sat down at a table, which immediately became the “Hispanic Table.” A very nice woman (one of those “Other New Yorkers”) asked if we minded if she sat at this Latin American table, and we of course welcomed her with open arms as we Hispanics are wont to do. One of the Latinas sitting with us observed that there weren’t many Latinos at this event. I pointed out that, if you included the people serving the food, we were probably the majority of the people present in the room.

    The nice “Other New York” lady that sat next to me mentioned that she and her husband had just returned from vacationing in Argentina and other parts of Latino America. But she found it strange that, having grown up in New York City, that she really had no contact with the city’s Latin American community. I muttered something about the evils of segregation and then they served the chicken.

    The program opened with a welcoming by Lawrence Mones, the head of the Manhattan Institute. He introduced former Mayor Ed Koch who would be in turn introducing Badillo. Now this was interesting because I thought Koch hated Herman’s guts, but there he was, nonetheless, praising Herman for his courage in raising the tough issues and for his persistence. He told the story (which is in Herman’s book) about how he and Herman (in the book Herman doesn’t mention Koch being there) met with Schools Chancellor Joe Klein about the need to stop the policy of social promotion. He pointed out that Herman even volunteered to bring this issue to black and Latino communities and take the heat.

    Herman was next and he laid out the basic themes of his book. The Hispanic community, he reported, will be the largest ethnic group in the country in fifty years, when they are projected to become 25 percent of the population, and if they don’t give education a higher priority this will be a tragedy for this community and the nation. Hispanic parents need to get involved in the schools and need to learn from the Asian community’s stress on educational achievement. He hit the social promotion issue and the lack of support from Hispanics to change this. He blamed those rotten Spaniards for colonizing Latin America and inducing a “five hundred year siesta” that has created Latino parent’s current lack of interest in education (I think that’s what he was saying; by this time I was working on the cheesecake and my attention was slightly diverted).

    He closed by talking about immigration and its importance to this country, making it clear that he supported the Bush approach of paths to legalization. But he pointed out that there will be no solution until those Latin American countries took greater responsibility for pushing their people out. “Former Mexican President Vicente Fox,” Badillo related, “gave a speech on immigration and said that with so many poor people in his country he was sure that they could alleviate poverty for everyone. That was his diplomatic way of saying, “So go to the United States”! That got a big laugh from the crowd.

    Then they opened the session for questions. He was asked if he thought the schools needed to be also held responsible, “Of course,” he responded. Abigail Thernstrom pointed out that she agreed with almost everything he said, but that she felt that there are charter schools and some public schools that actually are successful in inculcating positive educational values among children to offset what they were not getting from their parents. “Isn’t there a role for schools to influence the children directly in this way?” “Of course,” he responded. And so it went for a while.

    Then Henry Stern asked Badillo about all of the negative responses he was getting from the Hispanic community and why don’t they embrace his important message. Badillo then went on a tear. “Those people only care about having a larger Puerto Rican parade. They don’t want the community to learn English. They never supported me on stopping social promotion because all they care about is keeping the status quo.” Well, all the Latinos at my table were wincing. Later I read a column by Dan Wolf in that day’s The New York City Sun newspaper (reorinted below) and it seemed, in retrospect, that Stern and Badillo were using it almost word for word as a script.

    I got recognized and asked Badillo if the criticisms he was getting in the Latino community had anything to do with the fact that he was generalizing so broadly about Latino parents’ attitudes about education, and the lack of community support for educational achievement? He ignored the question and continued to talk about the importance of education to Hispanics. Mones, the Manhattan Institute president, chimed in that today was only the beginning of this dialogue. I muttered that in the Latino community we had already gotten a two week head start on it.

    As I was going down in the elevator, Ed Koch was there. Somebody mentioned that he was a great Mayor and, like Herman, he too had shown a lot of courage. Riding down an elevator with the “Other New Yorkers,” even for just three floors, can seem like an eternity. Anyway, I couldn’t find the goddamned coat check and somehow wandered into the bar, where I bumped into Angelo Giordani and Ismael Betancourt, two veterans of the Puerto Rican community wars. They, both Harvard MBAs, were chater members of the Harvard Club and had themselves earlier wandered into the Badillo book forum, but stayed at the back. We discussed the book and the forum, but I left when the conversation turn to prasise of the many benefits if Cialis. I found the coat check and took the subway back to “My New York.”

    Brave Badillo
    The New York Sun (January 9, 2007)

    Herman Badillo and his new book, “One Nation, One Standard,” will be celebrated today at a luncheon held by the Manhattan Institute, where he will be introduced by Mayor Koch. Even before it hit the stores, the ideas expressed in the book have been a source of controversy because Mr. Badillo takes his fellow Hispanics to task for not stressing the importance of education to their children. “Education is not a high priority in the Hispanic community. . . . Hispanics have simply failed to recognize the overriding importance of education.”

    Mr. Badillo’s standing comes not only from his own ethnic background and service as Bronx president and a member of Congress but also from his service as the chairman of the board of trustees of the City University of New York. After decades of declining reputation brought on by an “open admissions” policy, Mr. Badillo led the charge to end the practice of offering remedial classes for ill-prepared students in the system’s senior colleges. With remediation limited to the system’s two-year community colleges, high standards at the City University have returned and ignited a renaissance.

    During the debate over standards at CUNY in 1997, a particular controversy erupted over the bilingual program at Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College in the South Bronx. The school was founded in the 1960s to help recent immigrant students pursue higher education while picking up English language skills. A scandal erupted upon discovery that Hostos was graduating students who could not pass the CUNY writing competency exam. That year, of 104 graduating students, only 13 passed. The trustees made passage a prerequisite for obtaining a degree.

    That Mr. Badillo was willing to demand that Latino students learn English didn’t sit well with the current generation of Bronx political leaders. Fernando Ferrer, then the Bronx president, and Roberto Ramirez, who was the “boss” of the Bronx Democratic Party, showed up at the Hostos graduation and turned it into what the Daily News called little more than a “four hour political rally that passed as a graduation exercise.” Mr. Ramirez exhorted the students to “honor our Spanish” and described Mr. Badillo as “someone who is one of us and forgot where he came from.”

    Two contentious years later, Mr. Badillo, amid oft- repeated charges that minority students would disappear from CUNY campuses, finally won passage of his plan to eliminate remediation from the senior colleges. In the years since, his insistence on high standards appears to have been vindicated. Rather than fewer minority enrollees at CUNY, the number has grown. And in a development no one could have predicted, an impressive number of Gotham’s best and brightest have chosen CUNY’s new Honor’s College above even Ivy League competitors.

    Success has not silenced Mr. Badillo’s critics. Rather than embrace his advice and act on it, the Hispanic political leadership is ratcheting up the criticism. In reaction to the tough love Mr. Badillo advocates in “One Nation, One Standard,” according to the New York Post, the Bronx Democratic leader, Assemblyman Jose Rivera “blamed Badillo for educational shortcomings of Latinos — because Badillo held city leadership positions overseeing education under Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Ed Koch. ‘He was part of the system that miseducated our children for many years. We are constantly being shortchanged,’ Mr. Rivera said.”

    Another slap came from Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo, who for years enjoyed near total control over schools in the south Bronx’s underperforming District 7 under the old decentralized system. “Badillo is an insult to the Hispanic community. I am ashamed of him. . . . He’s blanquito,” Ms. Arroyo said, according to the Post. She used the Latino equivalent of taunts of “acting white” that are sometimes directed at high achieving students in the African-American community.

    Yet the words of a prominent African-American underscore Mr. Badillo’s concern. According to Newsweek, Oprah Winfrey, who has just opened a school in South Africa for young women, became discouraged by her efforts to improve the lot of poor children here. “I became so frustrated with visiting inner-city schools that I just stopped going,” Ms. Winfrey said as quoted by Newsweek. “The sense that you need to learn just isn’t there.”

    The concerns of both Mr. Badillo and Ms. Winfrey seem to be borne out by a statistic that came out just last week from the city’s Department of Education. Of 184,790 students eligible for free tutoring under the No Child Left Behind law, virtually all are poor and a minority. But only 50,524, or just 27.3%, are taking advantage of the service,

    The blame for this shocking statistic cannot be laid at the feet of the “system.” Rather it is time for parents to step up to the plate and begin to take responsibility and advantage. That is the message Mr. Badillo eloquently delivers in his important book — a courageous message for parents who want their children to succeed.

    Vouchers Anyone?
    The New York Sun (January 9, 2007)

    Question: Since when are Puerto Ricans considered immigrants?

    I was under the impression that we are American citizens, but a December 29 Wall Street Journal review of Herman Badillo’s book called him an immigrant. “Why one Hispanic immigrant is being trashed for his blueprint for success,” it read.

    Mr. Badillo was the first Puerto Rican-born person elected to Congress, and he has a long, respected history of public service. Originally a liberal Democrat, he came to his senses and realized that the social programs he once supported had done more harm than good.

    I have long decried the bilingualism in the public school system, a program for which Mr. Badillo was responsible. “When I supported it in Congress, the idea was to teach the kids to learn to speak English faster,” he explained on the Fox News program “Your World With Neil Cavuto.” “In fact, it has been distorted and now we have bilingual education, so- called, going on for two years, four years, six years, eight years.”

    Before I received a copy of Mr. Badillo’s book “One Nation, One Standard,” I was getting reports from the National Institute for Latino Policy about the Hispanic community’s reaction to it. Most of the comments were negative, with people accusing Mr. Badillo of being a traitor to his community. The WSJ article compares what is happening to Mr. Badillo with the flak Bill Cosby still receives for lecturing the black community on the personal responsibility it bears for much of its ills.

    I get these reports from the National Institute for Latino Policy because I am Hispanic and it is assumed that I am concerned about how politics affects my community. I am invited to galas honoring Democrats whom I blame for much of the stagnation in my community.

    Mr. Badillo is never on these lists because he is now a Republican, and conservatives who share my values are never part of the Hispanic leadership. Just as Justice Thomas and Secretary of State Rice are “Uncle Tom” and “Aunt Jemima,” conservative Hispanics who dare to demand community responsibility are branded “coconut” and “traitor.”

    Much of Mr. Badillo’s book is misinterpreted and bruited about as an insult to Hispanic parents, who, he says, should get more involved with their children’s education.

    When Mr. Badillo appeared on CNN’s “Paula Zahn Now,” he was challenged by a panel member, Sandra Guzman of the New York Post. Ms. Guzman said he was generalizing and that to blame Hispanic parents for our children failing “is divisive and dangerous.”

    Why should urging parents to be more involved with their children’s education be considered dangerous? Mr. Badillo’s critics are alleging that the statistics he’s citing, of a 50% dropout rate among Hispanic youth, are incorrect.

    On this I have to agree. That rate doesn’t take into account the high percentage of Hispanics who attend private school, where the dropout rate is negligible. Mr. Badillo seems reluctant to lay the blame on the schools, but that’s exactly where he needs to put it.

    In his memoir, he recalls not getting much encouragement about his education from his family. This made me think back to my early years. Neither of my parents attended high school, but I was sent to a free parochial school where discipline ensured my attention. One received an education through osmosis rather than free will; there was no such thing as a PTA.

    When Mr. Badillo was in school, the New York public schools were just as proficient and adamant about the learning process. Our families had confidence that the schools would do their job.

    That is no longer the case. The New York public school system operates on a $14 billion budget yet fails miserably and begs for more money.

    The new teachers’ contract the United Federation of Teachers just ratified sets a milestone of disparity between public and parochial teachers. The highest- level parochial school teachers are outpaid by the UFT’s top-scale earners by a margin of two to one. Yet surprisingly, not many teachers are switching over. One teacher interviewed for the Staten Island Advance said she enjoyed fostering the spiritual growth of children without having to be politically correct.

    A former vicar of education for the Archdiocese of New York, Monsignor Peter Bergin, explains why. “They want to teach in that kind of an atmosphere. There is a sacrifice, [but] a lot of people see it as a ministry.”

    If all New York City teachers felt the same, I assure you, Mr. Badillo, every community would benefit. Vouchers, anyone?


    Felix Lopez: Thank you for sharing these very interesting articles and for taking the lead in promoting a community-wide dialogue on this very important matter.

    Hector Lopez: Todas las nacionalidades que vienen a este pais hacen lo mismo con el ingles y su lenguage nativo. Y porque se le da tanta importancia a eso de “spanglish” como si fueramos los unicos. Eso de ” spanglish” no existe, es simplemente la falta de conciencia nacional lo que hace que las personas sean descuidados como hablan. El unico que se puede decir que habla “spanglish” es Herman Badillo que habla como Frank Purdue, no tiene verguenza.

    Felix Leo: Perhaps with all the comments that have been said and those to be said, once people actually read the book, we can get a sponsor (or two, three) to organized a televised and web- cast public/community forum on the subject not just of the book or Badillo but, also the ‘state of Latinos in Education”. ¿Que piensas de esa idea? El Centro@Hunter College or JJay College would both be good locations as would locations like the Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center’s Theater.

    S. Manzano: ALL PARENTS NEED TO BECOME INVOLVED IN THE EDUCATION OF THEIR CHILDREN. My Puerto Rican child attends a Riverdale school, where most of the students in her school are NOT LATINO, and the attendance at PTA meetings is almost non-existent. SO SHAME ON HIM!

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  10. Herman Badillo’s remarks and the wonderful collection of comments has impressed me and disconcerted me greatly. Is the “new Badillo” that Serrano talks about playing to the non-latino or is he “telling it as it is”? I think it is a little of both. It is foolish for identity groups to be angry with those like Badillo and Cosby who express opinions that “air their dirty laundry in public”. I have lived most of my life in Latin America. My kids were raised speaking Spanish at home. We have been in touch with all the aspects of Latino culture in Latin America, in Texas, In New Mexico and here in NY. Our neighbors, friends and compadres have been the poor ghetto families, the rich immigrants, and the middle class immigrants. We lived in a small town in Bolivia, in a slum in Lima, in the projects in Texas, among rednecks in Albuquerque, among the rich in Quito, and among ethnic whites in Queens. Everything that Badillo says is true and everything he says in false. If it was difficult for him to generalize about his own Boricua compatriots. It is impossible to generalize about all the Hispanos in “El Gran Sancocho” que es Nueva YOrk.

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