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Tell It Like It Is

Education Is Not King Along the Texas-Mexico Border

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Thomas Segel is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or

December 20, 2010 | 1,690 views | 2 comments

Harlingen, Texas, December 20, 2010: Americans have just received a report from the U.S. Census Bureau that those of us living along the border feel are decades late in being released. The majority of Texas counties along the border with Mexico have the least educated population in the nation. From Brownsville to El Paso, county after county claim to have populations where large percentages of residents have less than a high school diploma.

In the Rio Grande Valley, Starr County ranks at the top of the list among counties with less than 50% of the people more than 25 years of age who have obtained a high school diploma. Just over 46% of the residents over 25 years of age have completed high school. However, it should also be noted that county improved its educational level by 12 points in the past ten years.

In the Brownsville or Cameron County reporting area 62 percent of adults over age 25 have graduated from high school. El Paso County in the far west of Texas has about 69% of its adults in the high school graduation category.

This may come as a big surprise to most of America. For those of us who make the border communities our home, it is something we have been telling anyone who would listen for decades. Not only is the border area under educated, it is also under employed. Poverty seems to be the rule along the border, not the exception. Almost a third of the population in Border Counties can report family incomes of less than $25,000 a year. It should also be noted that most of this is predominately a Hispanic population that has settled in the border region as a gateway address in the United States. By an overwhelming majority, these immigrants have arrived from Mexico seeking to improve their lives. The people come from a country, which until very recently only mandated a sixth grade education.

The media and Washington’s liberal wonks keep lamenting that Texas could solve the state’s under-education problem by “investing” more in the educational process. These same people have not even taken the time to discover more than 44% of the Lone Star State’s total revenue is devoted to educating its people.

America, in this high-tech age cannot afford to have a huge segment of its population lacking the multiple skills it takes to prosper. At a time when even entry level jobs require people to have computer skills, mathematical ability and advanced reading levels, those lacking the same fall by the wayside.

For the 36 years I have lived and worked in the Rio Grande Valley, this problem of under education and under employment has been a major concern in every city and town. Have things improved? Very little, if at all. For example, working with an organization that addresses the poverty problem, “Loves and Fishes of the Rio Grande Valley”, I have seen the facility grow from a small storefront where those in need obtained a single meal during the working week, to a center where the charity provides shelter for homeless individuals and families, feeds 13,000 meals a month seven days a week, passes out food bags to needy families, educates people in computer skills and GED requirements, has a continuing job shop, hosts a family emergency agency and is also the headquarters for a family crisis center.

Why do such conditions exist you might ask? Could the reason be lack of border enforcement and the runaway problem of illegal immigration? The reader may note we have not even addressed Mexico’s drug wars that are driving more and more of its population northward. Nor have we touched on the increased crime rate in border communities that is a direct result of under education, under employment, illegal immigration and narcotics.

In the United States, education was always King. Then the political left of the country decided it would be easier to control the masses if they could dumb down everyone by degrading the learning process. We now have dropped to 18th among developed countries educating its people. The migration problem that keeps growing along our southern border is doing nothing to improve that standing.

Semper Fidelis
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Your Opinions and Comments

Bill Betzen  
Dallas, TX  
December 21, 2010 7:20am
I neglected to say that this project needs at least one teacher to volunteer to run the project. It is preferable to have a history teacher or language arts teacher who can most easily design lesson plans for such a historic ... More ›

Bill Betzen  
Dallas, TX  
December 21, 2010 7:12am
Mr. Segel, I identify with your agony regarding our national dropout crisis. I've worked with youth in Dallas over 40 years. I am now certain this crisis is caused by a lack of awareness among our youth of their own history ... More ›

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