Letter from the President

Dear ILACHE Members,

2011 has been another challenging year. The higher education community is still navigating out of the economic downturn that troubles our state and country. As many of you know, the shortage in funding of the MAP Grant continues to act as an obstacle for our students. Illinois state budget cuts to MAP have adversely impacted Latino and African American communities that constitute the most underrepresented sectors in higher education.  

We recently provided a formal response to the Illinois Higher Education Performance Funding Steering Committee.  The twelve hour round trip to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale was long but worth it since we were the only Latino voice at the meeting. We invite you to join us at our 20th Annual Conference where we will be addressing many important questions that will impact the future of higher education, ILACHE, and the communities we serve.  It will be hosted by DePaul University this year on Friday, March, 23, 2012.   Our conference theme is Twenty Years: History, Transitions, and Empowerment.  It promises to be a very memorable event.   We invite you to visit our website, www.ilache.com and click on the conferene  link.  Hasta pronto! 

Heads They Win, Tails You Lose: The Elite Strategy to Shrink the Middle Class

-          Leonard G. Ramirez, Ph.D.
       Obama’s retreat from the electoral mandate to reverse George Bush’s pro-war, pro-corporate, and socially conservative agenda quickly transformed him from a “Yes we can/Si se puede” candidate to a presidential mendicant, grateful for whatever the Republicans choose to drop into his begging bowl.  Military escalation, corporate bailouts and tax cuts for the super rich, and a willingness to shred the middle and working class safety net might soon comprise the Obama legacy.  While initially unexpected, the pattern has become so familiar that many have begun to doubt if Obama ever really was the great liberal hope, the chosen one, destined to put the populist soul back into an increasingly heartless and compromised Democratic Party. Like Bill Clinton before him, Obama came into the Oval Office with a Kennedy mystique and an Ivy League confidence but, regrettably, with an increasingly apparent Reagan Lite political agenda.       

Not long after Hillary’s defeat, the army of Clintonites returned to power through the back door. This should have been the first major clue that while not a Blue Dog, Obama was less of a reformer than a follower of the Democratic Leadership Council, a party faction dedicated to creating a “third way” through bipartisan consensus or, as some would put it, out-and-out capitulation to the corporate/banking elite and their Congressional representatives. Bill Clinton is perhaps the DLC’s most celebrated politician, the man who gave us NAFTA, workfare, and a business friendly legislative policy environment, which eventually gained the Clintons many friends on Wall Street. 

The DLC national policy giveaway is evident in local government as well. It is no surprise to see states with Scott Walker type Republican governors and conservative legislators wheel the policy guillotine into legislative houses, preparing to drop the blade and demolish pensions, unions, public education, and a host of social programs. However, in states like Illinois where Democrats retain a legislative majority and the governorship, it is Democrats, in concert with Republicans, who are attempting to carry out many of the same conservative, anti-middle class policies as their Republican counterparts. 

Looting with the Lights On is the title of one of Naomi Klein’s most recent articles on the elite agenda to strip benefits away from the middle and working classes. What stands in the way of the ransacking of the public coffers are some brave members of the Democratic Progressive Caucus, many of whom refused to sign on to the latest deficit deal and the erosion of the safety net. Long term, however, what is necessary to stop the funneling of tax dollars to billionaires and the destruction of the public safety net might be an Arab Spring in the U.S. that might act to resuscitate our own failing democracy (This article was written prior to the rise of the Occupy Wall Street and its local expression, Occupy Chicago). 

Student Leader

Hugo Jacobo
Hugo Jacobo is a first generation Mexican-American born and raised in Chicago, Illinois.  He is an honors student who is currently finishing a political science degree with double minors in Latino and Latin American studies and Spanish at Northern Illinois University (NIU).

Congratulations ILACHE Scholarship Winners

Congratulations to Karina Garcia and Juan D. Robles, winners of the 2011 ILACHE Scholarship. Karina is a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she is pursuing a sociology degree. Her contributions to the Latino community include being  active in the DREAM Gala Committee, a UIC student development initiative focused on assisting immigrant students, the College Fair Committee of the Pilsen Neighbors Community Council, and involvement in voting initiatives. She participated in a election phone banking program during October of 2010 while an intern with the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI).

Juan attended Lindblom Math and Science Academy. He is passionate about science and volunteers with the American Cancer Society (ACS). He became involved with this organization during the seventh grade because “I wanted to learn more about cancer and  worked to create awareness about it during a summer festival, in Little Village, a low-income community.” His experience with ACS allowed  him to stress the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle to those in the community. He hopes one day to contribute to finding a cure for a disease that takes so many lives each day. Juan plans to pursue a pre-medicine curriculum to prepare to become a physician.

Inspiring Students in Our Local Communities

Photo courtesy of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science
As Latino youth pursue higher education opportunities, they face several challenges, including financial cost and the lack of role models. The Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science hopes to address some of these challenges by piloting the Impart New Scholastic Potential and Illuminate Rosalind Franklin Education (INSPIRE) Summer Research Program.

Illinois DREAM Act Signed into Law

Chicago, IL – On August 1, 2011 at Benito Juarez Community Academy, Governor Pat Quinn signed into law the Illinois DREAM Act, a provision that will support college aspirations of children of immigrants in Illinois.

Before heading to Governor Quinn’s desk for approval, the bill (SB 2185; Cullerton/Acevedo – Public Act 97-0233) passed the state Senate in early May by a wide margin (45-11) that involved bipartisan support.  In the state House, it was approved in a much closer vote (60-54).
Illinois is the first state to approve a state-specific DREAM Act.