Legislative politics blocked Hastings
San Jose Mercury News
Jan. 18, 2005

By Abel Maldonaldo

The Senate Rules Committee's defeat of the appointment of Reed Hastings to the State Board  of Education last week had nothing to do with the education of our youth.

It had nothing to do with what is best for the state.

And it had nothing to do with Latino interests.

Rather, it had everything to do with politics. Not the textbook politics we teach our kids in school, but the back-room deals we hide from them.

Back to center

It is a shining example of how outlandish our state Legislature has become and why we need to change the way our representatives are elected. Unfortunately, politicians looking out for their interests defeated the open-primary initiative last year. Yet I maintain hope that a new type of redistricting system can rescue our state and bring us back in line with everyday Californians and back to the center.

Hastings, a moderate Democrat who had a broad range of support from his own party, had committed the unforgivable sin of crossing the ``Latino Caucus'' and its out-of-touch position on bilingual education. As a result, someone who has been a committed advocate of our children's education has now been forced from office because he is notempathetic enough for the Latino Caucus.

As a Hispanic Californian senator who is bilingual, I take offense tothat. I know how important it is for our children to learn English. I also know how important it isfor our children to learn the language of their parents and their grandparents whether that language is Spanish, Chinese or Italian.

I will never forget what my father taught me as boy. ``Son, to achievethe American Dream you need to first learn to speak, write and read English.''

He understood this then, as do the countless immigrants who come to theUnited States from around the world today.

Furthermore, the concept that the Latino Caucus has a monopoly on Latinoissues and sensitivities in the state is false.

It is apparent not only from the 2004 election, where President Bushreceived 40 percent of the Latino vote, but also from increasing amounts of polling data.

Latinos no longer vote in a Democratic bloc. We are a diverse group whofeel passionate about the issues that affect our community and support those who stand up forour interests and have
shown so at the ballot box.

Road to success

I have not forgotten how hard it is working in the fields. I know therisks that people take so their children can have a better life. Latinos want their children to learnEnglish so they can go to school, get an education and make a living with their minds and not withtheir backs. That is the same dream every parent has regardless of ethnic background. They want their child to have it better than they did. In America, the road to success is labeled inEnglish. As representatives of the people, it is our duty to teach them to read the signs.

SEN. ABEL MALDONALDO, R-San Luis Obispo, represents District 15 in the California Senate.  He wrote this article for the Mercury News.