Latino Education Essay

3954 words - 16 pages

IntroductionPopulation increase is the foundation of the developing scholarly and popular interest in Latino1 politics. This began when the release of the 1980 U.S. census documented the first wave of what would become a continuous, massive inflow of Latino immigrants. Between 1970 and 1980, the number of Hispanics in the United States increased from 9.6 to 14.6 million. Because of immigration, high birth rates among the second generation, and a substantial Mexican- and Puerto Rican-origin native-born population, by 2002, the Bureau of the Census reported that Latinos totaled 38.8 million, which makes them the nation's largest minority. Beginning in the 1980s, political parties and other institutions became attentive to the potential political consequences of these new numbers. Political science as a discipline, however, has been slow to focus its attention on how this growing population might affect the polity. Do the models that govern the analysis of the population as a whole, or of subgroups such as African Americans, explain Hispanic political behavior? Do well-established theories of immigrant incorporation apply to Latinos? Do Latino attitudes about foreign policy and public policy in general reflect American values, or are they rooted in and linked to the values and interests of Latinos' countries of origin? Rather than address such questions, the discipline has, until very recently, been uninterested in the Hispanic political world. This attitude is beginning to change. P.S.: Political Science and Politics published a review of Latino politics literature in 2000. Moreover, there is finally sufficient research on Latino public opinion to merit a chapter in a leading public opinion text. Because of the discipline's recently developed interest, the relevant literature is fledgling rather than mature. The remainder of this essay reviews what we know and what we need to learn about major aspects of Hispanic politics. (Acosta 183-198)It draws almost exclusively on political science literature published since 1990, when the most significant theoretical and substantive advances in the field began to develop. Theorizing about Latino political life has focused on whether the Latino political experience can be accommodated within the traditional pluralist model or whether it requires a distinct approach. Fuch's (1990) encyclopedic The American Kaleidoscope strongly argues for the former. Hero (1992) rejects this approach and argues instead that Latinos confront "two-tiered pluralism"; his model recognizes that even though Latinos have increased their political standing, there are strong limits to the amount of political power they can attain and to the arenas in which they may exercise it. Hero also acknowledges that the group's political experiences vary as a function of national origin, and this makes theorizing about "Latinos" extremely hazardous. A second question concerns the validity of pan ethnic concepts such as Latino or Hispanic. Do these...

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