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English needs to be like Chips and Salsa in Texas

27 Oct

Photo Courtesy of

By: Cristian Sandoval

This being my first blog for Yes al Inglés, I wanted to make sure to share the reason why we started the program and why the organization is so committed to the English language.

A year ago MATT’s Executive Director approached me with the idea of creating an online English language program to help developing economies attract foreign investment.  The idea of teaching English intrigued me, and the challenge of developing a comprehensive program to teach English online was really exiting.

In 1985 UNESCO wrote a report in regards to why Mexico was failing to educate its elementary school children. It was failing for the same reason you don’t see many Mexican restaurants in Western Europe…the system lacked the appropriate infrastructure to supply the students with the right tools. Try to find black beans and jalapeno peppers in the Czech republic.

Yes al Inglés came to solve a lot of infrastructure challenges for teaching English. By being online it reduces the dependency on classrooms, it’s easy to follow, makes it easy for students to learn without the need for a teacher, and we tried to make it entertaining and fun for the students. Best of all, the low cost makes it accessible to everyone… like chips and salsa in Texas!

There is a lot to do and we have many opportunities. Let this be the start of our journey to teach English to developing economies.

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Mexicans Find Reasons to Stay in Mexico

11 Jul

Believe it or not, Mexican migration al Norte has been reduced to a trickle of its former self and U.S. businesses are begging to stay in Mexico’s border region. Why? Education and increasing job options in Mexico are dulling the allure of an increasingly treacherous trek northward. The Mexican economy is prospering significantly faster than the United States. In less than a week, the New York Times has published two similar articles about Mexico. The common denominator in each? Mexico’s socio-economic prosperity despite violence. The article, “Better Lives for Mexicans Cut Allure of Going North“, provides insight:

Courtesy of iStockphoto


A growing body of evidence suggests that a mix of developments — expanding economic and educational opportunities, rising border crime and shrinking families — are suppressing illegal traffic as much as economic slowdowns or immigrant crackdowns in the United States…But Mexican immigration has always been defined by both the push (from Mexico) and the pull (of the United States). The decision to leave home involves a comparison, a wrenching cost-benefit analysis, and just as a Mexican baby boom and economic crises kicked off the emigration waves in the 1980s and ’90s, research now shows that the easing of demographic and economic pressures is helping keep departures in check.

An article titled, “Despite Violence, U.S. Firms Expand in Mexico“, explains:

When the latest bloody headlines from the drug war in Mexico reach headquarters in New York, Ken Chandler, the manager of an American electronics manufacturing plant here, jumps on the phone… He is not begging to come home. He is begging to stay… Despite the bleak outlook the drug war summons, the Mexican economy is humming along, not without warning signs, but growing considerably faster than that of the United States…The result is a boomlet in jobs in some of Mexico’s hardest-hit cities, a bright spot in an otherwise bleak stream of shootouts, departing small businesses and fear of random death.

Senator Durbin’s Office: First-Ever Hearing on DREAM Act Tomorrow

27 Jun

DREAMers are back and they’re stronger than ever! Senator Durbin (D-IL) has announced the “first-ever hearing on the DREAM Act” happening tomorrow at 10am ET.  Watch it live here!

On his website:

Senator Durbin (D-IL)


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced today that he will chair the first-ever Senate hearing on the DREAM Act next Tuesday, June 28th, at 10:00 am ET. The hearing will be in room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building.

“I’ve been working on the DREAM Act for over ten years,” Durbin said. “In that time, it’s been reported out of committee by a large bipartisan margin, passed the House of Representatives, and received a bipartisan majority vote in the Senate, only to fall because of a filibuster. I’ll convene the first-ever Senate hearing on this bill next week to discuss how the DREAM Act will make our country stronger by giving undocumented students a chance to earn legal status if they came here as children, are long-term U.S. residents, have good moral character, and complete two years of college or military service in good standing.”

Durbin will chair the hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security. The hearing will be webcast live on the Judiciary committee’s website.

The following witnesses will testify: Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano; Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan; Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Dr. Clifford Stanley; DREAM Student, Ola Kaso; Lt. Colonel (retired) Margaret Stock; and Director of Research for the Center for Immigration Studies, Steven Camarota. “

Will this lead to fresh discussion or continued frustration? What has to happen for “progress” in favor of DREAMers? How can we define progress?

Hilary Clinton Takes Latin America off Back Burner

24 May

By Tina Kosikowski @

In the past month, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has taken Latin America off the back burner and back into the spotlight through a series of speeches and engagements intended to mend relations with a region not prioritized by Washington D.C. and policy makers.

Image courtesy of: New York Times

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton with the presidents from Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, left, from Chile, Sebastian Pinera, second right, and Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, during the investiture ceremony of the new Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff in Brasília in January. COURTESY OF: Fernando Bizerra Jr/European Pressphoto Agency

Following President Obama’s recent trip to Latin America, Secretary Clinton has spoken repeatedly on behalf of inter-american relations and Mexican-American leadership. She addressed the Council of the Americas at Washington’s Conference of the Americas, hosted a dinner attended by the former presidents of  Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Panama and El Salvador, and has even promoted educational exchange in the Americas through the initiative called One Hundred Thousand Strong in the Americas.

Commentary on the Washington Conference of the Americas states,

“’There is power in our proximity,’ said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her address to the Washington Conference. The secretary referred not just to geography, but also integrated economies, shared values in terms of democracy and human rights, and common culture across the Americas. She noted that, as the United States seeks to rebuild its own economy, it looks to its partners in the region. ‘For our security and strategic interests, we have to design an architecture of cooperation, and we are looking more and more to increasingly capable partners in the hemisphere,’ she said.”

Hear Secretary Clinton’s remarks for yourself. Is this genuine interest in inter-american relations or timely strategy in light of the upcoming elections? Get informed, decide for yourself.

Listen to remarks about President Obama’s trip by Dan Restrepo.

Crisis in US Schools: Failing Grades on Civics Exam

4 May

Test results released Wednesday revealed that fewer than half of American eighth graders knew the purpose of the Bill of Rights on the most recent national civics examination, and only one in 10 demonstrated acceptable knowledge of the checks and balances among the legislative, executive and judicial branches, according to test results released on Wednesday.

Apparently their civics literacy doesn’t improve in later years, either: three-quarters of high school seniors who took the National Assessment of Educational Progress test were unable to demonstrate civic skills like identifying the effect of United States foreign policy on other nations or naming a power granted to Congress by the Constitution.

The Department of Education administered the tests, known as the nation’s report card, to 27,000 4th-, 8th- and 12th-grade students last year. Questions cover themes including how government is financed, what rights are protected by the Constitution and how laws are passed.

As it turns out, the majority of grade levels dropped in their average test scores by about 3-5 points. What this means is that a mere quarter of 4th- and 12th-grade students, and about one-fifth of 8th graders ranked at the proficient or advanced levels.

The results confirm an alarming and continuing trend that civics in America is in decline,” said Charles N. Quigley, executive director of the Center for Civic Education, a nonprofit group based in California. “During the past decade or so, educational policy and practice appear to have focused more and more upon developing the worker at the expense of developing the citizen.”

One bright spot in the results was that Hispanic students, who make up a growing proportion of the country’s population and student body, narrowed the gap between their scores and those of non-Hispanic white students. On average, Hispanic eighth-graders scored 137 and non-Hispanic whites 160. That 23-point gap was down from 29 points in 2006. Among high school seniors, the gap narrowed to 19 points from 24 in 2006.

We face difficult challenges at home and abroad,” said Sandra Day O’Connor, the former Supreme Court justice, who last year founded, a nonprofit group that teaches students civics through Web-based games and other tools. “Meanwhile divisive rhetoric and a culture of sound bites threaten to drown out rational dialogue and debate. We cannot afford to continue to neglect the preparation of future generations for active and informed citizenship.

Wondering if YOU would pass a basic civics test? Take this survey and see:

Full Civic Literacy Exam (from our 2008 survey)