Despite the gradual increase in numbers of Latinos in higher education, in Illinois there is a disparity in representation of Latino faculty and staff. In 2002 the Illinois Board of Higher Education indicated that hiring biases were likely one source of failure in increasing numbers of minorities. Beginning with narrow advertising of the position, racially homogenous search committees, biases in judging candidates, and flawed interview processes, the eventual hiring of Latinos is an irregularity.25
Data from 2001 reveals that the number of Latino faculty members in Illinois educational institutions was minimal. Community colleges claimed 1.4 percent of Latino faculty representation; private institutions revealed 1.9 percent, and public universities boasted 2.5 percent Latino faculty representation.26
The 2004 poverty data for the State of Illinois reveal that although Latinos comprised 12.1 percent of the population, 16.4 percent lived in poverty as defined by the state. People with disabilities fared worse. Of persons with disabilities, 16.3 percent living in poverty were non-Latino Whites, whereas the rate for Latinos was 28 percent. Unfortunately, senior citizens are not immune from being affected by poverty. Of seniors, 6.4 percent living in poverty were nonLatino Whites, but 17.1 percent were Latinos.27
A trend in Illinois and many other areas of the United States is the English-only movement. There has been significant growth in the Latino Spanish-speaking population in Carpentersville, Illinois. It has bred tension among residents with village officials proposing English-only ordinances to effectively erase Spanish documents in the village.28 It has been widely reported that the real target of this ordinance are those perceived to be illegal migrants who at best refuse to accul-turate.29 In 1923 Illinois passed legislation making âœAmerican,â not âœEnglish,â the official state language. In 1969 the law was amended because of the obvious inability to punish Illinoisans who continued to use English.30
Although Latinos in Illinois are high in numbers and in a position to affect legislation and elections, voter registration for Latino citizens has been exceeding low. It lags behind registration rates for Blacks and Whites. Nevertheless, although data is not complete, turnout of Latinos registered to vote in Illinois elections during presidential election years is impressive. Voter turnout for Latinos ranged from 76.5 to 92.2 percent between 1984 and 2004, and for some of the elections that took place in those years it surpassed that of White voters.31 Illinois politicians have been paying close attention to those numbers. With a little over half of Latino residents who are eligible to vote having registered, a surge in voter registration in combination with the traditionally high voter turnout will affect the outcome of any political race.