• IDRA Newsletter • May 2003


Mr. José Angel Pescador, former Secretary of Education for Mexico and former Consul General for Mexico in Los Angeles, was honored at a recent reception because of his exemplary leadership in education. The reception was hosted by the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA), the Mexican and American Solidarity Foundation and the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

As Consul General for Mexico in Los Angeles, Mr. Pescador identified the need to find qualified bilingual education teachers in non-traditional areas. Less than half of this country’s 3.8 million children who are learning English are being served in bilingual or English as a second language programs, and even fewer are in well-designed, well implemented programs taught by teachers certified to educate these students.

Mr. Pescador recognized the potential of normalistas in our communities to fill this need and formed new partnerships between teacher preparation programs in the United States and Mexico. Normalistas are individuals who have teacher certification in Mexico and are now legal U.S. residents. Many are working in service jobs due to the barriers they face in obtaining certification to teach in this country.

IDRA expanded this visionary concept and created Project Alianza to reach more normalistas across the U.S. Southwest as well as teacher aides who are bilingual and traditional students in teacher preparation programs in universities. The project is equipping educational systems to prepare teachers and other educators to perform effectively in bilingual, binational and bicultural contexts.

The Mexican and American Solidarity Foundation has worked to strengthen collaboration between the United States and Mexico, has created powerful learning experiences in Mexico for Alianza participants and has fostered sister university relationships between schools in the two countries.

Alianza is enabling hundreds of teachers to become leaders in bilingual and bicultural settings, impacting thousands of children in bilingual classrooms. There are more than 300 Project Alianza students becoming leaders in bilingual and bicultural settings. Seventy Alianza graduates are positively impacting more than 6,000 children in bilingual classrooms and reducing the shortage of bilingual education teachers in Texas alone by 10 percent.

“Mr. Pescador has found ways throughout his public life to make a difference in educational institutions,” said Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA executive director. “Alianza has become a vehicle for utilizing the human, social and economic capital that is so rich in many of our communities.”

Eight universities in the United States, including the University of Texas at San Antonio, are expanding their bilingual curricula to enhance the abilities of teachers, parents, administrators, school board members and community leaders to collaborate effectively.

“As one of the leaders in educating teachers in Texas, UTSA is committed to increasing the much-needed supply of bilingual educators,” said UTSA President Ricardo Romo. “Our institution joins all of San Antonio to honor Mr. Pescador for his leadership and dedication to education.”

Project Alianza is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The other participating universities are: California State University at Bakersfield; California State University at Long Beach; Southwest Texas State University; Texas A&M International University; Texas Women’s University; University of Texas at El Paso; and University of Texas – Pan American. Arizona State University is participating in a research capacity.

For more information on Alianza visit the web site (http://www.idra.org/services_to_educator/services_to_educator/alianza//) or contact Linda Cantu at IDRA (210-444-1710).

Comments and questions may be directed to IDRA via e-mail at feedback@idra.org.

[©2003, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the May 2003 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]