Testimony of Aurelio Montemayor, M.Ed., Senior Education Specialist, Intercultural Development Research Association, Member of the Texas Latino Education Coalition Presented to the Texas State Board of Education, January 28, 2014

The proposed tracking, endorsements and differentiated diplomas plan is not better for our students, it is worse. Couched in the language of giving students choices and helping struggling students at least get a minimum diploma weakens high school curriculum and further institutes tracking of students. “Applied’ courses will quickly return to the diluted courses of the past that are unacceptable to colleges on a transcript.

Children have shown that they will rise to the level of expectation, challenge and support that is provided them.

Schools such as Pharr-San Juan-Alamo – where the majority are Mexican American and mostly economically disadvantaged – have shown, that they can be highly successful by embracing high expectations for all rather than sorting some students into college and others into job training.

Last Saturday at a convening in McAllen, a college president, public school administrators and educators, and many families representing schools from the lower Rio Grande Valley and the Equal Voice Network spoke of their desire for all children in public schools be college prepared, college ready and supported in completing higher education degrees. They also support full and equitable funding of public schools, disturbed that draconian cuts were made in 2011 and schools are still underfunded.

PTA Comunitarios are an alternative grassroots-based form of the traditional parent organization. The PTA Comunitarios in the Texas Rio Grande Valley, know very clearly that under the new curriculum plan, their children from the poorest neighborhoods and colonias will be counseled into tracks not of college-preparation quality.

They call on you for the following:

  • Do not exclude Algebra II as a required subject in high school.
  • Keep the requirements that were in place for the 4×4 curriculum.
  • Support the PSJA model for all students to be prepared for college.
  • All of our children should be considered college-material and taught accordingly.

The Intercultural Development Research Association is an independent, private non-profit organization, led by María Robledo Montecel, Ph.D., dedicated to assuring educational opportunity for every child. At IDRA, we develop innovative research- and experience-based solutions and policies to assure that (1) all students have access to and succeed in high-quality schools, (2) families and communities have a voice in transforming the educational institutions that serve their children, and (3) educators have access to integrated professional development that helps to solve problems, create solutions, and use best practices to educate all students to high standards.

The Texas Latino Education Coalition includes groups such as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), Texas League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), Mexican American School Board Association (MASBA), Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA), Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce (TAMACC), Texas Hispanics Organized for Political Education (HOPE), Texas Association for Bilingual Education (TABE), Texas Association for Chicanos in Higher Education (TACHE), the Cesar E. Chavez Legacy and Educational Foundation, and the Hector P. Garcia G.I. Forum.

PTA Comunitario is a community-based parent-teacher organization whose sole purpose is to collaborate with schools to improve children’s academic outcomes. To date, the PTA Comunitario model has taken root in the Texas Rio Grande Valley among Spanish-speaking, Hispanic, working-class families. The PTA Comunitario model is based on IDRA’s Family Leadership in Education process and decades of experience engaging parents and families in education.