• by Aurelio M. Montemayor, Ed.D. • IDRA Newsletter • March 2014 •Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed.

Family leadership is most powerful at improving education for all children when collective efforts create solutions for the common good. This is one of the principles of IDRA’s Family Leadership in Education process. Families are concerned about the quality of education their children are receiving. They are suspicious of any attempts to track their children in non-college paths. Rather than lower standards under the rubric of “college is not for everyone” they want their children supported and successfully taught to have the skills and courses necessary for college acceptance and eventually degree completion.

In Texas, graduation standards are returning to various tracks, many of which will not lead to college-acceptable transcripts when students receive their high school diploma. The forces that be and the actions of the elected officials have created an array of “choices” that, given institutional biases and inertia, will result in large numbers of economically disadvantaged students and children of color being pushed into tracks that will not lead to college.

Parents in south Texas who are participating in IDRA’s PTA Comunitarios and are part of a larger network of community organizations, Equal Voice, have been requesting information, receiving training and informing their neighbors about the dangers in the recently passed regressive policies.

They have created checklists for families to evaluate the schools their children attend. Their questions begin with: “Is preparation for college and college success the principal goal of the school? Is the school promoting the college track endorsement for all students?” And they proceed to much more specific items that give families evidence of the support and motivation students receive for college preparation.

These same families requested and got specific information on what kinds of careers are available with a bachelor’s degree and the average salaries for the different professions. They reviewed more than 180 professional titles in nine discipline areas. All were amazed at the information. A common sentiment was the lack of such information provided by schools to students and parents.

The energy coming from communities that are poor and Spanish speaking flies in the face of the common prejudices and institutional assessments made of those families and their neighborhoods. As the State Board of Education was deliberating about weakening course requirements these parents developed the following statement.

PTA Comunitarios Call for Algebra II Requirement

  • “The PTA Comunitarios in Alamo, Pharr and Brownsville, Texas, do not agree with the petitions to exclude Algebra II as a required subject in high school.
  • The PTA Comunitarios support all students being prepared for college as modeled by the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school district.
  • We support the 4×4 requirements that were in place before the new guidelines (4×4 refers to the previous requirements for Texas students to take four courses each in math, science, English and social studies).
  • We are concerned that our children who come from the colonias will be counseled into tracks that are not of college-preparation quality.
  • We think all of our children should be considered college-material and should be taught accordingly.”

This is just one example of many where a collective effort is presenting a solution to the under-education and mis-education of children.

Aurelio M. Montemayor, Ed.D., is a senior education associate in IDRA Field Services. Comments and questions may be directed to him via email at feedback@idra.org.

[©2014, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the March 2014 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.]