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Who We Are

JAC Remembered English

José Angel Cárdenas
The following is reprinted from the rededication plaques at the José Angel Cárdenas Early Childhood Center , June 16, 2010

All children are valuable; None is expendable.


The Student and Patriot
Dr. Cárdenas started college at the age of 15 at the University of Texas . He earned a master’s in education from Our Lady of the Lake University and a doctorate in education from UT. He later was a professor at both universities as well as at the University of Texas at
San Antonio . From 1951 to 1953, Dr. Cárdenas served in the U.S. Army Infantry in
Korea .

“The end result of an educational program for minority children – and for all children – is freedom.”


The Educator
As a classroom teacher, Dr. Cárdenas worked in multicultural settings with limited resources. He later was the first Hispanic school superintendent in
San Antonio
, where he constructed the first school in
Texas designed for preschoolers. He recognized the systemic barriers to providing the excellent education he envisioned. He dedicated his life’s work to make his vision a reality.

“A popular song includes the phrase, ‘By your students you will be taught,’ and this phrase has been remarkably true for me, since it was in teaching that I learned the most.”


The Advocate
Dr. Cárdenas founded the Intercultural Development Research Association, dedicated to improving educational opportunities for all children. He was an expert witness or consultant in more than 70 education civil rights cases and is known as the father of
Texas bilingual education. He led decades-long efforts to achieve school finance equity and was instrumental in the Edgewood court cases.

“If students are faltering, failing, or leaving school, then their schools – not the students – need to change in fundamental ways.”


The Visionary
Dr. Cárdenas believes that all children are valuable. His work has moved people to understand cultural diversity and how it is used to enhance or deny opportunities for students. A champion of the most vulnerable children, Dr. Cárdenas played a central role in litigation that ensured that children of undocumented parents were not denied access to education.

“My dream is for an ideal educational system where success and rewards are dependent on the student’s capability and effort and are not constrained by the circumstances of their birth, their family or their environment – an educational system in which all students can and will learn.”

“Every child has the right to a quality education.”