A Latina/o K-12 and Higher Education Policy Agenda in Texas

It is with great honor that I share the Senate Hispanic Caucus (SHC) and Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC) Latina/o K-12 and Higher Education Policy Agenda.

As the Principal Investigator of the research agenda and Co-chair of the SHC/MALC Education Task Force, it has been a privilege to collaborate with the 70 participating organizations and the nearly 200 participants—128 of which are proud Texas bilingual teachers—that took the time to be a part of this process. Their time and commitment to advancing a much-needed paradigm shift in state-level policy is invaluable.

You can view, download, and share the Agenda here: http://issuu.com/txlatinoedpolicy/docs/shc_malc_edu_task_force_agenda_fina/0

When navigating the online site, it’s best to click far right logo with diverging arrows, which lets you enter full-screen mode. This mode will also allow you download and share the Agenda on social media by clicking the “share arrow” next to the circled “x”.

Also consider checking out the Texas Observer’s recent article, “New Agenda for Texas’ Hispanic-Majority Schools.” 

– Patricia D. López, Ph.D.

Texas Latinos and the Politics of Change

I’m proud that my recent Op-Ed piece, “Texas Latinos and the Politics of Change,” was published in the Huffington Post, Latino Voices.  The following is the text:

Much of today’s reporting on Texas public education has increasingly become a narrow overplay of what we already know. Rather than solely recycling stories about the somber trends of Latinos, a question that everyone should be publicly engaged in is: How are leaders in the state of Texas going to respond to its demographic shift?

Yes, Texas is and has been experiencing tremendous demographic shifts, and historical and projected trends showing the disenfranchisement of Texas Latinos in public schools and elsewhere are clear. However, what needs to be clearly articulated to the public are the positions held by current and aspiring leaders, as they pertain to the educational opportunities that will be afforded to this growing majority, and what public policy solutions entail.

In Texas’ current climate, where Latinos comprise over half of all public school students, how one addresses this young, low-income demographic is more an issue of politics than mere data. From a public policy perspective, Latinos should demand to know where their representatives stand.

Young Latinos coming of age in Texas should have a right to a high school diploma, a college degree, and a right to vote. Texas Latinos should have a right to learn their history, preserve their culture, and master multiple languages. As the demands for a college education increase alongside their rapid representation, investments in higher education, student financial aid, and college completion programs for Latinos should be top priorities.

There should be no apologies for differentiating and acknowledging those leaders who feel a responsibility to fairly fund public schools, end high-stakes testing, and hold an expectation that all students be given an opportunity to obtain a college education from those who exonerate themselves. This extends into tackling politically contentious issues, like the scarcity of Latinos as public school teachers, administrators, superintendents, and school board members.

If certain leaders are going to hold no remorse for dictating the daily functions of people in public universities by way of market-based policies, why not confront the scarcity of Latino tenured faculty, staff, and administrators in our public institutions of higher education?

These inequities prompt a legitimate question all leaders should be required to answer: Are Texas Latinos, young and experienced, viewed as viable leaders across every sector of the state?

Educational institutions are noted as primary vehicles utilized to confine the political strength of Latinos. The demographic shift in Texas, and nationally, is old news. There are a whole lot of us — in and out of the public policy arena — who are waiting for some real news. Confronting larger questions as they relate to how our public institutions — and the people who occupy them — are responding to changing demographics are vital for the future of Latinos, the future of Texas, and the future of this country.

At the core of my statement is a call to leadership, at all various levels, to go beyond the mainstream media’s portrayal of all things important to/for growing Latina/o communities in Texas.  This is not meant to cast “the” Latina/o community as a monolithic group.  Rather, it’s an attempt to address important issues that are impacting Texas Latina/os that are often left out of narrow, and monied-interest policy discussions. Structural issues matter.