Thursday, April 28, 2016

Bilingual Parent Institute - Tomorrow Friday, Apr. 29 - Watch the Live Stream 9:00 .a.m. CST

Watch the Live Stream – Bilingual Parent Institute Friday

The event will be livestreamed by NowCastSA at beginning at 9:00 a.m. CST.

Family Leadership for Student Success ~ Liderazgo familiar en pro del éxito estudiantil

This Friday, April 29, 2016, the Annual IDRA La Semana del Niño Parent Institute will be held in San Antonio with more than 250 parents, educators, and community leaders.

This popular annual institute gives families, school district personnel and community groups from across the country the opportunity to network, obtain resources and information, and receive training and bilingual materials on IDRA’s nationally-recognized research-based model for parent leadership in education. This institute is interactive and participatory.

All presentations are bilingual (English-Spanish).

The event will be livestreamed by NowCastSA at beginning at 9:00 a.m. CST.

Host a watch party and join the discussion. Send in questions for the presenters.

You can also follow us on Facebook at or on Twitter at our address @IDRSAedu or using the hashtag #AllMeansAll. 

More information and links to slideshows and resources will be posted here throughout the day:

We look forward to having you join us and others!      

9:00     Kick-off opening

9:30     Biliteracy Pre-k through 12 in Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD
Students and parents present on the benefits and successes of being fully proficient in Spanish and in English when you graduate from high school.

10:30   Comunitario PTA
The Comunitario PTA model is an innovative approach to school-family-community collaboration. A Comunitario PTA is a parent group that is based in a community-based organization, rather than in a single school. And their sole purpose is to collaborate with schools to improve the success of students.

11:30   Mesa Comunitaria ~ Family Leadership Projects
The PTA Comunitarios and other organizations in the lower Rio Grande Valley surveyed more than 1,600 parents about Texas’ new graduation requirements, reported on it and are now conducting new activities to inform the community and to work with their schools to ensure children are on the path to college.

12:30   Full group back together

1:30     End

Friday, April 22, 2016

Recognizing All of America’s S/Heroes - Marian Wright Edelman

Recognizing All of America’s S/Heroes
Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children's Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to  
Every day I wear a pair of medallions around my neck with portraits of two of my role models: Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth. As a child I read books about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. She and indomitable and eloquent slave woman Sojourner Truth represent countless thousands of anonymous slave women whose bodies and minds were abused and whose voices were muted by slavery, Jim Crow, segregation and confining gender roles throughout our nation’s history. Although Harriet Tubman could not read books, she could read the stars to find her way north to freedom. And she freed not only herself from slavery, but returned to slave country again and again through forests and streams and across mountains to lead other slaves to freedom at great personal danger. She was tough. She was determined. She was fearless. She was shrewd and she trusted God completely to deliver her, and other fleeing slaves, from pursuing captors who had placed a bounty on her life.
“’Twa’nt me. ’Twas the Lord. I always told Him, I trust You. I don’t know where to go or what to do, but I expect You to lead me. And He always did…On my underground railroad, I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger,” she was quoted as saying. No train, bus or airline company can match this former slave woman’s safety record. And few of us could match her faithful partnership with God, determination to be free and willingness to help others to be free without thought about self-sacrifice.
Frederick Douglass wrote to Harriet Tubman on August 28, 1868 eloquently summing up her life and that of so many Black women throughout American history: “The difference between us is very marked. Most that I have done and suffered in the service of our cause has been in public, and I have received much encouragement at every step of the way. You, on the other hand, have labored in a private way. I have wrought in the day – you the night. I have had the applause of the crowd and the satisfaction that comes of being approved by the multitude, while the most that you have done has been witnessed by a few trembling, scared, and foot-sore bondmen and women, whom you have led out of the house of bondage, and whose heartfelt ‘God bless you’ has been your only reward. The midnight sky and the silent stars have been the witness of your devotion to freedom.”
Now the entire nation will pay public homage to Harriet Tubman’s devotion to freedom, and also honor Sojourner Truth and other great women and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who never stopped demanding and working to assure that America lives up to its declared creed of freedom, life, liberty, pursuit of happiness and equality for all.
Kudos to the Treasury Department which has announced that Harriet Tubman’s face will grace the front of the redesigned $20 bill, making her the first woman in more than a century and first African American ever to be represented on the face of an American paper note. And it’s wonderful that she will not be alone. Sojourner Truth and women suffragette activists and leaders will be featured on the back of the $10 bill. Great contralto and opera singer Marian Anderson, for whom I was named and about whom great conductor Arturo Toscanini said “yours is a voice such as one hears once in a hundred years,” will be featured on the back of the $5 bill. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt arranged for Marian Anderson to perform at the Lincoln Memorial before 75,000 in 1939 after the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to let her sing at Constitution Hall because she was not White. Mrs. Roosevelt and Dr. King will grace the back of the $5 bill rounding out the inspiring group of determined moral warriors who expanded the civil and human rights of women, people of color and all of us.
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said he had an ‘aha’ moment after recognizing the groundswell of public response to his announcement that the Treasury Department was considering changing the design of the $10 bill. To so many people these new treasury bills will be much more than pieces of paper. For too long and for too many money has been the most powerful symbol of what we value as a nation. Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Marian Anderson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul, Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, and Martin Luther King, Jr. – their faces on American currency will send powerful messages about what – and who – we Americans are, value and strive to become. The new bills also will powerfully remind all Americans and teach our children and grandchildren that Black history and women’s history are American history. They will take us a giant step forward towards healing our nation’s profoundly crippling birth defects of slavery, Native American genocide, and exclusion of all women and nonpropertied men of all races from our electoral process and ensuring full participation in our nation’s life. It is so important to make sure all of our children can see their ancestors pictured on something as basic as the money used every day by countless millions and this will deepen the meaning of how we define success in America.
And to Black children who remain the poorest group in America, I hope Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth become anchor reminders of their great heritage of strength, courage, faith and belief in the equality of women and people of every color. None of us must ever give up fighting for freedom and equality and human dignity however tough the road. I hope all of our children and all of us will be inspired anew by our diverse and rich heritages and cultures as Americans and renew our determination to build a level playing field in our nation for every child and help our nation shine a brighter beacon of hope in a world hungering for moral example.
Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children's Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to
Mrs. Edelman's Child Watch Column also appears each week on The Huffington Post.

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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Civil rights leader Antonio Orendain died TuesdayApril 12, 2016

Civil rights leader Antonio Orendain died Tuesday April 12, 2016

...a great friend, dad, leader   

Civil rights leader Antonio Orendain died Tuesday

James Colburn:    Farm labor organizer Antonio Orendain sits Saturday at his home in Pharr.
STAFF REPORT | Updated  5 hours ago
Antonio “Tony” Orendain, co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union with labor and civil rights leader César Chávez in 1962, died Tuesday at McAllen Heart Hospital. He was 85 years old.
Orendain’s work was remembered Wednesday by activists in the Rio Grande Valley who continue to fight for immigrant and farm worker rights.
“Mr. Orendain leaves a legacy of struggle on behalf of the farm workers in South Texas and California. His work on behalf of those who toiled in the fields under disgraceful conditions and for unspeakably low wages lives on in the memories of thousands. May he rest in peace and power,” reads a statement released by La Unión del Pueblo Entero.
When Orendain crossed the Mexican border into California in 1950, he was 20 years old, had a sixth-grade education and began laboring on farms. He soon met Cesar Chavez and worked with the Community Service Organization.
It was 1966 when Orendain came to Rio Grande City to help with a farm workers’ strike on La Casita Farms, according to an obituary submitted by his family.
A story published in The Monitor in 2008 painted a picture of the ‘66 melon strike. Farm workers wanted their 14-hour work days shortened to eight and the minimum wage increased from 40 cents to $1.25 as well as collective bargaining and an end to the green card program that allowed Mexican day laborers to commute to work every morning. In June, workers refused to pick melons. In October, Orendain led members of the local United Farm Workers Organizing Committee to the middle of the Roma bridge and straddled the international boundary while chanting, “We shall overcome” in Spanish. The strike failed, but Orendain continued his fight, moving his family to San Juan in 1969 and establishing a union presence in the Rio Grande Valley.
“The only thing that we are asking is that the farm worker be recognized, (that) he put the price on the sweat of his work, just as, for example, the gas stations put a price on gasoline or the bakeries put a price on their bread,” Orendain said in a 1974 radio interview with KMUL in Muleshoe, Texas.
Hector Guzman Lopez, coordinator for Fuerza del Valle Workers’ Center, a local immigrant-worker advocacy group, called Orendain a hero for taking up an “unwinnable fight in Texas.”
Meanwhile, Eduardo Martinez, 29, a local activist and Pharr native who cofounded Curando RGV, a local group dedicated to bringing awareness to social causes in the Valley, said Orendain did so much for the community that the community should do more for him. Streets and public places should be named after Orendain, Martinez said.
“Orendain was one of the giants of farm worker organizing, and so much of what he knew, so much of that history is now gone forever,” Martinez said. “His story, his legendary fights against oppression and for the rights of farm workers on both sides of the border, continues to be an inspiration for so many of us. A lot of what he did, and most importantly, how he went about it, has influenced me and many of my friends who are in the organizing scene here in the Valley or beyond.”
The Texas Farm Workers Union was established by Orendain in 1975 when it became apparent to him that Chavez was not going to work to help South Texas farmers. He also hosted a daily radio show and produced a Spanish newspaper called “El Cuhamil.” He led multiple strikes in an attempt to obtain fair wages for farm workers and led a group of farm workers on a march for basic human rights that started in San Juan and ended in Austin with a meeting with Gov. Dolph Briscoe in February 1977. The march was extended to Washington, D.C., in June, starting with 40 farm workers and ending with about 10,000 workers and supporters, states his obituary.
Manuel Torres, 60, of Weslaco, was living in a labor camp in the ’60s when he saw Orendain speaking with politicians running for office. State representatives at the time, Torres said, were disappointing because they did not represent the farm workers’ interests, but Orendain was a fighter. The group became organized and united, he said, and they were able to increase the price of buckets of onions from 25 cents to $1.
Torres’ brother, Jose, 63, also worked with Orendain and commented on the man’s intelligence and respect for the world. Jose Torres said Orendain taught him to be calmer and work with different people.
Orendain’s union dissolved, but in a 2008 interview, he said his efforts were not wasted. As a Mexican immigrant, he felt compelled to act, and in May 2009 he was recognized with a Texas Senate resolution.
“When we got here as a family in 1969, farmworkers had no worker’s compensation, no unemployment insurance and there was no pesticide regulation,” Orendain’s oldest son, Abel, a McAllen lawyer, told The Monitor in 2009. “In the early ’80s, farm workers got these rights. He didn’t do it directly, but he did more for the plight of farm workers down here than anyone else.”
Orendain is preceded in death by his wife Raquel, son Juan Antonio Orendain (Maura Reyes Orendain), and grandson Ganesh Shrestha. He is survived by his children Amada, Nina Melanie (Miguel Baeza), Abel (Lillian), Nancy (Mahesh Shrestha), and Joseph (Carmen), his long-time partner and companion Susan Law, as well as 20 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be held from 5-9 p.m. with a 7 p.m. rosary Friday, April 15, at Memorial Funeral Home in San Juan. Funeral Mass will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 16, at St. John the Baptist Catholic Parish in San Juan.
“What would happen if everyone in the world went to school, if everyone got his diploma in law or medicine?” Orendain asked in the 1974 radio interview. “I say to you, ‘Listen, do you want to work the land?’ You would reply to me, ‘No, I am a lawyer; I don’t work on the land.’ Supposing no one worked the land, the land isn’t going to produce by itself … What we are seeking is, just as they say, ‘I am a professional attorney’ or ‘I am a professional businessman or a professional banker,’ that it be, ‘My profession is working in the fields, and from there God gave me my living, not to live wealthy, but at least with the basic necessities that the rest of society is used to.’ That is what we are asking.”
Andrea Perez, Lorenzo Zazueta-Castro and Julie Silva contributed to this report.
Weslaco ISD does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, or disability in providing education services, activities, and programs, incl