by Aurelio Montemayor & Michael Seifert - August 2016
A year ago, the Rio Grande Equal Voice Network, with tremendous support from IDRA, convened a
conference that we called, “Una Mesa Comunitaria.” Community leaders, school superintendents,
college and university leaders and others gathered to consider possible, collaborative actions in
response to drastic changes in Texas’ education policies.
After the Texas legislature passed an education reform bill, members of the Rio Grande Valley (RGV)
Equal Voice Network’s Education Working group became concerned that entire cohorts of students
were being “tracked” (excluded from the possibility of university) unbeknownst to their parents.
The working group organized a survey as a way of alerting families to the dangers in the bill. In the
spring of 2015, our network of eight community-based organizations and the Comunitario groups
conducted a survey to find out if what they suspected was happening with the new graduation
requirements was indeed true.
Participants polled more than 1,600 families across three counties and over 10 school districts. The
results were clear, and alarming. Very few of the parents who were questioned knew about the new
requirements, and most did not know if their children who were in secondary schools were on a
college track. Some families reported having a difficult time getting information from schools, and
others found out their children were not considered “college material” – those students were not
enrolled in such college-required courses as Algebra II.
IDRA helped the Education Working Group tally the data and publish the results. The group decided
to follow up on a previous Mesa Comunitaria held in McAllen in 2013 by offering a second Mesa
Comunitaria, this time in Weslaco in August of 2015.
See complete bilingual article link below