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Educational equity for historically underprivileged youth in Texas to be addressed during public forum at UT Austin

Latinos & Educational Equity, a public forum addressing the quality of the educational process provided for historically underprivileged youth in Texas — most of them African Americans and Latinos — will be held at The University of Texas at Austin on Jan. 26.

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AUSTIN, Texas—Latinos & Educational Equity, a public forum addressing the quality of the educational process provided for historically underprivileged youth in Texas — most of them African Americans and Latinos — will be held at The University of Texas at Austin on Jan. 26.

The forum, which is free and open to the public, will focus on the effectiveness of Texas’ Top 10 Percent Law and the current system of accountability for public school students, teachers and administrators in grades three through 12. Participants will include state officials, as well as educators and representatives of public interest organizations.

The daylong event begins at 8 a.m. in Bass Lecture Hall of the Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs, 2315 Red River, located between Manor Road and Dean Keeton Street. Speakers will include state Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos of Austin, state Rep. Irma Rangel of Kingsville and A.R. (Tony) Sanchez Jr. of Laredo, a member of the UT System Board of Regents.

“The forum will bring together nationally recognized scholars who have played a major role in public-policy debates on educational reform. Their presentations will be brief, permitting ample audience participation and deliberation about crucial issues affecting Texas youth,” said forum coordinator Angela Valenzuela of the Center for Mexican American Studies at UT Austin.

The Center for Mexican American Studies, the College of Liberal Arts and the Office of the Provost at UT Austin are sponsoring the event in conjunction with the University of California System, as well as the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, the Center for Education at Rice University, the Harvard Civil Rights Project at Harvard University, the International Reading Association and the Inter-University Program for Latino Research.

Jos¹ Limãn, director of the Center for Mexican American Studies at UT Austin, said high-stakes testing is a key part of the educational pipeline for historically underprivileged students because it is a requirement for graduation from high school as well as a major criterion for promotion and retention decisions. In addition, the representation of African American and Latino youth in our state’s flagship universities is on the decline, particularly when calculated in terms of their increasing representation in the population.

He said that to reverse this trend, an important first step is to convene diverse sets of stakeholders in a setting where they can freely discuss education policy. The point of departure for the discussion will be current empirical research: how it can address major concerns such as the effectiveness of Texas’s Top 10 Percent Law and the current system of accountability for public-school students, teachers and administrators in grades three through 12.

Other Invited speakers include Gary Orfield of Harvard University; Uri Treisman of the Dana Center, UT Austin; Linda McNeil of Rice University; UT Austin Vice Provost Gerald Torres; Eugene Garcia, dean of the College of Education, UC Berkeley; and Alex Saragoza, vice chancellor for Education Outreach, University of California System.

For additional information, contact Jordana Barton, Center for Mexican American Studies, at 512-471-2136 or via email at jordana.b@mail.utexas.edu