Top photo: From left are advertising and marketing
executive Lionel Sosa, facilitator Juan Sepulveda and
Mayor Julian Castro.
Bottom photo: UTSA President Ricardo Romo addresses
conversation participants.
(Photos by Mark McClendon)

UTSA hosts community discussion on Hispanic education issues

By Marianne McBride Lewis
Director of Public Affairs

(July 16, 2009)--On Monday, July 13, the UTSA Downtown Campus hosted more than 130 community leaders, education professionals and citizens for a daylong community conversation about ways to improve Hispanic education. The conversation was led by Juan Sepulveda, director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.

The event was one of a series of community conversations the initiative has planned for Texas, Puerto Rico and several other states with large Hispanic populations between July and the end of September.

Greeted by UTSA President Ricardo Romo and welcomed by San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, the exchange of ideas on how to improve Hispanic education in America centered on three questions:

  • What are we doing now that we should stop doing?
  • What are some of the good things that we should keep doing?
  • What should we begin to do now?

Harriett Romo, UTSA professor of sociology and co-host of the event as director of the UTSA Mexico Center, worked closely with the mayor's office to target a broad range of community groups to be certain attendees represented the educational experiences of Hispanic children from pre-kindergarten through college.

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans was created by executive order on Sept. 24, 1990, to improve federal efforts to promote quality education for Hispanic Americans. Sepulveda will visit Hispanic communities to gain input before the executive order is updated later this year.

"Education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity and success -- it is a prerequisite for success," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "We need to hear from and meet the needs of all students of all ages and eliminate the gaps in achievement between children of different backgrounds. My hope is that Juan Sepulveda helps us connect more closely to the Hispanic community and understand the challenges families face, so we are better able to provide clear paths to college and careers."

For additional community input, Sepulveda will visit Laredo, Brownsville, Austin, El Paso and Houston.

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