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Presidential Advisory Commission Meeting Minutes

Las Vegas, Nevada
April 17-18, 2002

Full Commission Meeting
The Venetian Hotel
Las Vegas, NV

The President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans (henceforth "the Commission") met, in its entirety, at the Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada. A quorum was present throughout the meeting. Commission Co-chair Frank Hanna called the meeting to order at 8 A.M.

Commissioners Present
Frank Hanna, Co-Chair
Patricia Mazzuca, Co-Chair
Micaela Alvarez
Jose Canchola
Jaime Escalante
Anna Maria Farias
Charles Garcia
Norma Garza
Alexander Gonzalez

Miguel Hernandez
Rev. Jose Hoyos
Francisco Paret
Grace Ramos
Enedelia Schofield
Ofelia Vanden Bosch
Rene Vazquez
Octavio Visiedo

WHI Staff Present
Leslie Sanchez, Executive Director
Adam Chavarria, Associate Director
Desiree Avila
Erica Romero
Erin Ross
Edward Tobias


Agenda Item 1 - Welcome and Opening Statement

Commission Co-chair Frank Hanna opened the meeting and recognized State Farm Insurance Companies for its sponsorship of the Commission's work. He thanked the following individuals for their presence: Verice Campbell and William Renos from America's Promise; Commissioner Norma Garza; and Mary Jane Pearson, Secretary's Regional Representative for the U.S. Department of Education. Adam Chavarria briefly summarized the meeting schedule.

Agenda Item 2 - Expert Testimony: Closing Achievement Gap
Dr. Steven Murdock, Professor Department of Sociology, Texas A&M
Terri Flack, Deputy Commissioner of Texas Higher Education Coordinating
Board's Higher Education Public Awareness and Motivational Campaign

The aforementioned experts gave their testimony to the full Commission and answered Commissioners' questions. Dr. Murdock gave a statistical analysis of the Hispanic and Anglo populations and made recommendations on what changes should be undertaken to meet these changes. The Hispanic population, both proportionally and in real numbers, is growing. Ms. Flack spoke about the work her organization is doing to motivate students in Texas to go to college.

Agenda Item 3 - Expert Testimony: Hispanic Parental Involvement
Dr. Costanza Eggers Piérola, Project Director for the Center for Children and Families Educational Development Center, Inc., Newton, Massachusetts
David Valladolid, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Parents Institute for Quality Education (PIQUE), San Diego, California

The aforementioned experts gave their testimony to the full Commission and answered Commissioners' questions. Both Dr. Costanza and Mr. Valladolid provided insight on how one involves Hispanic parents in the education of their children. The Commission held a recess from 11:45 A.M. to 1:00 P.M., then reconvened for the afternoon session.

Agenda Item 4 - Briefing by Family Working Group

Frank Hanna called the meeting to order at 1:00 P.M. Enedelia Schofield began the briefing by iterating the central thesis her working group produced: that education must empower the family, not only the student. Jose Hoyos proposed that families be reached through "untraditional" channels of communication. He identified the strong religious component of the Hispanic community and suggested church bulletins and newspapers be used to communicate with parents. Ms. Schofield added that the Hispanic community should be reached directly; one should go into communities and talk to parents directly, she said. Micaela Alvarez said that although culture has historically been viewed as a hindrance to education, it should be viewed as an asset.

A general discussion about the role of the family vis-à-vis state and federal governments ensued. The Commission then discussed the definition of success, with some members pointing out that to tell someone s/he must attend college or s/he is a failure is the wrong message to send. Charles Garcia pointed out that the earnings discrepancy between college graduates and non-college-graduates should be underscored in public awareness campaigns. Octavio Visideo said people make decisions about their futures early, and that from early on Hispanic students should be told that college is an option.

Agenda Item 5 - Briefing by Educator Working Group

The full Commission was briefed on teacher quality and which recommendations the Commission could make to improve it. Signing bonuses and interventions to help teachers develop professionally were briefly addressed. The discussion then turned to the shortage of qualified teachers in math and the physical sciences. Members of the Commission recommended that their final report request more research into teacher preparation and development. Charles Garcia mentioned the teacher shortage and the specific lack of Hispanic teachers. Miguel Hernandez, Jr. said students need to be prepared for, and not promoted un-meritoriously to, the next grade. He added that teachers need a supportive infrastructure to aid them. Enedelia Schofield addressed teacher pay.

A recess is taken from 3-3:15 P.M.

Agenda Item 6 - Briefing by Community Partnerships Working Group

The Commission reconvened at 3:15 P.M. Francisco Paret summarized the progress the group had made. Community partnerships are "indispensable to" and inseparable from student achievement, he said. All community organizations - not only for-profit corporations and small businesses - must participate in the development of the community's children. Mr. Paret identified the three key components required to ensure community organizations participate most fully to the benefit of students: accountability, sustainability, and scalability. He added that these partnerships needn't target Hispanics exclusively. Grace Ramos said that corporations should be bound to schools in a creative way; they should do more than offer scholarships. Jose Canchola, responding directly, said that internships during college and mentoring programs are one way to do this.

The meeting adjourned at 4:50 P.M.

Agenda Item 9 - Briefing by Government Resources and Accountability Working Group

Octavio Visiedo suggested the subcommittees regroup to determine the amount of money allotted and filtered down to specific organizations pursuant to President Bush's Executive Order and to identify problems in relaying that money to the Hispanic population. He also suggested that the Commission analyze current budget data on Hispanic education and submit additional questionnaires to obtain more detailed information on where money for Hispanic education is going.

Grace Ramos expressed: 1) general concern over the per-capita parity of funding for Hispanic students compared to the rest of the population and 2) specific concern over the Head Start Program. Rene Vasquez asked how local and state agencies would be notified of the increase in federal funding and how they would access that funding.

Ms. Ramos suggested a questionnaire to ensure that funding reaches its intended destination. Francisco Paret concurred and suggested an office to monitor the allocation of funds continuously. Ofelia Vanden Bosch suggested an office of Hispanic education.

The group broke for lunch from 11:48 A.M. to 12:49 P.M. and decided to extend the meeting until 1 P.M.

Agenda Item 10 - Deliberation on presentations, findings and next steps

Charles Garcia said that participation in federal educational programs is increased by advertising in appropriate markets.

Jose Canchola calls for a vote on the creation of a Public Awareness Working Group, whose membership will be determined at a later date. Frank Hanna asks for a roll call. The motion passed with three dissenting members.

The meeting adjourned at 12:59 P.M.

As amended August 6, 2002

White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans
The White House White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans