December 27, 2006

Hispanic Ministers in Texas Gather in Support of School Choice

Texas faith leaders demand more options for Latino parents

McAllen, TX –Christian leaders and presidents of pastors associations, representing more than 200 Hispanic Christian Churches and an estimated 20,000 members in the Valley of Texas gathered in McAllen to address the demand for solutions to the crisis that exists in Latino educational outcomes in the state.

This historic meeting, the first of its kind in the Valley, brought together leaders representing a wide range of Christian denominations to highlight the importance of activating their voice obtaining tools and information that support their efforts to increase educational options for families in Texas. The event was hosted by the National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC), the largest Latino Christian advocacy organization in the nation, representing 15,000 churches in 32 states. Also present were leaders from the Hispanic Council for Reform & Educational Options (Hispanic CREO).

“The future of our civic and faith communities relies on the adequate education of our children, and as leaders of the Latino church, we have the authority and moral obligation to demand educational options that will provide families with access to better schools,” said Reverend Miguel Rivera, President of CONLAMIC.

“The Rio Grande Valley is the fastest growing region in Texas. The Valley is 87 percent Hispanic with almost 40 percent of the population under the age of 19 years. About 60 percent of the Valley is under the age of 35,” said Josefina Rios, CONLAMIC Texas State Coordinator. “Forty-eight percent of Valley residents do not even have a high school education and 87 percent never obtain a college education," she said. "Our high school dropout rate in the Valley is very high at almost 50 percent, while less than 30 percent of Anglo students leave school. There is a big gap between our ethnic groups," said Mrs. Rios.

The most vocal participants were the Presidents of the pastors associations of McAllen, Harlingen, the Rio Grande, and Mid Valley. Also in attendance were Teachers, media representatives and public officials.

“Latino Christian leaders in the Valley overwhelmingly support school choice. They are extremely interested in efforts to increase parental choice in education in Texas in 2007 and they want to ensure that the Valley is not overlooked,” said Maite Arce, Vice President of Hispanic CREO.

“We call upon our Texas legislative leadership, Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, and Speaker Tom Craddick, to commit to the passage of legislation in 2007 of a pilot school choice program,” said Rev. Rivera.

Christian ministers committed to actively support the efforts to pass this important legislation that provides Texas Latino children the opportunity for a better education and a real opportunity to participate in the American Dream.

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