3rd Centavo: In Remembrance of Senator Carlos Truan

by Dr. Rudy Rodriguez

Editor’s Note:  There have been many memorial statements from friends and colleagues of the late Texas Senator Carlos Truan who passed away yesterday. I came upon this one which goes to the heart of bilingual education by a Professor on the subject. Please read…

After 34 years of service in the Texas Legislature and soon after his retirement from the Senate, I interviewed Sen. Carlos Truán for the Journal of the Texas Association for Bilingual Education (Spring 1998, Vol. 4).  I asked him what influenced you to commit so much energy and expend so much political capital in support of bilingual ed.  He said:

…I will never forget one incident at the Stephen F. Austin Elementary School in Kingsville. I remember in the playground I called out to my friend to throw me the ball – Aviéntame la pelota.  I will never forget the teacher’s scathing reprimand:  “You are speaking Spanish, go to the principal’s office”…  Everyday there was a long line of students, all Mexican Americans, in front of the principal’s office waiting to be punished for speaking Spanish.

Sen. Truán’s convictions, courage and vision for a school experience free of oppression and discrimination for all Mexican American/Latino children will long be remembered as the hallmark of his career and fundamental to the work that led to the enactment of the first bilingual education law in Texas, also known as S.B. 121. The law, authored by Sen. Truán in 1973, effectively and forever did away with the highly punitive English – only requirement in public education. Equally significant, it removed the stigma associated with the use of Spanish in the schools.

Further in the interview, I asked what advice he had for bilingual educators: “we need to be forever vigilant about protecting the gains we’ve made in education…don’t be afraid to take a stance when our values and beliefs are challenged (and always do) what is right for our children.”

Dr. Rudy Rodriguez is a Professor in the College of Education at the University of North Texas and serves as a Trustee on the Denton ISD Board of Trustees.

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