Tag Archives: latino agenda

Texas Senate Hispanic Caucus Releases Agenda

From the Inbox, thanks to State Senator Jose Rodriguez, Chairman of SHC:



Austin – Leaders of the Senate Hispanic Caucus (SHC) and the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus (MALC), along with grassroots, business, and subject matter leaders from Latino/a communities across Texas, announced the results of a year-long effort to identify policy priorities in five key areas.

“Members of the Latino/a communities across Texas expressed a consensus around the areas of education, health care, economic opportunity, immigration, and civic engagement,” said Senator José Rodríguez, Chairman of the SHC. “As our state’s former demographer, Dr. Steve Murdock, has warned us for years, if we continue to ignore the needs of the Latino and other minority communities in this state, we ignore the future of Texas at our own peril.”

Hundreds of people attended the six SHC regional Latino/a summits, which took place over the course of 2014 in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, and the Rio Grande Valley.

“It was statewide, and it was non-partisan,” said Senator Garcia, Vice Chair of the SHC. “We have heard our community, and we are taking our marching orders seriously. We are prepared to work hard on both defense and offense. I can promise you we will keep fighting to ensure our voices are heard regardless of what is to come.”

State Rep. Mary Gonzalez, on behalf of MALC, said: “Texas is at a crossroads. We can embrace our opportunity to keep Texas great into the future… This is called a Latino/a agenda, but this is really a Texas agenda.”

“The Latino/a population in the state of Texas is greater than the population of every state in our union with the exception of six. In Texas, there is no such thing as an issue that is not a Latino/a issue. For the first time, you see a unity among Latino/a organizations and elected leaders,” said Joe Cardenas of HOPE, Hispanics Organized for Political Education.

Highlights of the report, which can be found on the Senate Hispanic Caucus’ website include:

  • In the education arena, the Latino/a community overwhelmingly supported fixes to the school finance system, bilingual education programs, greater access to higher education, and ending the use of high stakes standardized testing. “The taskforce talked to 70 organizations involved in education at the federal, state and local levels, as well as to individuals in business and administration, classroom teachers and parents, and grassroots leaders. Once we went through the problems they shared with us, we came up with overarching themes. School finance was number one for everybody,” said Dr. Patricia Lopez, education taskforce co-chair. She added, “The SHC agenda gets at the heart of the problem in public education and higher education.”
  • In the area of health care, the biggest priority was improving access to care.  As Anne Dunkelberg, Associate Director at the Center for Public Policy Priorities and taskforce chair stated, “…there was really an insistence across the board that the first issue of concern was closing the coverage gap in Texas, which essentially leaves over one million uninsured U.S. citizen adults without an option for affordable coverage because they’re excluded from the A.C.A.’s marketplace and excluded by our legislature’s choices from Texas Medicaid. That’s affecting our economy by denying us an estimated $6 to $8 billion a year in additional federal health care revenue and anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 jobs that Dr. Ray Perryman and Billy Hamilton have estimated would be created if we moved forward with closing that coverage gap.”  There was also strong support for programs and incentives to increase the number of health care providers in border and rural areas. The recommendations included the utilization of promotoras, advanced practice nurses, and physician assistants.
  • On the immigration front, there was passionate support for keeping in-state tuition for Texas Dreamers and opposition to Arizona-style local enforcement of immigration laws. There was also strong support for greater access to driver’s licenses, or permits to a lesser extent, to create safer roads for all. “We’ve worked with educators, administrators, business, and faith-based groups who say we need to capitalize on the investment we’ve made in the people who are and will continue to contribute to our state,” said MALDEF Attorney Celina Moreno, taskforce co-chair.
  • In terms of creating more economic opportunities for working Latino/a families, participants supported reforming predatory lending practices, raising wages, and incentives for college and saving programs.  As Rene Lara with AFL-CIO and taskforce co-chair said, “Texans need a pay raise, and Latino/a workers in Texas need a pay raise. It’s that simple.” Ann Baddour, Senior Policy Analyst at Texas Appleseed and taskforce co-chair, added, “When all of our communities thrive, we all thrive.” In discussing income disparity, Baddour emphasized that “businesses need mentorship and access to capital.”
  • Perhaps most importantly, discussions about civic engagement in the Latino/a community focused on more opportunities for voter registration and less obstacles to voting, including online voter registration, reducing restrictions on deputy volunteer registrars, expanding the acceptable forms of photo identification at the polls, and incorporating civic engagement and registration processes at high schools across the state. Lydia Camarillo, Vice President of Southwest Voter Registration Education Project and taskforce chair, underscored, “Voting is not only an American value, it is a right we must fight for.”

Additional background information:

During the October 2013 Latino Summit in Austin, the Senate Hispanic Caucus (SHC) and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC) assembled five taskforces in the areas of education, health care, civic engagement, immigration, and economic opportunities. During the latter half of 2014, the SHC hosted six regional summits in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, and the Rio Grande Valley. At these regional summits, educators, community activists, students, civic leaders, and service providers were given an opportunity to provide feedback on the recommendations made by the SHC taskforces. The discussions were meaningful and added significantly to the development of a Latino/a policy agenda informed by the community.

HOPE Announces Lege Agenda

Hispanics Organized for Political Education (HOPE), the former “political arm” of Texas LULAC has re-organized and announced its legislative agenda for the 2013 Texas legislative session. It is quite comprehensive and divided into four parts.

Plan of Action
Latinos in Texas rank the following 7 issues in order of importance as the most relevant to our community’s agenda:
1. Education
2. Immigration/Racial Profiling
3. Political Access/Redistricting
4. Health Care
5. Business/Workforce
6. State Budgetary shortfall
7. Housing

Catching my eye because of its importance is their plank on education.

HOPE calls on the Texas 83rd Legislature to reinstatement school-funding using district property wealth for allocation to the 2009, level of funding that also took into account the annual increased enrollment of students.

Quality Education for English Language Learners (ELLs)
Reform and improve education by supporting reforms for effective secondary educational programs that serve English Language Learners including stronger accountability standards, curricular reforms at the secondary level, and addressing qualified teacher shortages through recruitment and retention programs. These reforms will result in closing the achievement gaps and reducing the drop-outs.


1. Reform and improve education by identifying a menu of best practices that are research based to address dropouts;
2. Introduce legislation that will require institutions to include in their graduation degree plan developed courses that focus on addressing potential dropout students and dropouts as part of their teacher certification programs;
3. Support legislation that will require institutions that grant teacher certification and who are also identified as an HSI (Hispanic Serving Institution) to develop leadership programs for minorities in the field of education;
4. Support legislation that will create a statewide Blue Ribbon Committee made up of those institutions of higher learning that are identified as HIS to create  a Thinktank to be centered at Texas State University in San Marcos to research, monitor, and propose solutions to student dropouts;
5. Close all loopholes in the state’s leaver code system so that districts and campuses cannot arbitrarily mask student dropout numbers;
6. Monitor the extent to which students are being taken off of the recommended high school program and placed in the Minimum track that leaves them ineligible for state financial aid (i.e., TEXAS Grant) and automatic admissions under the Top Ten Percent Policy.

Equitable School Finance System

Invest in the economic future of Texas by supporting a return to formula-based funding that maintains a school finance system that allows schools to access equal revenue at a similar tax effort and properly funds special needs students.

Universal Access to Schools

Oppose all efforts to deny access to education and ensure access to parents and children living in Texas to educational services regardless of immigration status.

High-stakes Testing

Put a stop to the over-reliance on a single test-based indicator when assessing students. Continuing to focus on student test performance does not lead to a deeper or critical understanding of the curriculum. Rather, it obstructs students’ access to quality learning time and diverts precious dollars and resources (such as teacher and staff time) to testing companies. The misuses of testing are both unethical and unsupported by research, and also disproportionately impact poor, minority, and English learning students, as well as those student receiving special education services.

Holistic Assessment

Support the use of multiple measures such as classroom work, homework, extracurricular involvement, teacher evaluation, parent evaluation, and test scores as a means for holistically assessing a student’s overall academic performance. Oppose policies that solely rely of a single test score to determine grade promotion or retention decisions, deny students a high school diploma, deny access to college or financial aid, or contaminate students’ course GPAs.

College Readiness Preparation

1. Support students’ access and successful completion of the 4×4, college readiness curriculum;
2. Oppose efforts to track students into nonrigorous, vocational or career and technology courses;
3. Support rigorous career and technology education courses that are taught by certified teachers, that supplement (rather than supplant) students’  completion of college ready curricula, and lead to workbased certification and college credit.4. Support supplemental programs and partnerships that provide students resources and access to institutions of higher education;

5. Require that all students have fully certified, quality teachers who have theacademic and social competencies to ensure that all students reach their optimal potential.

Affordable Tuition Rates in Higher Education

1. Oppose any measure that restricts or prohibits minority access to needed financial aid and Texas grants that should be fully restored;
2. Support affordable access to higher education by restoring the state regulation of tuition;
3. Oppose any measure that further restricts Texas’ high school graduates access to instate tuition.

Top 10%

Oppose any legislation that would reduce, eliminate or make exceptions to the top 10% rule.


Oppose any legislation that would challenge students’ access to higher education by modifying or eliminating House Bill 1403.


Support enhanced anti-bullying legislation that will mandate that the education administration code include a directive to identify a point of contact for bullying.

Special Education

Support legislation mandating that the parents of special education students who are also limited English proficiency (LEP), be provided all documentation in their native language during the ARD and the development of the student’s IEP.

State Board of Education Reform

Reform the State Board of Education (SBOE) to ensure that the adopted and future TEKS curriculum standards are accurate, comprehensive, in compliance with legislative intent and responsive to community input. Support efforts to include top university experts in the decision making process.

Click on the link to read the entire document; however, be warned–it is pretty progressive and will earn some right-wing opposition. With the Dewhurst-Patrick-Republican ideas of expanding charter schools and school privatization, the battle lines have definitely been drawn between Latinos and Republicans.

Thanks to my good friend, Joe Cardenas, III, for sending this to me and for chairing such an important group of leaders.