Wednesday, February 15, 2006

No-excuses education

I hope school districts all over the country look at what these educators are doing. And copy it! DP

By Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, Express-News Staff Writer HIDALGO — The odds are stacked against the children here.

The tiny border town sandwiched between McAllen and Reynosa, Mexico, is one of the poorest in the country.

About seven of 10 children begin school speaking no English.

Many walk to school from neighborhoods that hug the banks of the Rio Grande. Some live in shanty houses and camper trailers with no running water. They're the children of immigrants and migrant workers, the children education researchers say have little chance of succeeding.

But there's something special going on in Hidalgo. The tiny school district of 3,200 students is shattering stereotypes.

In Hidalgo, every 3-year-old has access to free, full-day pre-kindergarten with a certified teacher. Students leave elementary school fluent in two languages. Educators give parents the means to learn English, earn their GED and go to community college.

And the successes aren't just limited to a few feel-good stories.

While the achievement gap between Latino and Anglo students is growing nationally, the students of Hidalgo — where more than 99 percent are Hispanic and about 93 percent come from poor homes — are outpacing most districts in Texas. The state has ranked Hidalgo either recognized or exemplary for the past eight years.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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