Marching for Educational Equality

Mothers Against Discriminatory Racism in Education and Society hopes to call attention to group's cause

Few things more insidious than discrimination exist in this world. And one of the most harmful places discrimination is capable of rearing its grotesque head is in the educational system. Mothers Against Discriminatory Racism in Education and in Society, a nonprofit organization whose members seek "to guarantee Hispanic and Native-American children their rights to an equal and quality education," wants to call attention to this and is bringing its concerns to the Lege. MADRES, which has chapters in Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Baytown, and Laredo, has organized a march and rally for Tuesday, March 6. Members and supporters will walk two miles from Our Lady of Guadalupe Church at 1206 E. Ninth to the state Capitol at 9am after a Mass. (If the thought of holy water makes your skin burn, don't sweat it. Just show up after the Mass.) Beginning at 1pm, MADRES has lined up a series of speakers from UT, as well as from other institutions of higher learning and nonprofits; they'll focus on shortcomings in the educational system for Latinos and Native American children, as well as the need for quality and equal education for these children, said Justo Garcia, MADRES's CEO and co-founder, who, to call attention to the group's cause, is trekking up I-35 to Austin all the way from Laredo with co-founder Sam Alvarado. They began hiking about 10 miles a day on Feb. 10 and plan to be in Austin by this weekend, said Garcia, who noted that MADRES hopes to draw from 100 to 500 people to its rally. "I have the biggest [foot] blisters I've ever had in my life," he added, on a more personal note.

According to State Demographer Steve Murdock, Latinos will make up a majority of Texas' population at some point between 2025 and 2035. As of 2005, 45% of all public-school students were Latino; by 2040, two thirds of the students in the school system will likely be Latino, Murdock said.

"In Texas, the only resource we have for our future is our children, and if we don't educate them, the streets will educate them," said Garcia, who noted that, among other things, Latinos have a higher school dropout rate than other ethnic groups in Texas.

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