Laredo's public school districts, community college and state university have joined forces t o launch a new campaign aimed at helping t increase participation in life long education.
Organizers launched the new campaign, dubbed "Education: It's for Life. Education: It's for Laredo" with a press conference at the La Posada Hotel, once the home of the city's first public high school.
Participants included leadership from Laredo community College, Laredo Independent School District, Texas A&M International University and United Independent School District.
Campaign organizers said the effort is in response to sobering figures that indicate that too few Laredoans are taking advantage of lifelong education and its power to change and better lives.
"We've chosen to present our message on a site that at its time was once the finest and best hope that public education could offer as Laredo's first public high school. Now, our city and region have so much more available...from vocational preparation to doctoral degrees, but too few are taking advantage of what's available," said Dr. Ramon Dovalina, LCC president.
Dr. Ray Keck, new president at A&M International, concurred, noting sobering statistics.
"Webb Country public High School graduates for the Fall of 2000 numbered 2144. To date, of this number less than 54%, or 1,154 students, have gone on to higher education. At the State level, the 2000 US Census for 2000 indicates only 15% of Texans have earned a bachelor degree. Only 7% have earned a graduate degree. This does not bode well for a community that needs an educated and capable workforce," Dr. Keck said.
Organizers said that the availability of top-notch high school preparation and higher education can fuel brighter futures for all and for the community many will choose to call home. They want to encourage all Laredoans to consider educating themselves for life to have better lives for themselves and generations to come, they said.
LISD Superintendent Paul Cruz said LISD has marshaled its forces for education.
"LISD is committing all of its fiscal and human resource into developing educated students with a relevant and challenging curriculum. When our senior students graduate from Martin, Nixon or Cigarroa High School, they will be ready to enroll in post-secondary study or seek employment. LISD's 3,500 employees work hard everyday to ensure that each and every student receives the best education possible. And as our students begin their high school years, we want to encourage them to take Advanced Placement courses, sign up for concurrent enrollment classes at LCC or A&M International, take the SAT, ACT and TASP exams, and make them aware about all the financial aid opportunities that are available for Hispanic graduates that want to go to college," Dr. Cruz said.
"Education: It's for Life. Education: It's for Laredo" will be initiated with a series of public service TV messages produced by KGNS-TV, local NBC affiliate and made available to other local TV media. Organizers hope to expand on this with subsequent messages presented as a public service by radio stations and print media.
Two TV spots have been produced and feature State Representative Richard Raymond along with Drs. Dovalina and Keck and LISD superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz and UISD superintendent Dr. Jerry Barber.
Raymond said he was proud to be part of the effort and said education for life needs to be first and foremost on the minds of all Laredoans and South Texas.
"In an age of such rapid change, it is up to each person to make the decision to continue developing his or her mind...Then the possibilities can be endless. It is what we create for ourselves through education that will leave a lifelong mark and lead to a better, more prosperous future," Rep. Raymond said.
Organizers said all institutions participating in the campaign welcome public input and support to help spread the message about "Education: It's for Life. Education: It's for Laredo." They noted that state and federal assistance for students seeking to continue in higher education is at an all time high, providing additional incentives for participation.
"Each of us helps to lead the educational centers that provide these opportunities, and each of us is concerned that if Laredoans and Webb County residents do not utilize these opportunities in greater numbers, the city's future will not be as bright," said Dovalina.
Dr. Keck said that Laredo is especially poised to benefit from continuing to embrace education for life.
"Any community world be alarmed with these statistics, but Laredo is more so. We are the critical link to Mexico, Central and Latin America and have the potential to be the cultural and economic link to this Hemisphere. To realize that potential, we must embrace education for life," Keck said.
For additional information on "Education: It's for Life. Education: It's for Laredo," please contact communications offices at each of the participating partners: LCC - Becky Sepulveda, 721.5243; LISD - Marco Alvarado, 795.3295; A&M International - Steve Harmon, 326.2180 or UISD - Susan Carlson, 717.6244,