A history of Rio Grande City, Texas high school 1960-1969



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The history of Rio Grande City High School in Rio Grande City, Texas during the 1960’s demonstrates how Mexican-American students achieved academic success. The population was composed of 98% Americans of Mexican descent with 2% Anglo-Americans. Rio Grande City’s per capita income during the 60s made Starr County the poorest in the nation. Despite these factors, the school graduated a high number of college aspirants. Hispanic success throughout this report was defined as students’ graduation from high school, acquiring advanced degrees, and achieving high-income professional jobs. This study asks the question: Why was this high school so successful in graduating motivated students who acquired advanced degrees and high income jobs? The researcher collected historical interviews that address the particular exemplary nature of students in this high school. Analysis of in-depth interviews also shed light on the dimensions of what people perceived to be students’ aspirations, goals and reality during the 1960s. A qualitative research process was used to investigate the experiences and perceptions of alumni, educators, administrators and parents. The first chapter describes the origin of Rio Grande City High School and its growth from a common school to what is now a 5-A high school. Subsequent chapters narrate the school settings chronologically and present data from the perspective of teachers, alumni, administrators and parents. It is through their perspective of what they were experiencing, socially, politically, educationally, that their educational aspirations unfold. The final chapter presents an analysis of the interviews and of this high school’s attempt to improve the quality of education through innovative practices in curriculum, teacher devised curricula, language laboratories, and the enrollment of students in advanced science, math and foreign language courses. As historical research, this work makes use of official documents, statistics, and oral history interviews with alumni, educators, administrators, and parents to create a multi-faceted account of the school’s history. Finally this dissertation focuses on four themes that appear to be significant in the study. (1)Parents, especially mothers, were instrumental in students seeking an education, and (2) Caring teachers motivated students through experiential learning, teacher devised curricula, new hands on methodology and technology, (3) Higher educational expectations espoused by both teachers, students, parents were evident (4) Two separate curricula, college prep, versus vocational are examined.