Building the Educational Pipeline in Texas

How a changing society puts new demands on public education and what university educators are doing to ensure an educated workforce for the future of Texas.
Mon March 25, 2013 3:15 pm

When Hector Funes entered Texas A&M University as a freshman, he quickly came to the realization that he wasn’t as prepared academically as many of his fellow Aggies, and he points to his public education in Texas as the reason why.

As an infant, Funes, who is now 23, had moved with his parents from San Antonio to his father’s birthplace of Honduras, where he attended private school until the fifth grade. That’s when his life took a dramatic turn. Funes’ father was shot and nearly killed in an attempted robbery in their Honduran home. After that the Funes family moved back to San Antonio, but medical bills and the higher cost of living meant they had to move in with his maternal grandfather, which is where Hector and his three brothers entered the Texas public education system.

“They were inner city schools and I didn’t know it at the time, but looking back now and meeting people from other places, I realized I had to play catch-up,” he explains. “The school buildings were old and rundown; we only had a few computers―we had to share computers in computer class. It’s a high-crime area; people were dealing drugs and there were a lot of fights on campus.”

Because of where they lived, contends Funes, educators assumed all the students were low-to-moderate achievers. “Senior year, we had an assembly where they talked to us about college, but the only people they invited were from community colleges; they just assumed that was the best we could do.”

Funes had developed an early interest in science and math, “but in my opinion, the classes were too easy,” he notes. “There were no AP classes in chemistry, biology and a lot of other subjects. And there were few options for electives like the arts and music. The classes they did have, they just skimmed the subjects―it wasn’t in-depth. I like to learn because I’m curious about things, but if it’s not offered, I can’t learn it.” 

Like Funes, millions of students flowing through the educational pipeline have their own stories of struggle and triumph as they progress from

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