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Senator Judith Zaffirini: District 21
Press Release
October 29, 2007
Contact: Nick Almanza
(512) 463-0121
Senator Zaffirini Invites Local Educators, Public to Educational Excellence Conference in Laredo

(LAREDO) -- Senator Judith Zaffirini today (Monday) invited local leaders, educators and the public to join the Council for Educational Excellence at Texas A&M International University's (TAMIU) Student Center ballroom on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 9:30 a.m.

As Council Honorary Chair and Presiding Officer, she will lead a conference that features keynote speakers Dr. Raymund A. Paredes, Commissioner of Higher Education, and Robert Scott, Commissioner of Public Education.

Registration and a reception will begin at 9:30 a.m., with the program starting at 10:30 a.m. Participation is free, and the public is invited.

"Our goal," Senator Zaffirini explained, "is to initiate the formation of the P-16 Councils in South Texas and the South Texas Council for Educational Excellence."

Statewide, P-16 activities and the P-16 Councils are coordinated by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). "P-16" refers to an integrated system of education spanning from preschool ("P") to a four-year college degree ("16").

TEA's web site indicates the system "is dedicated to improving student achievement by getting children off to a good start, raising academic standards, conducting appropriate assessments, improving teacher quality and generally smoothing student transitions from one level of learning to the next. It also focuses on helping all children meet the proficiency levels needed to succeed at the next education level and in the workforce."

"We invite everyone who cares about education, ranging from early childhood to higher education to attend this important conference," said Senator Zaffirini, who also chairs the Senate Higher Education Subcommittee and is Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. "It is an opportunity to hear Commissioner Paredes and Commissioner Scott articulate their vision of collaboration among educators at all levels. Community college and school trustees, presidents, superintendents and residents interested in education especially are encouraged to attend."

Dr. Ray Keck, Council member and TAMIU president, said the meeting affords all South Texans a rare opportunity to join in a much-needed discussion.

"I would say that we are at one of the most critical junctures in public education history in Texas. Much has been done. Much needs to be done. All communities need to join with Councils to advance an education that is laser-focused on the best possible futures for all the children of Texas," he said.

In addition to TAMIU, local Host Council members include AVANCE, the City of Laredo, Laredo Chamber of Commerce, Laredo Community College, Laredo Development Foundation, Laredo Hotel and Lodging Association, Laredo Independent School District, Logistics and Manufacturing Association - Port Laredo and Hank and Elizabeth Sames.

Also, South Texas Tech Prep, South Texas Workforce Development Board, Texas Migrant Council, The Laredo Morning Times, Guillermo and Tammy TreviƱo, United Independent School District and The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Laredo Campus Extension.

Educators at all levels, including trustees, and elected officials from throughout South Texas are invited.

"Our success depends on collaboration," Senator Zaffirini said. "I strongly encourage educational leaders at all levels to prioritize participating in this important conference. We cannot afford to fail."

According to the TEA website, the P-16 collaborative began in Texas in 1998 as an informal network called the Public Education/Higher Education Coordinating Group.

That group was formed by the Commissioners of the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), along with the executive director of the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC). Representatives from the Legislature, the Governor's office, university systems and other state agencies, as well as education associations and business coalitions were invited to the meetings.

In 2003 the Texas Legislature formalized the system by passing Senate Bill 286, which created the P-16 Council.

For additional event information, contact Dr. Warren von Eschenbach, Director of the Senate Higher Education Subcommittee, 512/463-4788; Senator Zaffirini's Capitol office, 512/463-0121, or District office, 956/722-2293; or TAMIU's Office for Institutional Advancement, 956/326-2175.

For more information about the Council for Educational Excellence, contact any Council member.

Information about the P-16 Councils in South Texas can be accessed via the TEA website, located at