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Hispanic superintendents in Texas lags student population

March 29, 2018

HOUSTON (AP) — Hispanic superintendents are underrepresented in Texas public schools despite Hispanic students representing the majority of students in the state.

More than 52 percent of Texas students are Hispanic, compared with about 25 percent nationally, the Houston Chronicle reported .

Hispanic student numbers have continued to climb in the state, with enrollment increasing by almost 40 percent from 2006 to 2016, according to the Texas Education Agency.

Martha Salazar-Zamora is the sole Hispanic superintendent among 55 school district leaders in the Greater Houston area, where 51 percent of students are Hispanic. The region lags far behind other Texas metropolitan areas when it comes to hiring Latino leaders, according to an analysis of state superintendent data.

Hispanic superintendents lead five districts in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, five in the Greater Austin region, 12 in the San Antonio area and six around El Paso.

“I wish I was not the only representative” in Greater Houston, Salazar-Zamora said. “But that’s how it starts, one at a time. I know I have qualified colleagues who can do the job, but they have to be given the opportunity to interview, and they have to be the best fit for the job.”

Salazar-Zamora’s presence in the community helps break down cultural and language barriers with Spanish-speaking parents, often encouraging them to become more involved at school, said Stan Paz, executive director of the Texas Association of Latino Administrators.

Texas has higher rates of Hispanic school leadership compared to the rest of the U.S. About 8 percent of superintendents in the state are Hispanic, compared to only about 3 percent nationwide.

School boards are responsible for hiring superintendents, but oftentimes they don’t reflect their communities. About 80 percent of students in the Pasadena school district are Hispanic and nearly 37 percent are English-learners, but only two of nine trustees are Hispanic.

“Unless you have a board with Latino board members, it’s less likely they will be interested in hiring a Latino superintendent,” Paz said.

Salazar-Zamora wants Hispanic students to know they can become the superintendent of a school district one day. She said she wants “them to see role models they can emulate who look like them.”

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Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com

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