The Texas-Mexico border, which covers 1254 miles from El Paso to Brownsville, is sometimes referred to as “the border region” or the “borderlands.” Along the southern-most tip of Texas is an area known as the Rio Grande Valley, or “el valle.”
For decades, there has been a friendly relationship among the citizens in both sides of this border. After 1970, middle-upper class Mexicans increased their investment in Texas, viewed as a safe place to invest. Between 1970 and 2000, there was an explosive increase in the Latino population along the Texas border (U.S. Census, 2006). Although it was once thought that the National Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), passed in 1994, would add to the unemployment rate in the region, Fatemi (1990) argues that the Mexican “maquildoras” (manufacturing plants) have increased jobs along the U.S.-Mexico border while simultaneously creating jobs in Mexico. By 2005, Mexican companies owned $1.6 billion in property, plant, and equipment in the state. One result was the increase of middle and upper class, Mexico-origin students enrolled in public schools along the Texas-Mexico border.
As university educators who work in the Latino-majority schools along the Texas-Mexico border, we have noted interactions among (1) U.S.-born, Mexican American students; (2) poor or working class, Mexican immigrant students; and (3) the colorful, privileged, middle-upper class, Mexican immigrant students, the so-called “fresas.” “Fresas” (strawberries) is the term that local U.S. –born Mexican American adults and teenagers give to the middle-upper class, Mexican immigrants, usually outfitted in the latest designer brands. The term carries ridiculing connotations.
In this presentation, we will discuss the new student demographics, more complex than popular stereotypes, and the inter-generational, social, and economic conflicts among students as played out in Texas public schools.
|Keywords:||Secondary Education in the U.S., Schools in South Texas, New Demographic Realities of Public Schools in the U.S.|
Professor, Department of Curriculum & Instruction, The University of Texas Pan American, Edinburg, Texas, USA
Professor, Department Chair, Department of Curriculum & Instruction, The University of Texas Pan American, Edinburg, Texas, USA
Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum & Instruction, University of Texas Pan American, Edinburg, Texas, USA
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