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SWT Center for Migrant Education awarded $2.8 million contract

Date of release: 06/18/03

SAN MARCOS — The Center for Migrant Education at Southwest Texas State University has landed a five-year, $2,827,439 contract from the U.S. Department of Education to run the Migrant Education Coordination Support Center.

The Center for Migrant Education, a component of SWT’s College of Applied Arts, won the contract in a competitive bidding process, beating out several other universities and institutions. The contract will allow the Center for Migrant Education to assist the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Migrant Education, in the support and improvement of interstate and intrastate coordination of activities, programs and agencies concerned with the education, health and welfare of migrant children.

“ This is an opportunity for us to work with migrant education centers across the country,” said Jaime Chahin, Dean of the College of Applied Arts at SWT. “Our center is going from a state to national scope now. We’re excited about all of this.”

Under the contract, the Center will deal with a wide range of issues relating to migrant education, said Frank Contreras, Director of the Center for Migrant Education. While the Center is already active in many of these areas--including facilitating meetings on policy matters, developing materials and working to ensure quality education opportunities for “binational children” of migrant workers--those activities will now take on a national scope. The Center will work closely with education officials from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Mexico.

“ We’re going to be helping teachers improve their skills to better meet the needs of these children,” Contreras said. “The bottom line is improving student performance. That’s exciting when we can be directly involved in those kinds of factors.

“ It’s a difficult challenge. How can you provide a continuous education to a population that moves following the crops? As the family moves, they change school settings and their education is interrupted,” he said. “But they’re the ones that put the vegetables and fruits on our tables. They have a strong work ethic that transfers to working hard in school, also. These families believe strongly in education, but because of their economic situation, they need to work.”

In addition to coordinating and facilitating migrant education programs, the Center will also work to strengthen cooperation with the Binational Migrant Education Program, which includes teacher exchange initiatives with Mexico. This continues and expands the work already under way with various states in Mexico, as well as with Mexico’s Ministry of Public Education and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.