10A | LAREDO MORNING TIMES THURSDAY, JANUARY 17, 2008 EDUCATION | Continued from Page 1A “Everyone assumes all of our parents are affluent and have all the money in the world, but that’s not true,” Vida added. “What is true is the amount of ownership established by every single one of our parents. That, I think, is the one glaring difference between private schools and public schools. ” Mandatory parental involvement, where parents are required to volunteer at their children’s schools, is one idea Vida will present to her fellow members on the High School Completion and Success Initiative Council. The council held its first meeting in Austin on Dec. 7 and is scheduled to hold its second on Jan. 25. Vida will sit at the same table and review statewide data and studies with Robert Scott, Texas commissioner of education; Raymund Paredes, Texas commissioner of higher education; and Rod Paige, former U.S. Secretary of Education and superintendent of Houston Independent School District, who is now chairman of Chartwell Education Group. Others include Christopher Barbic, head of schools for YES College Preparatory Schools, a group of charter schools; Don McAdams, president of the Center for Reform of School Systems; Chris Patterson, research and policy consultant; Cindy RamosDavidson, chief executive officer of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and James Windham, president of the Texas Institute for Education Reform. In Perry’s Nov. 21 letter to Scott, who heads the Texas Education Agency, he states that he submitted Vida’s name, along with Paige’s and Barbic’s, because they “bring a wealth of experience in the field of education.” From her 37 years as an educator, Vida is convinced that parents are the key factor in preventing dropouts and making a student and school successful. “Parenting can be so extremely difficult, and parents looking for a way out look to the school,” Vida said. “So the schools have become the parents, and parents are walking away Scot free,” she said. “There has to be something obligatory to get parents involved in their children’s lives and schools.” She acknowledges that many parents have complicated lives, and some raise their children in a one- or two-parent household, sometimes working long hours or working more than one low-paying job. But Vida doesn’t accept any of these reasons as excuses for not getting involved. “I don’t buy that,” she said. “Education is a partnership, and you need parents and the education system closely involved and focused on the same goals. Otherwise, society is lost. “We have single parents, but we require that each parent has to do some kind of volunteer work,” Vida said of Laredo’s Catholic schools. “We let each parent know they are important to us.” Examples include cleaning the campus on weekends, raking leaves, planting trees and plants, doing floral arrangements, decorating the chapel, cleaning the cafeteria, helping with food prepa- ration, doing clerical work, and helping staff type or file documents, she said. Those with financial means aren’t allowed to write a check and walk away, either, Vida said. “Students have to see that their parents value what we’re trying to do,” she said. “That’s the perspective I’m bringing to the table.” While on the committee, Vida said she wants to figure out why high school graduates can’t write well, or compose simple letters. “Why is that happening? And why are so many of our kids having to go through remediation once they get to college?” she asked. “If we have kids passing the TAKS test, but then need remediation, then is there no correlation between passing the TAKS exam and being admitted into college?” she asked. “If agencies are having to retrain (high school) graduates they hire, then we’re doing something hugely wrong.” Vida, a 1966 Nixon High School graduate, began her career as a fourth-grade teacher at Ochoa Elementary and later spent 25 years as a professor and administrator at Laredo State University, now Texas A&M International University. She left her post as dean of TAMIU’s College of Education in 2003 to head the Laredo Catholic schools. Vida obtained a doctorate in education from the University of Texas at Austin and has three master’s degrees in related fields. The second of eight children born to Ana Maria and the late Eloy Ramirez, Vida said her parents were “great believers” in education. Her father was a vocational teacher who taught auto mechanics at Zapata High School and earned a GED through the military after serving in World War II. “He came back fully convinced that without education, a person couldn’t make it in life,” Vida said. Her mother, who just turned 92, received a degree in nursing primetime 7:00 EWTN/RE (2) WOAI (3) AZTECA1 (4) KABB (5) 7:30 CW (6) (19) AZTECA13(98) XEFE (99) January 17, 2008 8:30 9:00 9:30 10:00 Why We Care Way, the Truth Abundant Living Refurbishing TBA The Rosary Human Sexuality My Name Is Earl The Office (TV14) The Celebrity Apprentice “Mr. Outside (9:01) ER “Atonement” (HDTV) (N) News (N) (TV14) the Box” (TVPG) (TVPG) Ventaneando Bellezas Indomables Se Busca un Hombre (TV14) Mientras Haya Vida Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Don’t Forget the Lyrics! (N) (TVPG) News (N) The Simpsons (N) (TVPG) (TVPG) Without a Trace “One and Only” (HDTV) (TV14) Educational Access KENS/ED (8) Ugly Betty “Odor in the Court” (HDTV) KSAT (9) (N) (TV14) KGNS (10) (8) My Name Is Earl The Office The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer KLRN (11) (HDTV) (N) KLDO (12)(27) Amar sin Límites Tormenta en el Paraíso XHBR (14) Smallville “Wrath” (TVPG) KVTV 8:00 A Primera Vista Dr. Quinn (SS) Que Risa from Baylor University “at a time when most women weren’t educated,” and she was on the surgical staff at the old Mercy Hospital, Vida said. “We’re seven sisters and one brother, and we grew up strong because of our parents,” Vida said. “When we get together, there’s always a fight as to who will be in control,” she laughed. “My parents taught us that everything is attainable if you work at it, and if you really want it.” Vida and her husband, Frank, a local customs broker, have three grown children. 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