Was at the Texas Tribune Festival last week (Sept 21-23), a 3 day event at the University of Texas at Austin where dozens of politicians and other government types get together to talk about Texas' present and future. I sat in on two panels, one with the Big 5, as I'll put it - Chancellors of the 5 biggest university systems in Texas (UT, Texas State, A&M, Baylor and U of Houston) were present and the 2nd panel were presidents and education professionals from South Texas colleges. The tone was dramatically different at each. The "Big 5" panel used a lot of terms like "equity" and "structures." I'm not even sure if they uttered the word, "students." The 2nd panel talked about students as humans and discussed their real needs. It's not hard to guess that the South Texas schools are making newcomers to the U.S. and Hispanics, in general, their priority and are seeking avenues to make entrance to school more accessible. The Big 5 shared some concerns about the low enrollment rates of Latinos at their schools...University of Houston excluded. Their chancellor (the only woman) shared some phenomenal statistics of 25 % Latino/Black enrollment at U of H, to Baylor's 6% (and he said that number with optimism, ugh). Though they were from the biggest and state-funded schools, the chancellors at UT, Baylor and A&M seemed like they hadn't seen a student in 20 years, no less helped one attain higher ed. At the South Texas school panel - South Texas College and UT Brownsville - the tone was solutions, action and ingenuity. South Texas College and Superintendent Daniel King of Pharr-San-Juan Alamo Independent School District each had already bought a mall to serve their growing numbers of admissions and high school students in the area. Each school shared programs on campus to get 1st generation students from Latin America and their parents to visit their schools. South Texas College's President Shirley Reed put it simply: " If we don't passionately commit to the work our largest population will be our least educated." Dr. Juliet Garcia of UT Brownsville talked about the discrepances between the Big 5 and colleges in the Valley....UT Austin has 21 libraries and UT Brownsville just confirmed the 2nd of 2 recently. It was clear the state has some answering to do regarding how it can better support colleges in South Texas doing what everyone SHOULD be doing. Dr. Garcia was the one I quoted for the title of this blog, "Our Democracy Demands and Educated Citizenry"...I left with that responsibility to fulfil in and outside of Latinitas.