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Latino superintendents lead school districts in Texas' eight largest cities

With a new school superintendent taking over this fall in Houston, every one of Texas’ eight largest cities now has a Latino running the school district. That’s a big deal in a state with a surging Hispanic population and a history of political underrepresentation. As part of a statewide collaborative series, Star-Telegram media partner KERA digs into the implications for students, schools and the politics of education.

In a school district where nearly 45 percent of students are Hispanic, Arlington superintendent Marcelo Cavazos’ bilingual skills come in handy. During a recent visit to a class of juniors at Carter High School, Cavazos asked the students in Spanish what they want to study and what career they want to have.

One student said he wants to be a doctor. Another said she’d like to be a teacher.

“Gracias,” he told her. “When can you start?”

The kids in the class laugh.

It’s not just the language that helps Cavazos connect with these students, it’s his roots. As a kid, he helped his parents pick crops in the fields of south Texas.

Experts says that kind of life experience among leaders is critical as the country’s population grows more diverse. More than half of the state’s 5.1 million public school students are Latino and more of these students than ever are in districts run by Latinos. Learn more at KERA.org.

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