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A Preliminary Evaluation of Mexican-sponsored Educational Programs in the United States: Strengths, Weaknesses, and Potential

Authors: Patricia Gándara
Date Published: December 31, 2004

This paper was initially submitted to the Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores in Mexico, December 2004, and also presented at the Second Binational Symposium in Mexico City at the UPN.
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The Mexican organization, Instituto para Mexicanos en el Exterior (IME), in conjunction with the Secretaria de Escuelas Publicas (SEP), the Instituto Nacional para Educación de Adultos (INEA), and Programa Binacional para Estudiantes Migrantes (PROBEM), endeavored to provide educational support to Mexican origin students outside of Mexico, as well as to those students returning to Mexico after having been educated for some period in the U.S.  At the time this report was written in 2004, this is a relatively new effort, beginning formally with a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the U.S. Department of Education and the SEP in 1990.  However, the diffusion of programs under these entities has been even more recent.  For example, while teacher exchanges date to the 1980’s between some Mexican and U.S. states,  PROBEM came into being in 1995 and began to extend and organize the Intercambios thereafter.  Today, 27 of 31 Mexican states and the federal district have PROBEM offices and participate in other binational activities.  


In September of 2004 the University of California at Davis, in conjunction with the California Policy Research Center at Berkeley, was asked by the IME to conduct an initial evaluation of the major programs sponsored by Mexican governmental agencies to assist the education of Mexicans in the exterior.  


This report outlines the findings of our initial investigation, which covered 3 months of investigation.  The report begins with a consideration of the context in which the 7 programs are being introduced—a context in which Mexican origin students are in urgent need of educational assistance, and in which the U.S. currently has inadequate human and educational resources to meet their needs.  This is followed by a discussion of our investigative methods, a description of the programs as they have been explained to us, and a discussion of our findings.  We then provide general observations about the initiatives, their strengths, weaknesses, and most importantly, their potential.  We end with a set of recommendations (1) for strengthening the programs through ongoing evaluation that will aid in their more effective dissemination, (2) for collaborative research, and finally (3) we propose several avenues of continued cooperation that we believe can greatly enhance the education of Mexican students in the United States.  



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