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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Border Walking Conference addresses students' needs

Improving teaching methods for bilingual students in border areas is the focus of New Mexico State University's third annual Border Walking Conference Sept. 30-Oct. 2.

About 350 public school teachers, administrators and parents are expected to attend the conference at the Las Cruces Hilton Hotel, said conference coordinator Anne Gallegos, an NMSU associate dean of education and professor of special education.

The conference was established as a way for experts in the fields of bilingual special education and multicultural education to present their research and discuss topics of concern to teachers and parents, Gallegos said.

The conference addresses the needs of a major segment of students in the region, Gallegos said. Hispanic students make up more than 60 percent of the Las Cruces Public Schools population and 70-95 percent of the children enrolled in the Gadsden and El Paso, Texas, school districts, she estimated.

New this year are sessions for parents. "We are expecting about 60 parents so far from all over New Mexico and have space for others who wish to attend," she said.

The New Mexico State Department of Education provided $15,000 worth of support for the parents' sessions and other conference expenses this year, Gallegos said. The first two years of the conference the education department provided $1,500 and $9,000, respectively.

Planned are several keynote speeches, other presentations, a panel and a luncheon honoring the recipient of the annual Social Justice Award. Student mariachi and baile folklorico groups and the band Nuevo Amor will provide entertainment.

Kicking off the conference will be a keynote address by Irene Oliver Lewis, director of Court Youth Center, at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 30. She will talk about the integration of language, culture and the arts into educational practice.

Scheduled are two talks by Alba Ortiz, a professor of special education at the University of Texas at Austin. She will give tips on helping second language learners benefit from classroom instruction and how educators can work more effectively with families and the community.

Antonia Darder, a professor at Claremont College in California, will speak on critical educational issues in the borderlands and the national controversy over bilingual education.

Ortiz and Darder also will talk with parents.

A panel, titled "Equity and Access," will include Ortiz; Darder; Leonard Baca, a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder; and Rudolfo Chavez Chavez, a professor of curriculum and instruction at NMSU.

New Mexico State Sen. Cynthia Nava will participate in a luncheon Oct. 1.

Spanish-English translation, deaf interpretation, a baby-sitting service and exhibits of educational materials will be available all three days of the conference.

Registration at the door begins at 7:30 a.m. Sept. 30 and costs $25 for students and parents, $35 for NMSU faculty and staff and $150 for others. For more information, contact Anne Gallegos at (505) 646-5973.