The research that the three co-authors of this chapter carried out as part of their year-long responsibilities as graduate assistants in the Effective Border School Research and Development Initiative (EBSRDI) in large part confirmed the crucial importance of parental participation in the educational achievement of students, especially students with special educational needs. This study, which was conducted in cooperation with the Texas Education Agency, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Texas-Pan Am, and several school districts along the Texas-Mexico border, examined eight elementary, middle, and high schools, each judged to be successful, in the lower Rio Grande Valley of deep south Texas. The eight schools in this study were located in the area served by the Region One Service Center of the state of Texas and stretched from Laredo, Texas in the west to Brownsville, Texas in the east. This area is known as the lower Rio Grande Valley or “the Valley.” (See Figure 3.1 for a map of the region.)


Although the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas is obviously located within the geographical confines of the United States, we would like to explain why this area can be considered an international region and, thus, justify the existence of this chapter within this book. It is not uncommon to hear from both Mexican and American visitors to the border that the border is

not quite Mexico and not quite the United States, but a region unto itself-a hybrid, the result of both Mexico and the United States coming together in space and time. This ambiguity may be why the border is so confusing and disorienting to the newcomer and so fascinating to the social scientist.