History of MASBA

The Mexican American School Board Members Association was founded in 1970 by José A. Cárdenas, superintendent of the Edgewood Independent School District in San Antonio. Although Mexican Americans were a substantial part of the population, they were poorly represented on most public school boards in the state. In the early 1970s, for instance, only around 400, or 4 per cent, of 10,000 school board members in 1,400 school districts were Mexican Americans. MASBMA incorporated on December 6, 1973, with the financial support of the National Education Task Force de la Raza and Clemente Saenz, agent for the American Lutheran Church, to promote educational opportunities for all public school children.

Headquarters were at St. Edward's University in Austin. A fourteen-member board of directors, headed by Ruben Hinojosa of the Mercedes ISD, the organization's president, oversaw its operations. Chris Escamilla, an Edgewood ISD board member, became its executive director. Membership was open to board members whose school districts had a sizable percentage of minority students.

On February 8-9, 1975, MASBMA and other Mexican-American organizations sponsored a conference on the education of Hispanics. MASBMA organized similar efforts to implement its goals. It acted as a consultant to the priorities committee of the state board of education and sought to implement the United States Civil Rights Commission's report Toward Quality Education for Mexican Americans. In addition, with the Intercultural Development Research Association of San Antonio, it developed and ran a program to train Mexican-American school-board members in effective leadership through 1987.

Funds to support its activities came from the Intercultural Development Research Association, affiliated with the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the National Education Task Force de la Raza, and other groups. Numerous MASBMA members were prominent Mexican Americans in the state. They included Gustavo García, later a member of the Austin City Council, Alicia Chacón, who served as an official with the federal Social Security Administration, Frank Madla, a member of the Texas legislature, and José Ángel Gutiérrez, a founder of the Raza Unida party.