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Albar Peña Papers

April 11, 2011

UTSA Special Collections recently received a collection of historical materials from the family of Albar Peña, the first director of UTSA’s Division of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies. The Albar Peña papers document Peña’s long and distinguished career in bilingual education, and his papers include correspondence, speeches, and research files related to his participation with various bilingual education programs both nationally and in Texas.

Portrait of Dr. Albar Peña, 1973.

Raised in Falfurrias, Texas, Peña joined the United States Air Force and then attended the University of Texas at Austin on the G.I. Bill. While working on his dissertation at UT Austin, Peña was also the Director of the National Defense Education Act Summer Institute for Teachers of Spanish-Speaking Disadvantaged Children Language Laboratory, a lecturer in ESL and Spanish at UT Austin, and a Spanish consultant to UT Austin’s Language Research Program in the San Antonio Independent School District. Following the passage of the Federal Bilingual Education Act, Peña was named the first director of the Department of Education’s Bilingual Education Program, a post he would hold until 1973, when left to become director of UTSA’s Bicultural-Bilingual Studies Division.

Agenda of the 1st meeting of the Advisory Committee on the Education of Bilingual Children, 1968.

Peña continued as a professor in the Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies at UTSA until his death in 1993. During his professional career in the field of bilingual education, he held many prestigious positions. He was the first president of the National Association for Bilingual Education, twice served as the president of the Texas Association for Bilingual Education, he was selected as U.S. representative at the International Colloquium in Bilingualism and Biculturalism, Paris, France, and he was also selected as chairman of the National Advisory Panel to the National Clearinghouse on Bilingual Education.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 21, 2013 3:35 am

    My name is Miguel A. Salinas, Bilingual Education Project SER Director (Spanish. English, Russian) Woodburn School District in Woodburn, Oregon 1972-1978.
    Looking back, I appreciate and celebrate my involvement in Bilingual Education in Oregon and at the national level. Dr. Albar Peňa was our first National Director and during his tenure he provided a steady hand during the introductory phase of Bilingual Education across the United States.
    I was in the National Advisory Committee for Bilingual Education under the US Office of Bilingual Education which was directed by Dr. Peňa. Other members of the Committee were: Ned Seelye, Carmen Perez, Ralph Robinett, Maria Medina Swanson, and other key people whose name I can’t recall. Presently, I am writing various opinions on Bilingual Education-Past and Present and I am also writing my own professional memoirs and thus my interest in submitting this short note.
    Historians are aware the importance of documenting and cross referencing one’s accounts of themes, events, dates and other vital points which makes one’s claims credible. Unfortunately I left ALL my pertinent materials in the Woodburn School District and at the moment I am seeking information related to the National Advisory Committee on Bilingual Education from 1973-1978.
    “MIL GRACIAS” to those who have been involved and have provided LEADERSHIP such as Dr. Albar Peňa…(RIP).
    Miguel A. Salinas
    “Windows of Migrant Life” Our family’s website as of Oct. 12, 2012
    I AM ASKING ASSISTANCE from those who were involved in the National Advisory Committee or can help me verify my claim and/or can provide other leads that can help me. Thank You!

  2. January 14, 2017 4:21 am

    .14.2017 The first stage of Bilingual Education in the United States under Title VII ESEA 1968 was a challenge. Dr. Peña had the knowledge, people skills and natural talent to engage people. He helped put Oregon on the MAP by supporting the efforts of PROJECT SER that was initiated in the Woodburn Schools in Woodburn Oregon.

    It has been a half century since the dialogue in Washington D.C. resulted in financial support to create educational programs for students whose language was not English. I was privileged to have started my career as an intern. Due to our hard work, the politics of the time, the insensitivity of people whose main goal was to distract a new medium of instruction…PRESENT school boards, administrators, teachers and anyone who is associated with Bilingual Education need to look back at the initial struggles during the first decade of program implementation. Keep in mind that Bilingual Education was born just five years after the Civil Right Act of 1964, you can imagine the DYNAMICS!

    Please visit for more information. This is my own effort to help remember and celebrate a special PAST….”Windows of Migrant Life”-open the one listed as Education. Special thanks to my mentor and supervisor Jan Goddard the first Bilingual Education Director and Co-Director Frank Loera in the State of Oregon.

    Miguel A. Salinas
    Project SER Director 1972-1978
    NOTE: Numbers can tell a better story—Woodburn Schools 1970 10% of the students in grades 1-6 were Spanish/Russian Speaking; today, 70+% are Spanish speaking and the balance are Russian, Anglo and other cultures and languages. My wife Lidia was the first Mexican student to graduate in 1966; a unique demographic shift.


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