A Kineño’s Journey:
On Family, Learning, and Public Service
(Grover E. Murray Studies in the American Southwest)
by Lauro F. Cavazos & Gene P. Preuss
Genre: Memoir / Education
Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
TTU Press: on
Date of Publication: June 30, 2016
# of pages: 352
On September 20, 1988, the United States Senate unanimously confirmed Lauro F. Cavazos as the fourth Secretary of Education in President Ronald Reagan’s administration. A sixth-generation Texan and Kineño—a descendant of Mexican citizens who accepted work on Texas’s King Ranch in the 19th century—Cavazos was the first Hispanic appointed to a position in an American Presidential Cabinet.
The story of Cavazos’s journey leading up to his cabinet appointment is a portrait of a life devoted to the principles of education. In 1954, Cavazos married Peggy Ann Murdock; the couple had ten children, all of whom were educated in public schools. To enhance their children’s education, the Cavazoses traveled extensively, living out the principle that a holistic education includes exposure to others’ worldviews. During his service as Secretary of Education, Cavazos insisted that all children in America be educated to their fullest potential. A key tenet of Cavazos’s service was an emphasis on educating minority students—a passion Cavazos formed early on in his career, first as a faculty member at the Medical College of Virginia, then as a professor and Dean at the Tufts University School of Medicine, and later as President of Texas Tech University.
From the book: My father told me when I was a young boy that he had three expectations of me. Dad said that I was expected to educate myself, serve my country, and never disgrace the Cavazos name. These three simple admonitions formed the bedrock of my future life, the foundation upon which my father told me to stand firm.
PURCHASE FROM TEXAS TECH PRESS:
Lauro F. Cavazos is a name not readily recognized by many. He’s one of those men who made quiet inroads through raising his family, his research and later becoming Secretary of Education under two U.S. Presidents.
“A Kineno’s Journey” gives readers insight to this unknown man and his beliefs. The book first reflects on his time as Secretary of Education under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. The book relates how his appointment came about to his daily life as Secretary of Education. While it extensively details his time as Secretary of Education, it does lack what he truly accomplished during his service.
His wife, Peggy even contributed to the history of him being Secretary of Education by writing notes in the margins of all his briefing books. It seems the only person he met during his service that made him star struck was meeting Kathryn Hepburn. I have to say I would’ve been star stuck meeting her too.
His education beliefs are evident throughout the book from parents needing to be involved in their children’s education to teaching that all kids need to learn English. Readers will come away with a sense of how strongly he believed in education, not only from books and school, but travel too. He stated many lessons are to be learned in life, but the best lessons comes not from book learning and schooling, but interacting with people from the people around you to traveling to another countries. I wholeheartedly agree with him on this.
The book recognizes people who molded and helped him during his life. It’s evident that a great love exists between him and his wife, Peggy. Their marriage is a true testament for all marriages.
One interesting note I did not know – without Cavazo’s the archeological dig site of the Lubbock Lake Landmark in Lubbock, Texas would not be the site it is today without him. He sought funding from the legislature to preserve and protect the site.
While his diary-like retelling of his retrospections may put off some readers, it does offer a glimpse into a man who is clearly humble. His strongest beliefs towards education, commitment to service and his family are the underlying themes through his recollections.
Gene Preuss provides a synopsis of the challenges Cavazo faced in dealing with education, not only in Texas, but nationwide. It’s sad when politicians’ think they know better about legislation they are passing for the “good of a people” instead of listening to people who have been involved at ground level – like Cavazo’s was with education.
If you know Cavazo’s then this book will give you more insight into him as a person. If you’d like to know who he was then this book is a must read.
Former Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos was born on the vast King Ranch in South Texas, where his father was the foreman. He received an M.A. in zoology from Texas Tech University and holds a doctoral degree in physiology from Iowa State University. He taught at the Medical College of Virginia and at the Tufts University School of Medicine, where he was Dean for five years. Cavazos returned to Texas Tech University in 1980 to become its tenth president—the first Hispanic and first graduate of the university to hold that office. He is a professor of public health and community medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine. He and his wife divide their time between Concord, Massachusetts and Port Aransas, Texas.
Gene B. Preuss is an associate professor of history and Special Assistant to the President at the University of Houston-Downtown. He is the author of To Get a Better School System: One Hundred Years of School Reform in Texas.
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