Congressman Ruben Hinojosa has selected McAllen ISD’s Lamar Academy, the home for the district’s prestigious International Baccalaureate Programme, to serve on an exclusive national education forum.

Lamar Principal Cindy Pena will join the forum, hosted by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, April 30 in Houston.

The IB Programme offers a globally respected curriculum to McAllen ISD students from its three regular high schools — McAllen High, McAllen Memorial and James “Nikki” Rowe. Students who graduate with an IB Diploma are assured of at least 24 college credit hours in any Texas state university. McAllen ISD became the first Valley institution to offer the IB Diploma Programme in 2001. Its IB Diploma candidates have earned their IB Diplomas (which are graded in Switzerland) with a success rate of 99.4 percent — placing them among the highest in the world.

One of the primary topics of the forum will include the reauthorization of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) which would ask states to adopt college- and career-ready standards and reward schools for producing dramatic gains in student achievement. The other people on the panel will be school superintendents and possibly two other Members of Congress.

The McAllen ISD Superintendent, Dr. James Ponce, has spearheaded efforts in McAllen schools to produce graduates who are college and career ready.

The forum will meet at the Harris County Department of Education in Houston.

Congressman Hinojosa represents District 15 of Texas which encompasses all or part of 11 counties in the Rio Grande Valley and Coastal Bend areas.

Arne Duncan was nominated for the U.S. Secretary of Education post by President Barack Obama.

Duncan served as the chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools from 2001-08, becoming the longest-serving big-city education superintendent in the country.