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Amy Lee Birtchet

PEÑA, ÁLBAR ANTONIO (1931–1993). Álbar Antonio Peña, leader in bilingual education, was born on July 14, 1931, in Ciudad Mier, Mexico, to Antonio and Ester Peña. He was the youngest of five children. Because Antonio Peña was a citizen of the United States, the Peña children enjoyed dual citizenship. The Peñas moved to Falfurrias, Texas, when the oldest sister, Anjelica, acquired a job with a doctor to help support the family after the death of their father. Álbar Peña attended high school in Falfurrias and after graduation served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War, achieving the rank of staff sergeant. In 1957 Peña earned his bachelor's degree in foreign languages at the University of Texas at Austin. That same year he married Englantina Canales in Benavides, her hometown. They had one daughter. They moved to Brownsville, where both taught in the Brownsville Independent School District. In 1958 Peña began teaching night classes at Brownsville Junior College. He received a master's degree in Spanish and educational administration from Texas A&I University in 1961. In 1967 he received his doctorate in curriculum instruction from the University of Texas at Austin, with a specialization in bilingual education and English as a second language. Peña was the first national director of the Bilingual Education Program in Washington from 1969 to 1973. He testified in congressional committee on the Bilingual Education Act and was instrumental in its passage. As director of the Bilingual Education Program, he was responsible for much of the initial funding and training of bilingual teachers. During his tenure as national director he developed, secured funding, and implemented over 200 Title VII bilingual education projects throughout the United States. In these programs, twenty-four languages were represented, and over 4,000 professional educators were directly involved in the initial funded experimentation of bilingual education projects. In 1973 Peña established and chaired the department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio. For health reasons he stepped down as chair of the department in 1978 but continued to serve as a professor of bilingual studies at UTSA. Peña conveyed to his students the need to be bilingual and bicultural by having a high proficiency in Spanish and English. He established and was a life member of the National Association of Bilingual Education, which today not only provides support for professional activities but also serves as a major advocacy group that protects the rights of language-minority children. In addition, Peña was a member of St. Sembradores de Amistad, an international organization of professionals that provide time and money for charitable causes, and the Texas Association for Bilingual Education. Peña lectured across the country and chaired international conferences on bilingual education. He received numerous awards for his work and is listed in Who's Who in American Government, Who's Who International, Who's Who among Hispanics, and Who's Who in Bilingual Education. Peña retired from UTSA on May 31, 1993. He died of cancer in San Antonio on July 27, 1993. He was buried at Sunset Memorial Park in San Antonio.

San Antonio Express-News, July 29, 1993. Frances Willard Von Maltitz, Living and Learning in Two Languages (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1975).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Amy Lee Birtchet, "PENA, ALBAR ANTONIO," accessed May 26, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpele.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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