Elite private schools from Mexico open in the U.S. to meet demand from parents

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EL PASO -- Families fleeing violence Mexico for a safe haven in the U.S. can now send their children to the same private prep school they attended back home. Tec de Monterrey just opened a branch in El Paso at the request of alumni and parents.

 “Their older children were enrolled in TEC de Monterrey in Juarez and now they want their younger kids to have the same opportunity,” said Irma Duron, Director of Student Affairs for the new El Paso branch

Duron welcomed a group of about 30 students to the new campus with a big smile. She handed each student a navy blue t-shirt emblazoned with “born to be the best.”

“I used to go to TEC in Juarez up to middle school,” said Jose Contreras. “Because of all the problems we had to come over here,” explained the 15 year old sophomore.

El Paso has become a safe haven for families fleeing drug violent in Juarez, Mexico’s murder capital. There were more than 3,100 killings in Juarez last year. In 2010, El Paso had five murders.  Extortion and kidnapping have also spiked.

Many of the wealthy business owners from Juarez who moved their families across the border are alumni of the Tec de Monterrey and want to ensure their children get the same education, “because of the education, it’s better,” said Paola Olivarez. The 15-year-old sophomore was born in El Paso, but her mother attended the Tec de Monterrey in Juarez as a girl.   

The student orientation included exercises to build leadership and teamwork skills, all part of the school’s mission. Some of Mexico’s top leaders attended both the Tec de Monterrey prep schools and the Tec de Monterrey University, nicknamed Mexico’s M.I.T.

The students graduate fluent in English and Spanish, speaking, writing and reading both languages. And they are required to learn a third language. The El Paso branch is offering Mandarin Chinese.

The Tech de Monterrey might be the first elite Mexican school to open a campus in the U.S. but others are quickly following. Workers are putting the final touches on a brand new elementary school in El Paso. The Ibero Academy will start classes at the end of August when the new school year begins in Texas.

The school will enroll toddlers through second grade and each subsequent year add a grade through junior high.

TEC de Monterrey also has plans to expand to meet demand, said Duron, student affairs director for the El Paso school.  

“Families from Mexico asked us to open and offer educational opportunity on this side of the  border," he said.