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Born in 1954. Reared and educated in Cunningham, Texas in Southeast Lamar County. Plata was an educator and was first elected to the Dallas Independent School District Board of Education in 1996. He received his B.A. in 1978 from the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas and later received his bilingual education certification from East Texas State University at Commerce.
The interview begins with a discussion regarding Mexican American leadership, ethnic tensions, the importance of education, and Plata's role as one of the first openly gay elected officials in Dallas. He reviews gay/lesbian political and social issues and talks about his involvement as a political activist in the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance as well as the political difficulties he experienced in his bid for election to the Dallas Board of Education due to the public's knowledge about his sexual orientation. After describing his family's genealogy and geographical origins, Plata talks about the importance of education for his family and that it is the number one most important issue for Mexican Americans. He describes his political involvement as a student representative to the National Education Association(NEA) and with the creation of the Department of Education during the Carter administration. Plata discusses Dallas School Board elections and internal politics as well as his campaign style, financing, and management. He talks extensively about the internal political problems between the ethnic groups that made up the Dallas School Board and the numerous corruption scandals in the late 1990's involving some members of the Board and the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Yvonne Rodriguez. He concludes by stating that Dallas School Board politics is so corrupt that educational improvement and student welfare is severely compromised.
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