We all dream of our dreams coming true, but for many Latino families, their children’s dreams are on hold due to barriers to education. Choosing the best educational option for our children is a top priority for many Latino families. However, when one of the options is a school that is not well-suited for the needs of the Latino community, it can be difficult to find the funding to make it happen.
Today, it’s a lot more common for parents to be able to choose their children’s schools, and this is especially true for Latinas. But why has education become so important to our community? Why do we care so much about being heard? El miedo. The fear. Fear that having a voice means that someone will listen. Fear that having a voice means that someone will not bother to hear us. Fear that having a voice could mean that we are wrong. Fear that having a voice could mean that we aren’t good enough.
In the past, Latinas have not been given the attention they deserve in the political arena. The lack of representation and the lack of understanding of the importance of this demographic is alarming. The statistics are alarming as well. In a report by the Center for American Progress, 20 million Latinos live in poverty compared with 8.3 million African-Americans. Latinos are less likely to have health insurance than people of other races, 21% versus 6%. Latinos are also less likely to have access to quality, affordable health care. In the last decade, Latinos have experienced a record number of preventable deaths, with more than 1,000 deaths each day.. Read more about education post magazine and let us know what you think.
Throughout my 20-year career in Houston, I have advocated for Latino parents and caregivers to be treated equally in their local school systems and to be involved in educational decision-making. The sad truth is that Latino parents and guardians are often ignored, undervalued, and dismissed as uninvolved, despite the fact that we know they are essential to promoting Latino educational goals. Our board meetings are a harsh reminder of the absence of Latino education decision-makers and the direct effect this has on kids, despite the fact that over 60% of students in Houston ISD are Latino.
Almost everyone I’ve talked to in my numerous discussions with Latino caregivers has felt as if their voices aren’t being heard and that they aren’t being supported as they attempt to negotiate the intricacies of Houston ISD. These families get little to no assistance in locating the best school for their children, enrolling them in dual language programs, or advocating for them on campus and at the school board level. This flagrant disrespect for Latino families prompted me and Latinos for Education to provide real assistance to these parents.
That is why we recently launched Familias Latinas Por La Educación (Latino Family Education Fellowship), a parent advocacy program aimed at increasing Latino parents’ understanding of school quality, challenges affecting their children’s education, solutions to these challenges, and opportunities to engage with those in power in Houston ISD. When we first started in June, we held a place for the 20 parents and family members to discuss their goals and aspirations for their children, with the goal of instilling a vision of themselves as leaders. We will offer parents with anything from a high-level overview of the Houston ISD school system to a deep dive into the status of Latino education throughout the program sessions. This background information is critical in giving families with the foundation they need to present a parent-led agenda for enhancing educational quality to decision-makers at the conclusion of the program.
Parents enrolled in the program may also view report cards that we’ve developed to look at the quality of each school in their district, including kindergarten readiness, dual language programs, reading and math levels, and the proportion of Latino instructors in classrooms. My aim is to not only provide parents with a foundational knowledge, but also to identify the obstacles to their children’s education and create suggestions and ways to solve these problems.
Participants will get the chance to convey their parent-led agenda to those who are developing and implementing policies that directly affect their children after spending time practicing public speaking and gaining confidence. They’ll offer suggestions at the conclusion of the program that best serve the varied demographic of Latino kids, and they’ll remind Houston ISD school board officials that Latino parents are active, educated, and ready to help their children.
This effort is important in our community, and my goal is that this group of 20 parents will usher in a new age in Houston public education. Our first cohort is completely Latina-led and as varied as our community, with moms and grandparents from Mexico, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Honduras, Bolivia, Colombia, and El Salvador among its members. The following people are taking part:
- Flores Widalis
- Escobar, Martha
- Monica Reyes is a model and actress.
- Fadic, Noelia
- Rodriguez, Mariel
- Trevio Alba
- Martinez, Maritza
- Villalobos, Laura
- Ramirez, Perla
- Mayra Gonzalez, Mairalina “Mayra” Gonzalez, Mairalina “Mayra” Gonzalez,
- Flor Lopez is a character in the film Flor Lopez
- Zuiga, Maria Guadalupe
- Medina, glory to you!
- Mitzi Ordonez is a model and actress.
- Villar, Daniela
- Angelica Hernandez is a model and actress.
- Medina, Yaniari
After the program, these families will continue to collaborate and share what they’ve learned with others in their families, friend groups, and the broader community, ensuring that the Latino parent-led movement continues to expand.
As a native Houstonian, I place a high value on helping my neighbors and community. This initiative is not only fostering community among Houston ISD parents, but it is also assisting them in better comprehending the school system’s intricacies. As summer draws to a close, parents will be much better informed about their children’s education and ready to apply their newly acquired abilities to the next school year. I’m looking forward to seeing how individuals will realize their full potential while also igniting and inspiring their children.
This article was first published on Latinos for Education.
Canva-licensed photo by LightFieldStudios.
Las Familias Latinas Por La Educación (“LFLE”) is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 2006 by a man named Manuel Montes. LFLE has been working in the education sector since 2003, but Montes was frustrated by the lack of Latino representation in the organization that was providing scholarships to Latino students. So, he and a few colleagues along with a few volunteers came up with a plan: to create a new organization that would help more Latinos succeed in school.. Read more about blog for education and let us know what you think.
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