LATINO LEADERS ON UTLA STRIKE: AN OPEN LETTER
Los Angeles, CA — On the holiday celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, we honor his legacy by embodying his quote, “The time is always right to do what is right.”
Each of us has dedicated much of our lives to ensuring that students in Los Angeles have the educational experiences they need and deserve to give them real options and move them out of poverty. Our relentless drive to do this work stems from our personal experience as LAUSD students and our families’ experiences in LAUSD schools. We see ourselves in the aspiring students who sit in thousands of classrooms today, and we see ourselves in the educators who are committed to putting students first and seek more support for our students.
At the same time, we are very concerned about the 600,000 LAUSD students, the vast majority of them Latino, who are not receiving the benefit of regular instruction, who may not receive a regular meal or may not be receiving the care they count on from their teachers and schools. We stand with and support our teachers, students, and families.
Our students desperately need high quality instruction every single day. Nearly three out of four Latino students in LAUSD are NOT at grade level in Math. Nearly two out of three Latino students are NOT at grade level in English. The outcomes for African American and Native American children are equally disturbing. Any loss of learning time is causing them to fall further and further behind, creating an even wider equity and opportunity gap.
We want all children to have access to schools that make them happy, help them think critically, and inspire them to dream big and boldly for our nation. We want all children across every school to be taught by educators who will help them meet their full potential.
We understand that this is a contentious time, and we also understand the complexity of the issues. We teach our kids how to engage in our society to enact change, and we set the example of how we work through difficult issues through our actions. This last week has demonstrated the power of civic engagement, but we also must model the behaviors we wish students to demonstrate when we disagree.
Mindful of how disruptive this five-day strike has been to the communities served by LAUSD, we urge UTLA and the district to work together to craft a bold vision for how to holistically improve student outcomes. This means moving away from recycled agendas and talking points and toward new solutions that will support all educators, administrators, families, and students. Creating a new collaborative vision will require long-term financial planning and stability, something that will be nearly impossible to achieve if the district has to declare bankruptcy.
To achieve the resolution we need, we call on the Governor of California, the California State Legislature and elected officials to step in and solve what is at the heart of the problem: take direct action to move California from the bottom quartile in national per-student spending to adequately fund our public school system and build a system of support for kids and families that requires a more seamless and comprehensive approach to the well being and success of children.
Our children are depending on all of us to put the civil and educational rights of children first. We must find common ground, end this strike immediately, and focus on closing the equity and opportunity gaps for all our children.
Alma V. Marquez, Founder, La Comadre
Amanda Fernandez, CEO, Latinos for Education
Ana Cubas, Candidate, LAUSD Board District 5
Dr. Ana Ponce, Executive Director, Great Public Schools Now
Ana Valdez, National Latino Leader
Angelica Solis, Executive Director, LA Coalition for Excellent Public Schools
Antonio Plascencia, LAUSD Parent
Arturo Vargas, CEO, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO)
Beatriz Olvera Stotzer, CEO, NEWCapital
Carmen Avalos, City Clerk, City of South Gate & Cerritos College Board Trustee
Cosme Lozano, Chief of Police
Dr. Corinne Martinez, Associate Professor, California State University, Long Beach
Desiree Martinez, Director, Students for Education Reform- Los Angeles
Ed Avila, Founder, Alliance for a Better Community
Evelyn Aleman, Student and Parent Education Advocate
Emilio Pack, CEO, Stem Preparatory Schools
Graciela Ortiz, Councilmember, City of Huntington Park & Candidate, LAUSD Board District 5
Ivonne Correa, Huntington Park Women’s Club
Jeimee Estrada, Regional Vice President, Innovate Public Schools
Judy Davidds-Wright, Education Advocate
Karina Garcia, Vice Mayor, City of Huntington Park
Karla Salazar, CEO, SOS Strategies
Keri Rodrigues, Co-Founder, National Parent Council
Layla Avila, CEO/Executive Director, Education Leaders of Color
Lily Arguello, Huntington Park Women’s Club
Lisette Medina-Duarte, Education Advocate
Maria Casillas, Former LAUSD Teacher, Principal, Administrator/Community Leader
Mary Najera, Founder, Moms In Action for Better Education
Marilyn Sanabria, Councilmember, City of Huntington Park
Nadia Funn, Public Education Advocate
Nestor Valencia, Councilmember, City of Bell & Candidate, LAUSD Board District 5
Ofelia Hernandez, Former City Councilmember, City of Huntington Park
Oscar Cruz, President & CEO, Families in Schools
Ricardo Mireles, Executive Director, Academic Avance
Richard Corral, CEO, Corral Consulting
Salvador Diaz, Walnut Park Civic Engagement
Sara Mijares, CEO, Mundo Maya Foundation
Dr. Sarah Figueroa, Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Para Los Niños
Tammy Membreno, Executive Director, Barrio Action Youth and Family Center
Veronica Melvin, President & CEO, LA Promise Fund
Xavier Reyes, CEO, Alta Public Schools
Yolie Flores, Former LAUSD School Board Vice President & Former President, Los Angeles County Office of Education
Education Leaders of Color (EdLoC) is a membership organization of 300 leaders of color working to elevate the leadership, voices and influence of people of color in education and to leading more inclusive efforts to improve education. EdLoC aims to advance a third way that breaks through the polarizing divides that have consumed efforts to improve public education and to forge the alliances needed to realize and sustain EdLoC’s vision of providing low-income children of color expansive and substantive opportunities for the highest levels of academic and economic attainment.