Parent leader, Cecilia Uribe, joined the second edition of Innovate’s Poder de Padres podcast to talk about how a group of Latina leaders with Innovate and Sacred Heart organized a virtual community action to advocate for better distance education in San José Unified School District during a pandemic.
Listen to podcast in Spanish below or scroll down for English transcription.
Joel: Welcome to Parent Power, a podcast created by Innovate Public Schools to elevate parents’ perspective on public education and highlight educational inequalities. Today I am joined by Cecilia Uribe, parent leader with Sacred Heart Community Service, who is going to share her experience organizing and advocating for better public education during the pandemic. Cecilia, thank you very much for joining Poder de Padres.
Cecilia: Hello, good morning. As you mentioned, I am a parent of the district program. I am also a participant in the Sacred Heart of the Community Center, hence I am a member of them in terms of education. My children have participated in the homework center program, of which they invited me to participate with you, with Innovate. It was for the reason that I got to know the entire organization.
Joel: Thank you for joining. On Monday, August 3, before the new school year began, you and more than 200 people amidst all the uncertainty that exists in the world today, decided to meet in a virtual community action created by parent leaders with Innovate and Sacred Heart: Let’s come together for the kids, San José! What motivated you to be part of this action?
Cecilia: It motivated me because it is the future of our children, it was very important, it was a long and hard work to be able to organize ourselves and know well what we had to ask, what to say. It was very nice. It was a good experience, but it was mainly for the well-being of our children. As you know and all parents know that in the spring, in March, it was something that nobody expected and moreover it was very difficult, for us parents, how to know how to direct our children at home because there was no organization, perhaps because of time and the learning they had was very little. Seeing that when the pandemic started, education was very poor, learning for children and very difficult for us. I think that was what motivated us to do all this so that starting the school year with the children was something different and something productive, especially improving the entire education, the system. That was mainly the reason for the reunion of all the mothers, our concern for their future, education mainly.
Joel: To be exact, the community action had two public figures in Carla Collins and José Magaña, both San José Unified officials.
Cecilia: It was a great experience for everyone, I don’t think it was just for me, but it was for everyone, because we managed to meet, as you well said, with two very important people. We got them to listen to us, we got most of everything we asked for, we got it. For example, I see in my children right now with their classes, that yes, it was worth the effort to continue working together with all the fathers and mothers of the family. It was a very good, very beautiful experience. As I am telling you, I invite you to participate with us, to support us, to be more and so wherever we go, wherever we speak, we will be heard, because the more we are, the more voices there will be.
Joel: As Cecilia comments, the parent leaders during this community action asked the officials for commitments in six areas. The first was consistent and easy to understand better communication within the district for parents about the distance learning plan. These officials also engaged in communication hotlines from parents to district personnel to report and resolve problems with technology. We know that during the spring, when all the uncertainty took control of the situation, there was no such communication, if I am not mistaken, between parents, the district and teachers. Those officials pledged to advocate for a more direct line of communication. Parent leaders also asked for clear communication from the district on consistent expectations for the implementation of distance learning in all schools in the district and several more. There were five commitments the parent leaders asked for and if I’m not mistaken Cecilia, almost all the commitments were approved by the officials.
Cecilia: Yes. It was, it was a great success that they supported us in everything we asked for, because it was essential for our children, teachers and parents. That was going to be a support group between father, son and teacher, it is an essential group of which there must be good and excellent communication to be able to move forward, in which, in the spring, it could not be done. In my experience right now with my son’s teacher, the youngest, she has been very vigilant and I thank her. If there is a failure, then she sends us an email saying that if they cannot enter, for example, in physical education, she then sends us a Zoom or a password so that in case we have a problem, we can enter easier. She has been very aware. It is a group of which there must be 100% support between parent, child and teacher, they are essential.
Joel: If you can say something to parents within the San José District who may have doubts or complaints. That they may want to advocate for their children, but don’t know what, or are scared. What can you recommend to these people?
Cecilia: Mainly that never be afraid to ask questions or seek help, because many times as Latino parents, not all of us know how to speak English, I think that is what stops many of the fear of language, that they do not know how to communicate or where, but we can mainly help them where they need to go. Also the schools, whatever school they go to. If there is no one to help them in Spanish, they can speak to an interpreter for them to help them. Do not be afraid to ask for help because it does not mean that the office where they go does not speak English. They have the fund for interpreters, so that they help people when they need to ask, a complaint, a suggestion, all schools have it. Do not be afraid, I invite you because this is very important for our children in their future, education is number one.
Joel: Thank you very much Cecilia again for sharing your experience with me and with our listeners. Thank you very much again for tuning in to everyone.
Cecilia: Thank you. Goodbye.
Joel: Parents and listeners, what questions do you have that you want us to answer in the next podcast? Let us know at 650-562-6200, extension 171, or email us at email@example.com, or send us a message on Facebook at Innovate Public Schools. Thank you very much.