Although our district has come a long way in the fight for true justice on all fronts, there are still systemic inequities that plague our students. It is our responsibility to protect our most vulnerable and provide support systems to help dismantle these systems of inequality. As your next School Board member, Luisa will work to protect our low-income, undocumented, LGBTQ, homeless, and marginalized students and families from forces that seek to further disenfranchise them.
Luisa spent her years within the Miami-Dade County Public Schools system as an undocumented student, having moved from Colombia. As a student in a new elementary school, she experienced the difficulties of language barriers and loneliness that can be associated with being an undocumented student in our school system. However, she also saw the immense opportunities that our schools can provide to students like her, allowing her to learn English through an English for Speakers of Other Languages program and entered the gifted program. It is the duality of experience, both opportunity and yet feeling alone, that we must address for the protection of our students. Our schools must be fully inclusive of undocumented students, providing them every resources necessary to allow them to succeed and thrive in the future and present. Schools should serve as sanctuaries for our undocumented students, where any fear of their immigration status impeding their education is allayed. We must continue the district policy of not allowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement to take action against students on school grounds, protecting families from being separated. The experience of our undocumented students is a defining part of the quality of our school system. It is in how we treat our most vulnerable, and the education we provide them with, that we can truly see the possibilities of our schools. Education serves as the great equalizer, presenting the door of opportunity to our students. It is imperative that we protect our undocumented family within our school system. In understanding the struggles of undocumented students by experiencing them first hand, Luisa is dedicated to ensuring the protection and advancement of our undocumented family.
In our community, and in our nation, education should serve as the great equalizer. Our schools should allow our children, regardless of their socioeconomic status, to achieve the greatness within them and reach their potential. However, if our schools are to reach this point, then our school system must be designed within the context of the restrictions of our society. The effects of racism, discrimination, and systemic poverty are the reality of our nation, and our schools are inherently connected to these issues. In our current education system, there is a difference in the performance of low-income students and their higher-income peers. Many leaders refer to this as an “achievement gap,” but that term neglects how this difference has appeared. It is more appropriate to view this not as a gap but as an “educational debt,” one that has accumulated throughout history. Years of students and people from disadvantaged communities being neglected, discriminated against, and having access to fewer resources led to this difference in performance. It is now the responsibility of our school system to pay back this “debt,” beginning by providing improved support to low-income students. Through improving college accessibility information and equalizing resource access, we can move towards true equity in our county. Our vision for our school system is one of inclusivity and equity, and that begins with ensuring that our most vulnerable are given the resources needed to reach their full potential.