Projects and campaigns that we have had an honor
to be a part of thanks to the collaboration of youth, Mentors, and community partners/organizations.
Narrative Shift Campaign
Led by Generation Justice in Albuquerque, the Narrative Shift Campaign highlights youth resilience and leadership in New Mexico. It also raises awareness about the importance of investing in young people throughout the state. Stay tuned for more information about this campaign.
Equity Pledge Journey
Step 1: Read A New, New Mexico Letter Below
A New, New Mexico Begins with Equity in Education
July 9, 2020
To All the People of New Mexico,
The COVID-19 pandemic and uprising brought about by the murder of George Floyd and other BIPOC have drawn our attention once again to historical and ongoing educational inequities in our state. Despite the recent tragedies our communities have experienced, we are entering a new time of possibility. With the Yazzie/Martinez remedies far from being achieved, this situation has only confirmed what we already knew - that economic, criminal justice, and educational systems in the United States, and here in New Mexico, are built to create and deepen gaps based on race/ethnicity and income. The negative impact is most devastating for the very individuals and communities denied resources and opportunities for generations. In short, we are called to action with yet another opportunity to establish equity in our public education system.
As educators, researchers, and youth leaders in southern NM, we are recommending a five-prong approach to make equity a priority. We strongly believe equity work should be integrated into the fabric of our education system - staffing, curriculum, the level and distribution of resources, etc. Accomplishing this requires more time, reflection, funding, and skills than we have been willing to commit and this is the hard reality facing us now. While continuing to advocate for sufficient funding, we should also acknowledge and invest in our state’s existing, homegrown talent and expertise.
A HOME GROWN APPROACH TO ACHIEVE EQUITY
1) The curriculum in NM must prepare students to be active participants in our representative democracy. Civics courses alone are not enough. Quality public schools can help us create a shared vision of a fair society that works for everyone. To accomplish this, students must be engaged in honest discussions and analyses of the history of the U.S., role of traditional and social media, and distribution of power and resources. They must also be engaged in identifying solutions to our most pressing social, environmental, and economic challenges. Dr. Cornel West refers to this deeper purpose as paideia, a Greek concept whereby education is focused on producing a whole, enlightened member of society.
2) District level Equity Councils must be designed and supported to serve as vehicles for deeper and sustained equity work. The first step is to increase capacity among our current educators. This will require a major shift in awareness for many and it will necessitate the acquisition of new and crucial skills. The reality currently is that most people who experience various forms of privilege are often not aware of this privilege. Once normalized, privilege often leads to unconscious or implicit biases resulting in practices and policies that merely perpetuate privilege. While disrupting these trends is difficult and uncomfortable work, one promising strategy is to use a developmental approach that acknowledges growth along a continuum.
3) Teacher preparation in NM must better prepare new teachers to integrate an equity lens in everything they do. As part of this, greater emphasis should be placed on teachers as problem solvers when it comes to engagement and learning for every student they teach. These are major components in teacher preparation programs in the most successful education systems in the world. Likewise, the education systems themselves are designed to enable a laser like focus on teaching and learning and this of course makes a huge difference. In NM most teacher education programs require just one multicultural education course and whether an equity lens is integrated in any other required course is largely dependent on each instructor.
4) New Mexico needs a long-range equity based comprehensive plan for public education. Such a plan would include a broad framework for districts and schools that encourages and facilitates innovation at the local level. The plan would increase the ability of schools to serve as community hubs that help assess and eliminate underlying gaps, which is aligned with locally driven Community Schools. The plan would also recognize the gifts and strengths all children bring to the formal learning environment, placing students and their families at the center. This type of a roadmap will also cultivate shared accountability and collective responsibility statewide for the success of ALL students.
5) Last but not least, major structural and philosophical shifts are necessary to truly develop a student-centered learning and decision-making system. Effective student centered approaches exist in pockets throughout NM but they have been marginalized and obstructed for decades. We must place these culturally and linguistically responsive models at the center in redesigning our education system as recommended by the Transform Education NM Coalition. We should also take this opportunity to reconsider other aspects of the design of the system that get in the way of learning.
It is time to strategically build capacity at every level of the education system while harnessing the strengths of our students and their families, educators, researchers, and youth leaders to move this necessary work forward. Schools will reopen and when they do, we must welcome students back to a more equitable, safe, and dynamic learning environment that makes true the promise of public education the people of NM deserve.
Business leaders, elected officials, and community members alike have an important role to play by learning more about and engaging in this crucial work. After all, while it is widely accepted in the U.S. that educational outcomes are positively correlated with health and economic outcomes, we’ve tragically ignored that we all do better when we all do better. We have a chance in NM to make it right, and it is going to take a groundswell of advocacy to finally enact equity in public education - the first step is to demand that equity is no longer optional. To add your name in support of this letter and/or register for our series of Virtual Community Forums on Equity, please go to www.LABLC.org.
In Unity & Strength,
Dulcinea Lara, Director of Borderlands & Ethnic Studies, NMSU
Andrew Montoya, Organizer, NEA-Human & Civil Rights Department
Michelle Valverde, Education Policy Analyst & LAB Manager/Facilitator
LAB Learning Action Buffet
Borderlands & Ethnic Studies Program (BEST-NMSU)
National Education Association-Las Cruces
La Semilla Food CenterDual Language Education of New Mexico
National Education Association of New Mexico
Center for the Education and Study of Diverse Populations
Dual Language Education of New Mexico
Empowerment Congress of Doña Ana County
ENgaging LAtino/a Communities for Education North-West
Indigenous Women Rising
Ben Lujan Leadership & Public Policy Institute
Raices Del Saber Xinachtl Community School
DZIŁ DITŁ'OOÍ School of Empowerment Action and Perseverance
Southwest Organizing Project
A:shiwi College and Career Readiness Center
Children's Choice New Mexico
Cynthia F. Pelak
Judith Flores Carmona
Micaela de la Rosa
Margaret Brown Vega
Anna Nelson, LCSW
Dr. Karen Sanchez-Griego Ed.D
R. Joyce Garay
Lucia Veronica Carmona
Maria A. Flores