Wow, what a day – Latino Advocacy Day! California Forward, NCLR, CABE, senators, council members, teachers, administrators, board members, parents, students, committed citizens and me – coming together to realize the power of one – we created one voice!
We took turns – sometimes talking, sometimes listening, sometimes learning – But we all went with one focus in mind – to say what needed to be said. It is our responsibility as citizens, and in my position in education, to speak for our constituents.
For me it was all worth it. I woke up at 4:00 a.m. to get to the airport by 5:00 a.m., and take the six o’clock plane for my first Latino Advocacy Day scheduled at 7:30 a.m.
Hello Sacramento! We took over the capital – more than 350 constituents advocating for equity and rights regarding issues on education, health, housing, or work force. We were ready.
We heard inspirational words and encouragement from NCLR President and CEO Janet Murgia. What a role model! Personally, I was most impressed with Dr. Maria Quezada, Chief Executive Director of CABE, and how she took the time to teach us and lead us.
Then, “We the people” got to exercise our constitutional right to freedom of speech.
To my representatives I firmly presented:
1. AB 124 (Fuentes) The importance of realigning the current ELD Standards to the ELA Common Core Standards,
2. AB 535 (V. Manuel Perez) this bill identifies what elements should be included in any future assessment of use of primary language.
3. AB 815 (Brownley) proposes a California Seal of Bi-literacy to honor High School graduates who learned more than one world language in addition to English and last but not least California Dream Act.
4. AB 130-131 The California Dream Act. This bill falls right in line with NCLR mission which is to promote work force development and higher education opportunities for Latino Families across the country.
The reason it is so important to engage in events like these is that our future is at stake. As an immigrant, it is a privilege to be in my new country and be able to count. My obligation as a citizen is to make things better for the next generation, for my kids and my kids’ kids.
Did we help to form a “smart” government? Yes we did. Today we revised the California Dream and helped turn our broken government into an efficient one. Today we got more involved and were heard. Today we gave voice to what needed to be said.
By 6:30 p.m. I had tired feet but a rejoiced heart. I took the plane from Sacramento to LAX, arrived home by 7:30, and tucked my four children into bed by 8:30.
At 9:30pm, I realized that a single mother’s dream was fulfilled today as her children’s dreams and future and success got closer to reality. Thank you CABE, NCLR, California Forward. You have empowered me!
What are your ideas? What did you give voice to? Share, I would love to hear your voice.
Dr. Irella Perez-Martinez is a public school principal