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An Open Letter to the Community | Pasadena School Board Trustee Yarma Velázquez

Published on Wednesday, March 27, 2024 | 1:17 pm

As we reflect on the significance of the César Chávez Resolution 2750 and the ongoing work needed to improve educational outcomes for Latinos in our community, it’s essential to recognize the transformative power of education. César Chávez understood this power and dedicated his life to empowering individuals and communities, particularly migrant workers and their families, through education.

Chávez saw education as a fundamental tool for breaking the cycle of poverty and oppression. He advocated tirelessly for better schools and educational opportunities for the children of farmworkers, access to quality education, and resources tailored to the unique needs of migrant students.

Today, as we celebrate César Chávez Day, we must also confront the reality of our educational system. While progress has been made, our educational outcomes reveal ongoing disparities, particularly along racial lines. The racialized nature of educational outcomes in PUSD demands urgent attention. We cannot afford to ignore these inequities.

I urge all families advocating for equity to join me in demanding that our school board prioritize addressing the educational disparities experienced by both Latinos and Blacks in our district. This must be our primary focus and the driving force behind our collective action.

Furthermore, it is imperative that we establish a parent organization that supports Chicanos and Latinos of all backgrounds across Pasadena. This organization must provide inclusive support, grassroots education, and a sense of community, recognizing and embracing linguistic diversity as a strength rather than a barrier. Presently, the sole parent group advocating for Latinx families consists of the English Learner Parent Groups. However, we invest resources into training strong parent leaders who often find their advocacy opportunities diminished once their children are reclassified. This represents a significant advocacy gap that needs addressing. We must develop a community capable of sustaining and leveraging the resources and contacts established by these parents beyond the point of reclassification.

Moreover, I am eager to collaborate with like-minded individuals who understand that a resolution commemorating the life and work of César Chávez is just the beginning. We must address the root causes of educational inequities and implement substantive changes in our educational efforts.

This includes developing a comprehensive curriculum that not only recognizes but honors the cultural significance of Latinos in Pasadena. Our initiative must extend beyond symbolic gestures to tackle the systemic issues that contribute to educational disparities. We need to establish district-level programming that unites families across the district, with a specific focus on educational outcomes and opportunities.

Together, let us leverage the resources within our community to achieve better results for all students. Let us ensure that every child has access to quality education and the opportunity to reach their full potential. The legacy of César Chávez calls us to action, and together, we can build a more equitable and inclusive educational system.

If you share my belief in the urgent need for action or if others in your area resonate with the same calls to action, reach out to me to initiate a conversation. Let’s work together to make a difference.

“Preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.” César Chávez

Yarma Velázquez Vargas, PhD.
PUSD Board of Education Trustee
District 7

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