Every year, a group of 80 students congregates to discuss difficult topics affecting the Latinx community in the U.S. However, instead of discussing how our communities can become empowered in the future, we were forced to reckon with the reality that the struggles of our past still plague our present.
Unlike the typical student, however, our childhood years were spent dealing with economic struggles, feelings of not belonging, teenage pregnancy, and run-ins with the police. My four siblings and I had to overcome these hardships to graduate. For each of us, our high school graduation day was a moment of triumph for our family, because the odds were against us from the very beginning.
At a time when stark achievement gaps remain unresolved, when increased funding in education is more badly needed than ever, and when too many schools are seeking to exempt English language learners from their accountability systems, H.R. 5 threatens to exacerbate the educational inequities that have long held back Latino students in our schools.
For the first time in 13 years, the DOE now makes clear that states, school districts, and schools must make education resources equally available to all students without regard to race, color, or national origin. This is some of the unfinished business of the civil rights movement and a giant step forward for poor children, often children of color.
While many graduates view the end of their studies as the formal transition point from one stage of life to another, the Latino community as a whole would be better served if graduation was looked upon as but one step along an individual's path of lifelong learning, professional development and achievement.