The concept of a coalition of Hispanic groups getting together to work on education issues is ideal. Some positive outcomes have resulted from the Latino Education Coalition (LEC).
However, as a former participant, I feel that an overall evaluation is in order.
The Hispanic student walkout sponsored by the LEC last September was controversial among Hispanics, and yet the walkout and rally took place.
The main purpose of the walkout was to emphasize the inadequate and inequitable educational services provided by the Denver Public Schools (DPS).
As a teacher activist on education issues, I originally supported the rally. Unfortunately, other issues and agendas overshadowed the event.
Halfway through the speeches at the state capital the focus became the anniversary of the Crusade for “Just-Us” and the birth of the Chicano Movement II. The speeches by Nita Gonzales and company began criticizing Europeans, Christopher Columbus, Spanish culture and values, and the Catholic Church.
This Chicano/MECHA political agenda and revisionist history was not sanctioned by the groups in the LEC nor does it represent the views of the Hispanic community.
This type of propaganda by the “Chicano faction” only provides the media and viewing public with a negative, stereotypical view of Hispanics.
The original purpose of the walkout was to focus attention on the poor educational services provided by the DPS. It appears that some LEC leaders may have had some agendas to promote also.
Exclusive meetings were held with Governor Romer and DPS Superintendent Irv Moskowitz, resulted in a media event where the superintendent agreed to LEC’s seven goals.
Had the LEC consulted with its teachers, it would have discovered that the goals are nearly identical to those of Education 2000 and the DPS strategic plan goals, making it easy for Superintendent Moskowitz to sign off on them.
Goal No. 7 of the LEC, which deals with bilingual education, is in need of major revision and direction, and that is where the LEC should be focusing its attention.
Another meeting with the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) and the LEC excluded several of its most knowledgeable and experienced teachers.
Attempting to communicate or have calls returned from the LEC leadership is also a mystery.
Additional concerns are raised: How are the LEC leaders appointed? And how are their decisions reached?
The recent incident at Horace Mann Middle School (suspension of Vice Principal Ruben Perez) also exposed many LEC political and philosophical deficiencies. The LEC called the whole incident a racist conspiracy and demanded the immediate dismissal of Perez.
As usual, the incident was mishandled by the DPS administration. But it also was blown out of proportion and misinterpreted by the LEC leaders.
Perez’s attempt to suspend nearly 100 students was merely an effort to gain the attention of parents and require them to meet with Horace Mann teacher teams.
There would have been about 50 students reinstated with only a half-day suspension, 25 with a one-day suspension, 10 with a two-day suspension and so on. The LEC overreacted, however, as if Perez had expelled the students.
The issue that attracted the passions of people nationwide was simply the “rights of good students” to a safe and productive learning environment without the continued distractions of disruptive students.
That was the issue. Nothing else.
The disappointing reaction of the LEC and Chicano writers was to support the chronically disruptive and disrespectful students. They portrayed the disruptive students as “victims” of racism and insensitive Anglo teachers. These “victim pimps” mislead and encourage our young people to blame everyone else for their problems instead of taking responsibility for their own action.
As a teacher, I cannot support the LEC and the “victim culture” activists who blame others and think that someone else owes them a living.
Traditionally, Hispanic culture and values teach respect for others, reverence for teachers, and self-responsibility.
It is time for the organizations and individuals involved in the LEC to evaluate its leadership and direction before there is another Latino Education Collision.
Joseph C’de Baca is a teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School