I learned it from Mami (and Papi)
I grew up attending marches and protests, making posters and chanting for human rights, against discrimination, violence, and oppression. From my early teens until the age of about 20, I didn't touch a grape because of the 1980s grape boycott to support farm workers. Our protest themes varied from this to demanding the end of apartheid in South Africa and the U.S. government involvement in Central America. I corresponded with Lolita Lebron, a Puerto Rican political prisoner, and then met her when she visited my school along with other released political prisoners. My father was a feminist and pro-LGBTQ rights before it became more widely accepted and in his quiet way. When I began college, the Latina organization I felt most kinship with and joined quickly was Mezcla, a group of U.S. Latinas who worked on different political issues - such as the grape boycott.
After college, my political activism waned somewhat as I navigated my twenties. In the early nineties the extent of my political action was walking in the AIDS walk in New York, in honor and memory of my uncle Mariano. Figuring out life took over, and then I got married and had 3 babies in 4 years. We moved back to Massachusetts, I began a Master's program, and teaching and raising kids filled every possible second. My activist upbringing was always there, though it was dormant for a while.
When the pandemic began, and George Floyd was murdered, I attended a protest in town with my daughters. It brought back memories of all those marches I had participated in and I felt I had come home. After years of teaching public school, I began to become more aware of what was happening in my local teachers' union; I had always been a supportive member but not very involved. Then, recently, things came to a head in my district. In 2022 I began to become aware of our leaders turning a blind eye to corruption and other serious issues in our school district. In the fall, I began contemplating and researching what could be done. A retired friend published a letter about corrupt hiring practices and nepotism in the district, and that motivated me to find out more. In the winter of 2023, I got together with a few colleagues to discuss and plan. Slowly but surely, others in our union came on board, willing to help and spread the word, in order to preserve the safety of our students and the well being of our staff. Working together in this effort has brought back some hope and joy.
Celebrating Mother's Day today seems appropriate because I feel like I birthed another baby with the letter of no confidence pasted below (publicly released yesterday) - the product of many conversations with colleagues, research, and careful planning by a small group (at first).
The activist spirit in me never died, it was just hibernating and waiting for an issue that I could not sit back and do nothing about: standing up for my school, my students, and my colleagues.
Dear Members of the ----- Regional School Committee,
We are writing as concerned staff members to express our lack of confidence in our district leadership. In this letter, we outline some of the issues we have observed in the actions of -----, Superintendent, and -----, Assistant Superintendent for Diversity, Equity and Human Resources.
We understand that the School Committee has a responsibility to ensure the well being of all staff members and students, and we trust that you will take appropriate action to address these issues.
We express our loss of confidence in district leadership for these reasons:
-Failure to properly supervise the district offices and people in his employ, especially the supervision of the assistant superintendent
-Failure to promptly deal with complaints of anti-LGBTQIA+ behavior on the part of some staff, which has created an unsafe environment for children, especially those whose identities are marginalized.
-Failure to collaborate with staff in planning how to support positive leadership in our schools.
-Unethical hiring practices.
-Use of position of professional power to enrich self on school time.
Acting in ways that undermine the district’s stated mission of equity and excellence.
-Unsafe environment, where people do not come forward out of fear.
-Toxic work environment that stifles open communication and collaboration.
-Have led to a decline in employee engagement and motivation.
-Have a negative effect on our district's ability to promote and maintain an environment that supports our mission of equity and excellence.
-Create toxic work conditions where staff well-being is declining.
We call for the immediate resignation of the assistant superintendent. In addition, we call for an investigation into the leadership of the superintendent. To aid in this investigation, you should know that all of these assertions are verifiable; each one has someone willing to come forward and attest to their veracity if requested by the committee or investigators.
We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter and look forward to working with you to create a more equitable and inclusive environment for all at ----- Regional Public Schools.
Due to the culture of fear and retribution, an anonymous vote on this letter was held.
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