November 24, 2014

Giving thanks for our students through advocacy

Araceli Morfin • Special Education Teacher, Bridge Coordinator at Roosevelt High School

Like many educators, when I get asked the classic Thanksgiving question, “What are you thankful for,” I often talk about my students. My students at Roosevelt High School have taught me to be curious, to stay fearless and to keep a sense of humor, among many other lessons.

This year, I’m giving thanks for an experience I had to advocate for them at our state capitol, and I want to share that experience with you.

E4E-Los Angeles Teacher Policy Team members Araceli Morfin, Kiechelle Russell, Donia Horton, and Tunji Adebayo prepare in the California Latino Legislative Caucus briefing room.

Two weeks ago, I had the honor and privilege of traveling to Sacramento with three of my colleagues from the E4E-Los Angeles 2014 Teacher Policy Team on School Climate. We had the incredible opportunity to brief both the California Legislative Black Caucus and the California Legislative Latino Caucus on the recommendations our team created on how the state can support great school climates. We walked them through what role data plays in our schools, and how requirements for teacher and administrator preparation can better incorporate some of the school climate initiatives districts like LAUSD are already implementing.

We were excited to see how responsive and engaged they were, and we are looking forward to continuing to work with all of them to make our recommendations a reality. Their enthusiasm for our ideas made clear that we have some strong allies for our students and our schools in Sacramento.

At the same time, we also learned the importance of making our voices heard right now in Sacramento.

As you know, our state has moved to the Local Control Funding Formula, and our state is still trying to understand the changing role of lawmakers in this era of local control in education. We need teachers, students and parents reminding our legislators of their opportunity to create the legislative climate and policies that will empower our schools to create stronger school climates and policies. To truly create change for our students, teachers and lawmakers have to work together by bridging the gap between those that make education laws and policies and those who enact these laws and policies in our schools. 

This Thanksgiving, I hope you’ll give thanks for your students by getting informed and getting involved. One way you can do this is to host a focus group at your school. You can celebrate your students by discussing ways to improve school climate, with the ideas from our paper as a starting point for your own. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Araceli Morfin