This past Saturday over 2,000 families in marched in Pacoima, California in support of local charter schools. The event, “Rally in the Valley,” was put on by the California Association of Charter School Association to highlight the academic achievements in the neighborhood that produced two of the first charter schools in the country. Pacoima is 85.6% Latino. 66.2% of adults in the city over the age of 24 do not have a high school diploma. A generation ago Pacoima had a thriving manufacturing sector, but today the promise of quality education will help uplift the community and create more opportunities.
One of the rally attendees and speakers, Gabriela Reynoso, a teacher at PUC Community Charter Middle School and an alumna of that school spoke to La Comadre about her participation in Saturday’s event.
“It’s been over 20 years of success that we have had in our community, and parents showed up at the rally to show their support of quality education and to make sure that quality instruction is being met by quality facilities,” Reynoso said. “The parents that were there either currently have students in the charter schools or had students who went through the charter schools in the area.”
Reynoso explained that she attended PUC Community Charter Middle School because her mom found out about it through a friend and appreciated how the school was involving parents and was focusing on smaller classrooms. This knowledge prompted her mom to sign her up, and because the experience was positive, Reynoso continued her high school education at another charter school.
Saturday’s rally made an appeal to elected representatives in local and state government to support pro-charter policies, better facilities for charter students, and an end to the politics and rhetoric challenging parents’ right to choose the best public school for their children. Speakers at Rally in the Valley included included Tony Cardenas, Representative for California’s 29th Congressional District, Monica Ratliff, LAUSD Board of Education, and some charter school parents, teachers, and graduates.
In the Los Angeles community, there has been tension between charter school supporters and traditional school supporters in recent years. Earlier this month United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), the second largest teacher’s union in the country, launched a billboard campaign with positive messages from parents, students, and teachers about the traditional schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Jessica Aguirre, a parent at Youth Policy Institute Charter Schools, who was in attendance on Saturday, said, “As parents, we want what is best for our kids, and for many of us that means we want charter schools. We demand more high quality public schools of all types to choose from, not just here in the San Fernando Valley, but across Los Angeles.”
She has worked in the non-profit sector, in the K-12 system, and in higher education in various capacities. When she's not writing stories or working on media projects, Adriana trains instructors to teach online at the University of California, Irvine.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Irvine and a master’s degree in public policy from Claremont Graduate University.
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